As summer comes to a close, you may be feeling like you indulged in a few too many margaritas, barbeques, and ice cream sundaes. Maybe you didn’t get out and exercise in the nice weather as much as you had planned. We live in a society of “extremes,” so it’s not surprising to me that, in the wake of the new fall season, I’m hearing talks of people “fasting” to detox and undo some of the summer over-indulgences.
Given that there was a period in my life where I did a lot of fasting (in a very unhealthy way, and for unhealthy reasons), my initial reaction to hearing that someone is on a “water fast” makes me cringe and feel concerned. I personally feel that our bodies are perfectly equipped with organs that already do the job, removing toxins through the skin (by sweating), liver, colon, and kidneys.
That said, I do that that the typical American diet includes too much processed food, saturated fats, genetically modified products, and too much sugar. So I actually do support the idea of eating clean as a method to “detox” from all the non-foods that many of us consume. But as far as eliminating food altogether? I feel that it just sets you up for an all-out binge once you start eating again, because that’s what tends to happen after deprivation.
WebMD seems to support my beliefs, and according to their site:
When you fast, your body is forced to dip into energy stores to get the fuel it needs to keep going, so you will lose weight. The big question is how long you will keep that weight off. Because food was often scarce for our ancestors, our bodies have been genetically programmed to combat the effects of fasting. When you eat less food, your metabolism slows down to conserve energy. Then, when you go back to your usual diet, your lowered metabolism may cause you to store more energy, meaning that you will probably gain back the weight you lost and possibly even put on more weight when eating the same calories you did before the fast.
As you fast, your body will adjust by reducing your appetite, so you will initially feel less hungry. But once you have stopped fasting, your appetite hormones will kick back into gear and you may actually feel hungrier and be more likely to binge.
So, in conclusion, fasting (such as with a water fast) for a day or two probably won’t hurt you if you’re generally healthy. Longer than that, though, and you start messing with your metabolism and depriving your body of necessary nutrients that it needs to survive. And unless it’s part of your religious practices (which I completely respect), I don’t think temporarily starving yourself does much good. I don’t know about you, but I actually like food and feel like a huge grouch when I’m hungry. If you want my advice, just cut out the crap. Yep, you heard me…lay off the alcohol and stop eating Cinnabon, pizza, Haagen Dazs, and 25-cent wings for a while. Eat fruits, veggies, healthy fats (like avocado), and drink more water and herbal tea…your body will detox naturally and you won’t have to starve yourself. Your body (and your friends, coworkers, and spouses) will thank you.
Ciao for now!