Obviously I am not a doctor, and the following is purely based on my opinions and experiences, with a little bit of research and information from other sources.
On the 1st April 2023 I started a challenge unlike any I’d ever attempted. A 10 day fast, where I was only allowed to drink water for the duration. I would like to tell you about my experience during that time, how I’ve been feeling since, and the reasonings behind me doing such a seemingly radical / extreme challenge.
I have done two 7 days fasts in the last couple of years, and many one / two day fasts, so I knew I was capable of getting to 10 days, although I was curious about how I would feel during the time. I decided to spend the majority of the 10 days in nature (the first weekend I was working).
I chose to fast for 10 days as part of a 12 month fundraising challenge for my friend Karrie. I also chose this challenge because it was both mental and physical, knowing that my mind… self-discipline, motivation and dedication… would be tested probably more so than my body.
I chose to fast in nature as this is our true home, where we thrive and where we heal. I knew I needed to be in a safe place. My daily routine involved waking, lighting incense and burning sage and / or palo santo, breath work (conscious breathing and breath holds), mantra meditation (108 repetitions of Om Moksha Ritam - mantra for self-liberation), one or two cold water swims in the river, the lake or the sea, and two or three barefoot walks with my two companion buddies Zala and Simba. I also practiced daily yoga, and usually read at some point. I basically slowed the F down, and took a lot more time and paid a lot more attention to the simple things - things like lighting incense became a ritual that I found joy in, and because I wasn’t focused on food in fact the opposite, trying to keep thoughts of food from my mind, these little simple practices became the cornerstones of my day. Things that I truly began to appreciate and see the importance of.
By day 6 and 7, I noticed my energy really begin to lower. But it was beautiful. It forced me to take it easy. I would take a lot longer over our walks, instead of pacing ahead, I would stop if my energy was low and I needed a few moments. But this allowed me to truly inhale and feel in to my experience and surroundings. It may seem unimportant, but being forced to slow down meant I actually saw the trees and their beautiful twisting branches and delicate features, I actually heard the songs of the birds, giving myself the time to take in their gorgeous individual melodies. I sat by the river and let the sun wash over me, and instead of wondering what the time was and pressuring myself to move.. cause maybe I’d been there too long.. I just surrendered and let my body tell me when it was time to push on. These days and these experiences made me realise I have never in my life truly slowed down. There has always been something at the back of my mind telling me I haven’t got the time to be doing this.. reminding me I have a whole list of to dos that need to be done ASAP… the reality is almost always, the list can wait. Yes achieving goals is important, but so is just being in the moment, letting yourself relax in to nature, our innate home.
By day 9 and 10, although I still had to (and wanted to) take it easy, I felt I had a little more energy. I broke the fast on day 11 with a break-fast of avocado, with foraged dandelion, nettle and plantain cooked with mushrooms, tomatoes, and a mix of seeds. It was one of the most glorious meals I’ve ever tasted, and the remaining meals of the day, blueberries with nuts, other fruit, and a lentil Dahl for evening supper were beyond tasty.
So why did I do it? And what have I learnt?
The notion that we have to eat 3 meals a day, every day, is beyond nuts (no pun intended). I’d even go as far to say that it’s actually pretty damaging to us. I think we nearly all have trauma around food, and to think we NEED to consume three meals a day overrides how we are truly feeling. I’m sure we’ve all been there when you’re not actually hungry, but because it’s the morning, we NEED to eat breakfast.. or it’s after midday.. it’s definitely time for lunch, for more food. It’s all conditioning.. If we took this ‘3 meals a day’ concept away, and just felt in to our rhythm and energy levels, I think we’d all have a much healthier relationship with food.
Doing the fast, especially such a long fast, really helps to start breaking these habits and these addictive tendencies. Here in the UK, and in many other parts of the world, our diets are now saturated with salt, oil and sugar. These three things are generally not great for us, and they’re highly addictive. One of the great benefits of fasting is, you give your body a complete break from these things, which in turn helps to break the addictions we have with them. I have come out of the fast craving whole foods, fruit, veg, foraged plants, and I don’t think I’ll ever buy any processed foods again, now I see they are closer to poison and no-substance filler than nutrition.
Fasting also helps remind us of how grateful we should be for our food. When you haven’t eaten for 10 days, you really fcking appreciate every single mouthful that enters your body. And when you are grateful and appreciative, you savour your meals more, you taste each mouthful more, which tells your body and your brain that you are being satisfied on both a nutritional level and a happy taste-buds level.
Fasting also gives your digestive system a break. It isn’t natural for us to be constantly eating, whether it be meals, snacks, or more snacks. By giving our systems a rest, essential healing can take place, and the body can focus on other areas in need of attention and energy.
So if fasting for you?
Absolutely. I would recommend fasting if you are committed to becoming the healthiest (mentally and physically) version of yourself. Intermittent fasting is very popular. My current routine will involve 1-day fasting every week, with longer fasts (3 days and longer) every few months.
10 days sounds like a long time, but if you’d told me I was going to complete a 10 days fast a year ago I would have told you to bugger off. In reality, it was a life-changing experience and I will definitely be doing it again.
I would recommend you look in to fasting if -
*you have addictions / past trauma with food
*you have addictions to processed food
*you want to deepen your connection with your mind, body and soul
*you want to deepen your spirituality
*you want to implement one the best practices and disciplines for your body and mind
*you want to improve your mental and physical health
If you are interested in fasting, I’d be really happy to hear from you especially if you have any questions about my experiences.
Loads of love everyone, and thanks for reading xxx
PS these are some of the photos I took during the 10 days, and the video was taken just before my first meal.
PPS You can follow my other challenges and support the fundraiser for Karrie at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-karrie-brain-injury-recovery