The One Thing Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed Agreed On

Fast for a cancer-free, healthy and hot body

To enjoy freedom we have to control ourselves. Virginia Woolf

What brought Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed together is fasting. If it was good enough for some of the wisest men in history, surely there must be some value to it?

A couple of months ago, I ate nothing at all for five days. I got inspired by learning in Tim Ferriss’ latest book how doing this twice a year purges the body on precancerous cells. Although sounding excruciating, I was ready to trade comfort for skipping cancer.

But I first experienced fasting years ago, before it got trendy. It was an involuntary consequence of my struggles with compulsive overeating, which left my finances in ruins.

My food addiction was expensive and caused mood swings that weren’t conducive with responsible financial behaviour. My self-destruction had destroyed my self-worth, and I was staying in an underpaid job. I could hardly pay the bills, but it didn’t occur to me for a long time to ask for a raise or switch career.

The result was that for a couple of days on a couple of occasions, I did not have money for food. There are few things in my life for which I have felt so much shame.

There I was: an educated, Western woman who was wearing a suit and had a “corporate career” — and I was too broke to feed myself. Many people around me would gladly have helped me if I’d have asked. But I was too ashamed to admit that I had a problem.

Needless to say, it wasn’t a very pleasant experience. So when I decided to fast by choice for five days, I was scared. Food used to be my emotional crutch. Even now when I’m eating healthily, I like to have the option of a healthy treat. The bare thought of not even having that for five full days was freaking me out!

It turned out that the biggest challenge with the fasting was mental. Physically, I was fine. I was surprised that I during the five days felt energetic as per usual and hardly experienced any hunger. (Thanks to using Bulletproof Coffee and Brain Octane, as described below. This gives almost or all benefits of water fasting, explained here.)

By the end of my fast, I felt amazing. It was so empowering to having faced my fears and stuck with my commitment. I was thrilled to realise what a good relationship with eating that I now have: my food fantasies during my fast were healthy and nothing like the junk food obsessions that I used to have. My body looked better than ever, too (if only for a few hours).

Fasting is not for everyone (definitely not for pregnant and breastfeeding women) and it’s good to check with a doctor first. Five days might be a lot to start with, but why not try intermittent fasting by eating within a six-hour window?

I’m a weight loss coach, and I recently had a client who tried this approach. He lost eight pounds in his first week, after years of little results despite copious amounts of efforts. He’d followed the “expert advice” that we so often hear about the importance of snacking every few hours. I’m sure that this strategy makes sense to food companies, but it doesn’t seem to do so for weight loss.

Decreasing the risk of cancer, connecting spiritually, losing weight… Perhaps the idea of fasting is as unappealing to you as it was to me before I tried. But when considering the potential upsides, what do you think now?

How to fast with energy and no hunger:

  1. Bulletproof Coffee. Drink a cup in the morning, to stay energetic and satiated for hours.
  2. Brain Octane. Have a couple of tablespoons a couple of times during the day, and you will stay satiated.
  3. Avoid temptations. Skip any exposure to food: social gatherings, TV, magazines; you name it. If you’re struggling, a Pavlok wristband might be a helpful tool.

Benefits of fasting (apart from weight loss and other health benefits):

  1. Discipline. Whatever we want to achieve in life, it’s contingent on us not throwing in the towel. Fasting will make most of us want to give up at times and resisting the urge cultivates discipline.
  2. Save time and money. Your schedule does not have to revolve around eating. What can you spend your money and time on instead?
  3. Feast. The best part of fasting is, of course, the feast to break it! In a society where food is so easily accessible, you will get a boost of appreciation by abstaining for a while.

My fasting back in my broke, binge eating days was associated with shame, guilt and hunger. Now, fasting is a choice I make for my health and wellbeing. It’s a reminder every month about the abundance that I have to be grateful for, and that I finally have healed my relationship with food. As a bonus, I’m hoping for a bit of Buddha’s enlightenment paired with a hotter body.

Alexia Bjarkan

Weight Loss Coach at Helping clients reach target weight and heal their relationship with food.

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