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Symptoms of Fasting

Today I want to talk about fasting. Fasting is an effective and natural means of achieving quick detoxification and revitalization of one’s mind, body, and soul. That’s why when you go through a transition in life, make major dietary changes, or attempt a reversal of health complications, it’s often good to fast.

However before you start a fast, you need to be aware of some of the symptoms that can be experienced during your fast.

Unless fasting is a normal part of your scheduled cleansing and detoxification process, one or many of these symptoms may result until the body has adjusted itself and been cleansed internally of the emotional, mental, and physical “junk” it’s absorbed over your life.

First the good news: there is a light at the end of the detox tunnel. It takes about three days to get rid of the natural cravings for food or old habits that might creep in as a result of cleansing. Because fasting is a complete (or limited) abstinence from food except water, it’s a good idea to get LOTS of rest.

So why would you fast if you’re going to experience some detox symptoms. Well, fasting allows you to recover and rejuvenate physiologically and psychologically to rebuild your energy to a stronger and healthier level that is free from external stresses.

Here are some of the symptoms you may experience. Remember, every body is differet and you may experience all or even none of these symptoms. The important thing to keep in mind is that these symptoms are temporary and they will pass and also that they will get easier to manage over time.

Physical Symptoms:

As the body rids itself of toxins (both mental, emotional, and physical), you may experience:

  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • headaches
  • irritability
  • minor depression
  • lack of focus
  • increased body odor caused by elmination of toxins
  • negative emotional and mental patterns

Many will feel lethargic, have muscle and joint pain and slight dizziness.

If you’ve eaten a lot of cooked foods, processed sugar, caffeine, or other non-raw foods, you may find your body expelling those pathogens as part of the detox process. That’s why it’s good to drink plenty of water and get lots of rest to avoid dehydration.

You might also find that because the body is detoxifying, you’re susceptible to colds or flu viruses due to the amount of mucus in your system. An easy prevention is to drink lemon juice with water.

And finally, even people with great skin as well as anyone with problem skin may find they are prone to breakouts or skin rashes. This is a natural by-product of the body’s attempt to cleanse itseld and is temporary and will disappear the longer you fast.

Mental & Emotional Symptoms:

The fasting symptoms that you may find most troubling are the emotional symptoms. Emotionally, fasting will bring to surface underlying fears and other negative emotions that have gone undealt with. Anxiety levels may also increase and poor concentration until the body has achieved a inner balance. Our bodies are usually so focussed on digestion and our lives are often so busy that we do not allow our emotions to surface. Many fears are typically covered up with food, medication, and avoidance, omission of these stressors during the fast will bring them to surface quickly. Also the slower pace of fasting gives us time to concentrate on the emotions that we bury because we don’t have time to deal with them.

When you’re fasting, it’s an excellent time to meditate or journal to acknowledge these hidden or known fears and determine the positive direction you want to go after the fast.

Positive Symptoms:

Now before you go thinking that fasting should be avoided because of all the negative fasting symptoms, I want to tell you about the positive symptoms that typically result from fasting.

First is a heightened awareness of your present habits, lifestyle, and goals and whether they support your ideal life. You may also find your creativity increases and ideas that you put aside in the past are more clearly defined in your mind. You’ll be able to get projects done faster and with a clearer mind.

Physically, there are some great benefits from fasting. Not only is your mind clearer but you may find that your senses are heightened. I get lots of comments from people who fast who say their vision is clearer, their hearing crisper and of course almost everyone has a more glowing appearance.

To top it all off, fasting can also stimulate weight loss or help you find a balance in your ideal weight.

Whether your reason for fasting is periodic or seasonal, the initial symptoms experienced will always be minor compared to the long term benefits of cleansing!

Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.