Fasting Fundamentals

People choose to abstain from food for a variety of reasons: as a rite of spiritual purification, penitence and purification, communion with God, or to enhance healing. For fasting to be a catalyst for spiritual transformation–rather than an experience of discomfort or anxiety–is a good idea to develop a personal plan. Here are some strategies:

Prepare for the fast. Deciding that you want to fast is the first step toward achieving it. Once you have prepared yourself psychologically to dedicate and allot a certain amount of time to the fast, you’ll have a clearer understanding of the best setting and type of fast that’s right for you.

Eliminate problem-causing food.To benefit from the time you spend fasting, eliminate “discomfort-causing” foods and liquids from your diet several days before you begin to fast. Some examples: coffee, tea, excessive sweets, etc.

Clarify the type of fast. Do you intend to take a moderate approach to fasting, and refrain from eating during certain hours of the day? Or would you prefer to follow a juice fast that consists of various types of fruit and vegetable juice? The purest form of fasting, consisting of drinking only water, is a criteria of the vision quest fast.

Identify your intention. Why are you fasting? To commune with nature? Find a solution to a problem? Rest and heal?

Choose a setting.The environment in which you fast should help you to achieve your goals. If possible, select a setting that is conducive to opening you to sensory insights and new perspectives about your life.

Expect stages. When you first begin to fast, your body is still obtaining energy from recently eaten food. Depending on when you last ate, and how much, it will take time for your body physiology to slow down.

Consider activities. Along with deciding to set aside time to fast and “detox” preparation also means planning the activities that will take place during your fast. Some examples: meditating, creating a prayer circle, reading an inspirational book, keeping a journal.

Enhance spiritual awareness. Without the sensory stimulation of food, your thoughts, feelings, and soul are more likely to turn to, and open up to, spiritual subtleties. Without the satiety of food, your senses become keener, visual acuity sharpens, and aromas are more acute.

Break the fast. Fasting can provide an opportunity to give you a new perspective on what and how you usually eat. Before breaking the fast, consider any changes in your relationship t food. When you begin to eat again, choose small portions of easily digestible food, such as broth or soup. The longer you’ve fasted, the more time you’ll need to take to build up to your usual diet.

Adapted from Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul by Deborah Kesten. Copyright@2009 by Deborah Kesten

Deborah Kesten, MPH, is an international lifestyle and health researcher–and Certified Wellness and Cardiac Coach. She also is the award-winning author of The Enlightened Diet, Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul, and The Healing Secrets of Food. Call her at 415.810.7874 or visit her at to take her FREE What’s Your Eating Style? Quiz, and to learn more about her Whole Person Nutrition Program for wellness, weight loss, coaching, and books. provides content and community for who you aspire to be–personally, socially and globally.

By Deborah Kesten,


Cosmic Sky
Sky Price3 years ago

Thx keep hearing stuff about these.would never completely try it fully though

bria broccoli
bria broccoli3 years ago

I'm on my second day of my twenty one day water fast, and so far the experience has been a good one. :3

Barbara P.
Barbara P5 years ago

Thank you x Very useful because I've been told to use a large amount of weight and want to try intermittent fasting to do so . Fingers crossed it'll work :)

Aud Nordby
Aud n5 years ago

thank you

Chad A.
Chad A5 years ago

There have been fasts of all sorts for many purposes from ancient times and the enduring traditions come with rules so it is a good ide to follow those rules or to consult a guide like this!

KS Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago


Joy Wong
Joy W7 years ago

Thank you for the info.

Sharon Balloch
Sharon Balloch7 years ago

I am fasting now, I drink tomato juice as I must look after my Mom while I do this. I am on day 11 and will break my fast Easter morning, I have done a 40 day fast but it was a once in a lifetime thing. I would recommend for those who wish to fast for health reason to do the Daniel fast from the bible.. veggies and water. That was the fast that I felt like million bucks on, I could actually feel my body getting better and better. I do this fast for usually 20 days or whatever Advent is in that year.

For anyone who has never fasted be prepared for white tongue, all the toxins come out of your tongue and you have to keep brushing your teeth.