GIVING YOUR BODY THE CHANCE TO REST
Fasting has recently become a popular since Dr Michael Mosley’s 5:2 diet arrived on the scene, but the healing and health benefits of fasting have been known for thousands of years. Fasting can be literally no food – just water with lemon and herbal teas, but it can also mean having very limited amounts of food – which is the basis of the 5:2 Diet where on 2 non-consecutive days, food is restricted to 500 calories a day (for women: 600 for men). And then eating ‘normally’ on the other days of the week.
Fasting allows your body to rest. It gives your body a chance to empty the gut more thoroughly than when there is an abundance of food being processed. It’s also been shown that fasting with minimal protein intake, makes your body repair its own cells rather than creating new ones, which again has been shown to be greatly beneficial in terms of your health.
My concerns about the 5:2 approach is that it goes back to counting calories. Whilst I would hope people would make good choices and include lots of vegetables and small amounts of protein within their 500 calories a day, I’m not sure that everyone does this. And the going back to eating and drinking ‘normalcy on the other days of the week doesn’t encourage healthier eating behaviour or patterns in the long term. I’m also not sure how long people would be willing to adopt this pattern of eating. Reverting to ‘normal’ 7-days a week will inevitably lead to regaining weight.
However, I am in favour of doing an occasional fast or having what I call a Light Eating Day as the benefits are very worthwhile. I usually do an Ayurvedic Mung Bean Soup Fast once every 4-6 weeks.
WHAT IS AYURVEDA?
Ayurveda is “The Science of Life” and dates back 5,000 years. It is still widely used in Indian Medicine today, and hospitals combine this ancient wisdom with modern medicine. The principles of Ayurveda for healing your body is based on the fact that your body has a unique, specific energy type, which is then influenced by what is going in in your life. Ayurveda assesses your unique energy type (dosha) and then food, massage, oils and medicine is given according to your unique needs. In Ayurveda there are 3-different doshas and in total 7 different combinations of how these different energies show up in someone. Everyone has a mixture of all three doshas, but typically one is stronger than the other two. Health and wellness is restored when the 3 doshas are rebalanced.
THE AYURVEDIC APPROACH TO FASTING
In Ayurveda there are different fasting approaches for according to your health and medical needs. As with Western medicine, it is believed that fasting cleanses the digestive system – allowing the body to deal with the remnants of undigested food and allowing the stomach and gut to have a rest.
The Mung Bean Soup Fast can be done for 1–3 days. I’ve personally never done it for more than one day at a time, but a 1-day Fast is still a powerful cleanse. As the recipe is based on your own body type, then it helps to identify what yours is. A full Ayurvedic test includes many questions, blood, hair and urine tests, tongue analysis and a pulse taking. However, this little quiz will help you begin to see what your predominant energy type might be. And I’ve written about Ayurveda in more detail in this article: Understanding More About Ayurveda which tells you more about the doshas, the 6 different tastes as well as the different Mung Bean Soup recipes
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A MUNG BEAN SOUP vs 500 CALORIES DAY?
Eating only Mung Bean Soup Fast means your body has just a handful of different ingredients to process: Mung Beans, Ghee (or Coconut Oil) and your particular blend of spices. This contrasts to the 60–120 different ingredients that people typically eat in one day. The Mung Beans provide good amounts of protein, fibre, vitamins B1, B2 and B6, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium, as well as small amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Copper and Manganese. The fat lubricates the digestive tract and slows down the transit time through the stomach (as does the fact it’s eaten as a soup) which helps the levels of hunger you might experience. By dividing the food into 3 portions, you are spacing out the food regularly. Most people who do the 5:2 diet have a very light breakfast, a piece of fruit for lunch and their biggest meal in the evening. Although obviously the evening meal is still limited, this still asks the body to process the most food late in the day when your body needs more energy in the morning rather than later in the day.
Whilst doing the Mung Bean Soup Fast, I weave in mediation, and quiet time so this whole day is a healing process: rather than a starvation day forcing my body to burn up body fat.
WHAT IS A LIGHT EATING DAY?
A Light Eating Day is just what is a “what it says on the tin” so to speak. It’s a day when you consciously eat less – to help your digestive system rest, but it’s not as strict as a Fasting Day. When I do a Light Eating Day, it’s a purely vegetarian day with no wheat or any form of bread. I might start with a hemp-protein based smoothie (like Cherry Punch) for breakfast, then for lunch I might have a large bowl of green vegetables sprinkled with seeds and nuts or a little feta and in the evening a large salad with many forms of salad and other raw vegetables sprinkled with cider vinegar.
I hope you will experiment with both fasting and light food days – it’s good to try new ways and experience what it feels like when do so. Do it always though from a place of love – and not though as a form of punishment to yourself.
Eat Well. Be Well