"All we need to do is know our nature and mimic nature's way."
So what is nature's way in relation to fasting and cleansing? Each season offers us a reason to reset our bodies and to turn our attention inward. It is advisable to cleanse and fast with the shift in each season and to set our intentions with these shifts. When we start to honor our bodies and ourselves as part of the natural living world, we notice the ebbs and flows within ourselves and the cycles of our unfolding.
Fall is the season of letting go, It is in essence nature's reset button, it's a call for introspection. As we move our focus inward, we reset our bodies to be able to support us during the darker and heavier days ahead. Fasting is a way of preserving your energy to be able to fulfill the function of healing at a deep level, in the same way, that a tree loses its leaves to preserve its energy down in its roots, so too do we mirror that process by shedding what is no longer needed to dream up our future and to grow and manifest come spring and summer.
Winter is a time of scarcity and also of solitude. After the heaviness and buzz of the modern holiday season and the spike in sugar, alcohol, and fatty foods that we find ourselves partaking in, we turn our attention from consumption to conserving our reserves. Fasting allows us to deepen into a relationship with ourselves by removing distractions and supporting our organs of elimination by giving them a break to repair and heal at a deep level.
Spring is a wonderful time to cleanse our bodies and support our liver, Spring specifically offers us her bounty that reflects the need for liver support in plants such as dandelion, nettle, chickweed, cleavers, and violets. After indulging in the fatty foods of winter, spring herbs flourish as a way for us to move the heaviness up and out with the help of lymphatic herbs such as chickweed and cleavers and to support our liver in moving the fats and waste products aka toxins out of our bodies. That is why spring is also associated with the color green in Traditional Chinese Medicine and with the sour or bitter taste of plants such as dandelion.
Summer is a time of energy and expression. In these times we can often over-indulge and overexert ourselves in an effort to shine as brilliantly as the sun. Fasting is a great way to stay grounded and reconnect with ourselves during this time. You will find that introducing fasting into the transitions of the seasons to be a wonderful way to regroup and heal at a deep level.
It really is no wonder that so many cultures have a tradition of fasting deeply embedded in their ethos. Below are some types of intermittent fasting regimens.
Types of Intermittent Fasting Regimens
Cultures around the world have fasted since time immemorial and up until recently, fasting was/is mainly practiced as a religious or spiritual act. Examples of fasting include Lent in Christianity; Yom Kippur, Tisha B'av, Fast of Esther, Tzom Gedalia, the Seventeenth of Tamuz, and the Tenth of Tevet in Judaism. Muslims refrain from eating during the hours of daytime for one month, Ramadan, every year. Fasting is also a feature of ascetic traditions in religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Mahayana traditions that follow the Brahma's Net Sutra may recommend that the laity fast "during the six days of fasting each month and the three months of fasting each year". Members of the Baháʼí Faith observe a Nineteen Day Fast from sunrise to sunset during March each year.
These days scientific data has become available to back up the many health benefits and fasting extends far beyond just religious and/or spiritual realms. Science now has shown that fasting includes health benefits such as reducing insulin resistance and regulating blood sugar level, fighting excessive inflammation, promoting good heart health, boosting brain function and preventing neurodegenerative disorders, promoting weight loss, and even has a balancing effect on hormones.
Fasting, whether for religious reasons or simply for health reasons, is a deeply spiritual practice, connecting you to yourself and making space for meditation, silence, and slowing down.
Here are some types of intermittent fasting regimens:
Alternate Day Fasting: These regimens involve alternating fasting days (no energy-containing foods or beverages consumed) with eating days (foods and beverages consumed as desired).
Modified Fasting Regimens: Modified regimens allow for the consumption of 20–25% of energy needs on scheduled fasting days. This regimen is the basis for the popular 5:2 diet, which involves severe energy restriction for 2 non-consecutive days a week and eating as desired the other 5 days.
Time-Restricted Feeding (commonly referred to as Intermittent Fasting): These protocols allow individuals to eat as desired within specific windows, which induces fasting periods on a routine basis.
Religious Fasting: A wide variety of fasting regimens are undertaken for religious or spiritual purposes.
Ramadan Fasting (or dry fasting): A fast from dawn to sunset during the holy months of Ramadan. The most common dietary practice is to consume one large meal after sunset and one lighter meal before dawn. Therefore the feast and fast periods of Ramadan are approximately 12 hours in length and the fast period includes no food or water, hence called a dry fast).
Abstinence: Some fasts including refraining from some particular type of food or drink. One traditional expression of abstinence is to avoid meat on Fridays in Lent or through the entire year, except in the seasons of Christmas and Easter.
Other Religious Fasts: Latter Day Saints followers routinely abstain from food and drink for extended periods of time. Some Seventh-day Adventists consume their last of 2 daily meals in the afternoon, resulting in an extended nighttime fasting interval.
So with that, find your own rhythm and unique way to fast. It can be a liquid fast, a dry fast, abstaining from certain foods or simply a16 hour intermittent fast. There is no right or wrong way to fast but only ways that suit you and your deep healing. So with that, happy fasting!