My belly has been feeling off. I don’t know if its the stress of the wedding or the fact I’ve been eating out too much lately, but my digestion is completely out balance – making me feel bloated every time I eat and along with bouts of upset stomach. And this has really taken a toll on my skin, for the first time in years, my eczema has flared up on my face in very obvious red patches. But last week when my mouth swelled up and I felt heat in my mouth I knew I needed to do something sharpish. Can you say high Pitta?
Unfortunately none of my usual fixes have worked – taking turmeric and neem did very little. I tried eliminating starches, increasing my water intake and limiting salt. Even super-alkalizing by taking baking soda (which is my ace in the hole of kitchen remedies) only gave me relief for a couple of days before reverting back into tummy ache and inflammation. So, I decided to go on a fast. I remember years ago Ayurvedic Doctor, Dr. Lele told me that the first thing he’d ever do if he fell ill was to start fasting. He explained that when the body does not spend energy breaking down and digesting food, it uses those resources to heal itself.
Many people get twitchy when I talk about fasting – they associate it with an eating disorder or insist that going sans food would deplete all of my energy, but I’ve done week long fasts before and if done properly, by the individuals with the right intention, its very helpful. Saying this, you can’t just jump into a fast willy nilly. You need to prepare, slowly lighten your diet until it becomes liquid and ween yourself back onto eating again. You also cannot be doing strenuous work or exercise programs that take up the energy you are trying to reserve by going onto the fast in the first place.
Now as you know, I’m pretty busy these days – so I wasn’t ready to go into the whole spiritual space of a full-on fast. Instead I opted to do a one day fast, in which I would also drink homemade soup broth (no salt) and the digestion supporting Clarifying Tea. According to Ayurveda, one day fasts can be very effective, and those who are high Vata and Pitta can also choose to eat water-rich fruits and veggies when feeling they cannot undertake anything too drastic.
So that’s what I did last Wednesday. And, I felt so good that I continued it for an extra day. This was spurred by the fact my mouth swelling completely disappeared and my stomach felt more settled than it did in weeks. When I broke my fast, I did so with a fresh squeezed vegetable juice – a yummy combo of carrot, celery, kale and beet. Post-fast I’ve been feeling much better. And, to my delight, my eczema flare up has subsided and the patches are going away. But I’m still paying attention to my diet, avoiding acidic foods and continuing to drink the Clarifying Tea.
If you decide to fast, it best to speak to your Naturopath, TCM doctor or Ayurvedic Practitioner about if this is best for your constitution right now. But, as you can see, a fast does not need to be a measure of discipline – it can be easy, short and gentle and still help you rebalance your body and restore its functions.