Imagine if today you challenged yourself to completely change your routine regarding food. Today was going to be a start of a 30-day period where you only ate certain things and limited how much you ate. No more sweets or desserts. No alcohol or soda. Nothing fried or processed. No meat. No dairy.
Would you do this challenge intentionally? Why would someone do this intentionally? Could you do it?
Michelle and I started another 30-day fast/challenge. Want to join us?
One of the best ways to exercise intentional living is to do a fast. According to the all-knowing internet, a fast is
Over the last couple of years, Michelle and I have done a couple of these fasts/challenges where we commit to living our lives a very specific way for a specific period of time. We do this for a couple of reasons:
- An opportunity to practice and build self-control
- A way to learn what one can and cannot live without
- A reminder of actions and things that we do that are unintentional
- A reminder of those that don’t have the privilege, freedom, and access to food options
For a fast regarding food there are also secondary benefits:
- Healthier eating
- Savings from not going out to eat as much
- Typically loss of some excess weight (gained from holiday eating)
- Learning how to cook better (expanding cooking skills and learning new things to cook)
Now seemed like a good time to do a fast since the holiday season is over and January and February are not typically festive months (unless you are a football fan).
We believe in the celebration principle, meaning that life should be celebrated in moderation. Certain foods that are typically viewed as unhealthy, like desserts, are not inherently bad. They can become harmful to your life if you eat desserts everyday and use an excuse such as a “celebration” to justify your behavior.
Celebrating should be a good thing. Eating desserts everyday may seem like it would be a good thing, but it isn’t. When it happens regularly, it’s no longer special, it’s a habit. Over time, we don’t even think about what we are doing. What’s worse is that we will use the celebration justification not just to feed ourselves desserts, but with other food we might not normally eat on a day to day basis. We trick ourselves into believing that we have to eat our favorite things as if it’s our last meal on earth.
Like all habits, the only way to break free is to be aware of what we are doing, be honest with ourselves, and finally, teach ourselves new habits. We need to be rewired, retaught, and retrained to think and react to food differently.
This has been the story of my life for the past 8 years.
|What we ARE eating/drinking||What we are NOT eating/drinking|
|Nuts & Seeds||Leavened bread|
|Quality Oils||Fried food|
|Salt & Pepper|
Tips for Fasting
The list above is what we are doing. (It’s similar to the “Daniel Fast” with a few exceptions.) It doesn’t mean that you should or have to do the exact thing if you want to try a fast.
If this is your first time fasting, start slow and small. Just try to limit or do 1 thing for 30 days straight. Then in your next fast, add another thing, and so on. Most people fail challenges and fasts because they take on too much in the beginning. Then the only thing you learn from that fast was the feeling of disappointment from not completing your goal. One of the most important things about a fast is not about what you eat or do, but teaching yourself to achieve goals in spite of challenges and obstacles you might face. That change is possible.
Do it in community
Find others who would be willing to do this challenge with you. It’s not easy to do a fast or any challenge like this on your own (especially if you’re sharing your kitchen with someone). Also, having a support group will help reduce the number of people accidentally tempting you by dropping off a cake at your house or something.
Plan it out
So you are going to avoid eating X. What is X in and what can you make or substitute for X? You’ll realize you might never have thought about how many things had X in it. Be aware. Learning to think about things more intentionally is a huge part of the process. Also, when thinking about food, plan out what you can eat in advance when eating out or going to a party. Don’t allow those situations to become the excuse to make an exception. Be exceptional and intentional to think of alternative solutions in advance. Eat before the party. Bring your own meal. Suggest restaurants that accommodate your temporary diet. And..
Share the journey
I used to keep challenges and goals a secret. The thought process behind this for me was that if nobody else knows what I’m doing, nobody will know if I fail. Sharing with people about your fast/challenge helps them understand what is going on in your life. It challenges them to think about their own lives. Hopefully when you do share, your friends and family will support you and keep you accountable. If you’re lucky (and it happens), people will even join you.
So are you in? Need help starting? Have any questions?
Let’s go fast.
We’ve written about food and fasting in the past. Here are some of our previous posts: