Your Personal Guide to Fasting and Prayer

What Physical Effects to Expect

By Dr. Bill Bright

Although fasting can be an indescribable blessing, it is not always easy for everyone. In this time of discipline, self-sacrifice and reflection, do not be surprised if you experience mental and physical discomforts.

To begin, you may experience some inner conflict when you deny yourself the pleasure of eating delicious food. Any sort of fast may sometimes leave you feeling impatient and irritable. During a 3-day fast, this struggle can intensify toward the end of the second day. That seems to be a favorite time for the "self" to rise up and say, "This is as far as I want to go. I have done enough."

Physical Effect

Hunger Pangs: These are greatest usually during the first three days of the fast. Your body is adjusting from using the food in your digestive tract (which remains about three days) to consuming stored fats.

Suggested Relief:

Psyllium Bulk: Help eliminate hunger pangs and also aids in cleansing the body. Several capsules can be taken throughout the day with plenty of water.

Silymarin tablets may also be helpful, for they are believed to protect and enhance the cleansing of the liver.

 


Physical Effect

Coldness, bad breath and heightened body odor, changes in elimination (constipation or diarrhea), light-headedness, changes in sleeping and dreaming patterns, aches and pains.

A white-coated tongue at the beginning of a fast may be a part of the body's pattern of throwing off toxins.

Also expect to go the the bathroom often (you will be drinking lots of water!)

Suggested Relief

After the first two weeks of an extended fast, many of these symptoms subside. Continuing aches in a certain area of the body usually means elimination of fatty tissue is going on in that area, which is not harmful. However, any extensive pain should be examined immediately.

YOU SHOULD STOP FASTING IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING SEVERE PAIN OR SWELLING.


Physical Effect

Headaches or stomachaches may be a result of salt, sugar, or caffeine withdrawal.

Suggested Relief

Eliminating those items from your diet prior to fasting is the best way to avoid these pains.


Physical Effect

Lower back pain may indicate that you are dehydrating

Suggested Relief

Drink more fluids


Physical Effect

Dizziness may be caused by a sudden change in position, such as rising suddenly from a chair.

Suggested Relief

Stop for a second or two, then recover. Move slowly. (A word of caution: these conditions may be symptoms of other problems requiring medical attention).


Physical Effect

Minor fasting discomfort

Suggested Relief

Take one teaspoon of psyllium seed powder morning and evening. Mixed in lukewarm water, it becomes like Jell-O. This powder will hasten the elimination of toxins from your colon and help to prevent headaches and dizziness for most healthy people. Alfalfa tablets can help control bad breath and cleanse the system. Two tablets at a time can be taken several times a day.


In my desire to be absolutely faithful to my first 40-day fast, I stopped taking my usual vitamins and minerals. However during subsequent fasts, I have felt strongly impressed to continue my vitamin and herbal therapy and also using psyllium. I do this to keep my "temple" healthy while continuing to deny myself the pleasure of eating solid food.

During your fast, you may have your struggles, discomforts, spiritual victories, and failures. In the morning you may feel like you are on top of the world, but by evening you may be wrestling with the flesh-sorely tempted to raid the refrigerator and counting how many more days are left in your fast. This is especially true if you are new at fasting. To counteract temptations like these, take extra time with the Lord to spend with God. Step outside for fresh air and a moderate walk of a mile or two, and talk to the Lord as you walk along. And in the process always keep on sipping water or juice frequently during your waking hours.

Next: Finishing Your Fast