I want to talk to you about the demon that is disordered eating. If you are prone to this kind of behaviour and are considering an extended fast… you in the right place!
I have experience with an eating disorder. I have gone through many relentless cycles of restricting my food and then bingeing. It is a horrible place to be in, both physically and mentally.
I truly do believe that fasting can be a wondrous healing tool. However, if you have danced with the eating disorder devil, you should proceed with caution and care.
The goal of this article is tell you what to look out for when you are fasting. This should help you to navigate yourself back to a place of love if you are ever to spiral into eating disorder town.
Disordered eating usually involves some form of restriction in order to achieve a certain weight goal.
It entails behaviours that range from mild to wild. From calorie restriction to purging food and it wreaks havoc on the body and the mind. When someone suffers from an eating disorder, there is usually a lack of self love. The individual is not content in their own skin. There is a lot of ego involved and often an unrealistic self (and societal) imposed expectation of how one should look.
Fasting when done from a place of love, is usually aimed towards healing.
Sometimes it is done for weight loss purposes, which can be a healthy strategy when navigated consciously and maturely. Fasting, when done by someone who embodies self love. This person stands a much better chance at not being triggered, as opposed to someone who is unsettled in themselves.
Fasting from Love VS Fasting from Restriction
Regardless of the motive behind fasting, weight loss often results and usually this is a pleasant side effect.
For someone who has been unable to resolve the trauma of disordered eating, rapid weight loss can be a trigger for dysfunction. For this person, fasting can become an addictive means of losing weight quickly. Or as a way to ‘get back on track’ after periods of indulgence.
The problem with using fasting in this way, as a means of restricting calories, lies in the word ‘restriction’ itself. Fast from a place of love, the mind doesn’t necessarily see the process as a form of restriction.
If the original motive is one of healing and self love, there is less chance of you running into problems with bingeing and / or bulimia (to name just a few horrid forms of ED). Both of which are acts self loathing.
When a fast transforms into an act of cruel self deprivation, in order to lose weight, the experience becomes negative in nature.
If the mind feels as though it is being restricted, you can almost guarantee periods of bingeing are around the corner...
… Followed by another period of fasting to ‘undo’ the ‘damage’. Followed up another binge and so on.
This repetitive, relentless cycle can get stuck on repeat and it confuses the hell out of your physical body. It is actually a counterproductive means of weight loss. Your body will cling to fat in order to protect you. What’s more is that your hormones (which are ESSENTIAL to health) can end up in the gutter.
The mental and emotional levels of your being can also become very unbalanced. As is the nature of restriction, you become obsessed with those foods you ‘can’t have’. You go to bed thinking of food and it is the first thing that creeps into your consciousness upon waking. You will avoid social situations in order to keep temptation at bay. If you do over indulge, you will make up for it by not eating at all the next day.
There is a very real risk here of losing all sense of balance and becoming mentally consumed by what you can and cannot eat.
How to Fast Consciously
The word consciously says it all. You must always fast with awareness. Be conscious of your original motives and make sure your fast doesn’t transform into a game of self deprivation.
Notice the nature of your thoughts.
Is the mind running stories of self love, nourishment and healing, or ones of restriction, guilt and shame? If you can be aware of this, you can pull back when necessary. If you do see there is a need to pull back, focus more on a balanced diet. Eat an abundance of healthy foods as opposed to trying to navigate a full blown fast. You can still achieve amazing results by eating a more transitional diet of fruits and plants.
Break the Cycle
If you do find yourself stuck in a restriction mindset, hit the restriction hard. Give yourself a week where you eat as much as you want of whatever you want.
That might seem daunting if you have the calorie fear. However trust and notice that the mind stops obsessing when you allow it to have what it wants. Maybe the first day you WILL eat 20 cookies, but the next day, maybe it will be 10. Then it will be 5 and so on. Maybe there will be a day where you don’t have any.
Trust this process!
I have used it many times before and mentally saying ‘YES’ invites a calmness into the mind. It is when we say ‘no’ repeatedly, that when we do indulge, the mind says ‘better eat enough for 45 men now. Here’s a one time deal’… but it’s never a one time deal is it..
If the mind knows, its ok, I can have some more later. Or tomorrow, or the next time, it is less likely going to panic and let gluttony run the show.
Take Home Message
Fasting from a place of love can provide the body and the mind with a well needed rest. Stay conscious and aware of your motives and the kind of stories that are coming up in the mind. Know when it is time to pull back and end a fast. In these times choose love by nourishing yourself with an abundance of healthy foods.
Try to see food more often as fuel as opposed to guilty indulgence.
YES, it is great to indulge from time to time. However the more you use food to energise your being the more mentally balanced you will come in regards to your meals. Find other ways to feel pleasure, stimulation and connection.
Restricting yourself and then feeling guilt and shame when you do eat, these are all self imposed layers of suffering and can be mentally crippling. Love yourself enough to only fast with pure intent.