Monday, December 15, 2008

Not so fast

Done for both health and spiritual reasons, fasting is a period of abstinence from all food or specific items. A health reason for fasting is detoxification, the normal body process of eliminating or neutralizing toxins through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph glands, and skin. A spiritual reason for fasting is expression of interior penance in imitation of the fast of Jesus for forty days in the desert.

I have fasted for both health and spiritual reasons in the past. Yesterday morning I began a 30-hour fast required for a Monday afternoon medical examination. My fast began on Sunday around 10:00 a.m. and will end at 4:00 p.m. today.

Like most Americans, I am well fed – actually overfed - so a fast is good because it gives my digestive system a long-deserved rest. It also gives me an opportunity to experience the discomfort of real hunger and perhaps a dose of starvation rather than boredom hunger in my day-to-day relationship with food.

Something I read yesterday about fasting caught my attention. Fasting technically begins within the first 12 to 24 hours of the fast. It does not chemically begin until the carbohydrate stores in the body begin to be used as an energy source. The fast will continue as long as fat and carbohydrate stores are used for energy, as opposed to protein stores. Once protein stores begin to be depleted for energy (resulting in loss of muscle mass) a person is technically starving.

There’s no doubt that an episode of real hunger and starvation will do me good. Despite that good, my natural response on Sunday morning as the time was approaching to begin my fast was to look at the clock and tell it “not so fast”.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

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