Fasting: Some practical guidelines

Here are some very practical guidelines on fasting that have been helpful for me from Adele Calhoun’s book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook:

  • Don’t fast when you are sick, traveling, pregnant or nursing. People with diabetes, gout, liver disease, kidney disease, ulcers, hypoglycemia, cancer and blood diseases should not fast.
  • Don’t fast if you are in a hurry and are fasting for immediate results regarding some decision. Fasting is not magic.
  • Listen for a nudging from God to fast.
  • Stay hydrated. Always drink plenty of water and fluids.
  • If you are new to fasting, begin by fasting for one meal. Spend time with God that you would normally be eating.
  • Work up to longer fasts. Don’t attempt prolonged fasts without guidance. Check with your doctor before attempting long periods of fasting.
  • If you decide to fast regularly, give your body time to adjust to new rhythms of eating. You may feel more tired on days you fast. Adjust your responsibilities appropriately. (Expect your tongue to feel coated, and expect to have bad breath.)
  • Begin a fast after supper. Fast until supper the next day. This way you miss two, rather than three, meals.
  • Don’t break your fast with a huge meal. Eat small portions of food. The longer the fast, the more you need to break the fast gently.

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