The buzz words ‘Intermittent Fasting’ are becoming very familiar, but what about ‘Autophagy’?
Auto coming from the word ‘self’ and phagein ‘to eat’. This is literally the process that happens in the body when fasting occurs and cells are broken down and therefore regeneration of newer cells occur.
I had been benefiting from intermittent fasting (restricting my eating window to daytime light only) for some time. In this fasted state I enjoyed being more alert, lighter and of course the side benefits that come from training your body to utilise its fat stores.
However, the more I listened into my body the more I sensed the desire to take my fasting to longer periods of time and so I experimented around 24 hours & then eventually 36 hours successfully.
At this point, I started researching into well-documented work from as far back as 1880. In the British Medical Journal was the example of one Dr Tanner who, when plagued by unbearable suffering and illness decided that dying from starvation would be easier.
But as time went by his body began to heal from all of its ailments. You see up to 70% of the body’s energy is utilised to digest food.
What would that energy get the chance to do if given the opportunity? I too often suffer from slow digestion, sluggish metabolism and what I know to be a holding of too many toxins as a result of modern-day consumption.
The question was simply, when? When will I be able to step away from my day to day environment so that I can give my body a chance to rest whilst taking a deeper dive into a fasted state?
So I knew my travels to Costa Rica would be a perfect time. Costa Rica holds 5% of the world's biodiversity & is a wellness paradise of tropical fruits & coconuts galore which are full of essential vitamins, minerals & electrolytes. Perfect to fuel a fasted state at entry level!
Here's what I learned;
For most of my life, I've been listening to the importance of food. Here are some examples, “It's breakfast time!”, “Are you coming for lunch?”, “What are you having for dinner?”, “Are you hungry?”
Without even realising you get to the point where you truly believe you can't survive without food. When I started fasting I broke all of those assumptions in the same way that Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile. After those beliefs change it becomes easier as the mind is now open. The battle truly is the mind & not the body!
When I asked my body, are you really hungry? The answer was no, its just I like to eat. So then came the new challenge, what do I do with all that time I spend thinking, looking for, or eating food? Yikes! I had soooo much more time now to write, to slowly move in nature to just ‘be’. Most people are uncomfortable with their silence and their thoughts and therefore food provides perfect escapism. Also, when everyone else is eating you now have this perfect window to spend with you. What I came to love was this extra window of time I now had for self-care
So how did I feel? The first few days were spent in my mind, replacing old limiting beliefs with new ones and telling myself I was fasting for 7 days, but after day 3 an energy kicked in that was so powerful that I did 2 yoga classes on day 4. One day I didn't even need any coconut water but I was averaging the water from 2 whole coconuts a day.
I noticed on day 6/7 it was important to remind myself to move slower, as I would get slightly light headed if I stood up too fast but it was clear that I didn't have any hunger pangs, so I decided to extend past 7 days and to make the decision daily.
By day 11 I honestly felt my body could continue but I was nervous about an upcoming trek & that I would be taking a risk by not having the energy to complete it safely so I decided to start the reintroduction of food with 2 days of eating fruit and waking my digestive system.
It always amazes me that the heart never forgets to beat but we forget how sophisticated the body is and that its intelligence knows that if given the chance it will work on true healing. For me, I felt lighter and more empowered with a knowledge that sometimes the true healing starts when we just stop and yes that even includes eating!
If you’re new to the practice I’d recommend starting small and introducing short periods of fasting into your routine before introducing longer periods.
Remember that I took care to ensure I was getting vitamins and electrolytes from coconuts, so you also need to ensure you remain hydrated & have a source of the necessary minerals, just in case.
Do share this article with anyone you believe would like the support to reach their health goals. You can watch my short video on my facebook page vlog and be sure to sign up for my newsletter at elikafit.com