Christmas last year was enjoyable. Maybe too enjoyable. The influx of sweets and other treats caused my weight to balloon greater than it should. Feeling sick and overweight, I decided to fast. I have been on a water only fast for a few days; specifically distilled water. In the past we felt that fasting was a spiritual exercise; but we have since confirmed its great health benefits. My fast was to help with my health problems, and deal with my excess fat. However, as always, God took my ordinary experience and infused them with His timeless truth.
The Complete Guide to Fasting
As we were out walking Milo today, Wanda and I were discussing what we had learned from our experiences with fasting. Wanda has a long history with fasting and is well versed in it; but her understanding was always connected to spirituality. For my last birthday, Ida and Fanny purchased the book The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung.
In this book, Wanda learned that fasting is a healthy part of normal life. Dr. Fung outlined how the abundance of sugars and carbs we consume daily can cause a great deal of weight gain and unwanted health problems. We store excessive amounts as fat in our bodies. Often, this excess fat we store causes Type 2 diabetes; or insulin resistance.
Type 2 diabetes is increasing; especially with the low fat, high carb western diet. The medical profession has tried dealing with type 2 diabetes with drugs that lower blood sugar; but that exacerbates the problem by increasing the person’s weight by flooding the body with more insulin; not less. Traditional medicine, with its synthetic drugs, does not have the answer. Patients suffering from metabolic problems are told it is a progressive disease. This troubled Dr. Fung.
Fat in the freezer
To solve the problem, Dr. Fung spent a considerable amount of time studying fasting and its health effects on the body. What he found was fascinating. Traditional weight loss plans of low fat and calorie restriction consumption, cause the metabolism of the body to slow down. Diets had a 99 percent failure rate and more weight gain than before the diet, when people returned to normal eating. Wanting to know why, he concluded that we store our excess fat in two places not one. He likens it to fat stored in the ‘fridge’ and fat stored in the ‘freezer’.
Traditional diets only take the fat out of the ‘fridge’ because the body never goes into fat burning mode. The only way to access the fat stored in the ‘freezer’ was to bring down insulin levels. Insulin acts like a guard around the ‘freezer’. Water fasting causes the body to access the ‘freezer’ within 36 hours. It resets the body and brings it back into balance. Giving the body a Sabbath rest. This reset included stopping Type 2 diabetes. He was stunned at the success rate of his patients. By denying the body food and sugars for a time, the toxins built up in the fat reserves of the body could be released; bringing optimal health to the person fasting. We can confirm his conclusions.
We have found that when we fast, we felt better and we lose weight. Today I feel healthier than I have in the past months.
The cyclical nature of food
When God created us He did so perfectly; and with the knowledge of what we would encounter as humans. Throughout history, periods of feasting and famine have been very regular. Remember that God used a famine to move the house of Jacob into Egypt.
God designed our bodies to handle the cyclical and sometimes unreliable access to food. Humans typically bulk up during times of plenty; and burn that bulk during times of want. As we consume food, we displace what we cannot digest as waste and use the rest to fuel our bodies. We put that excess into the ‘fridge’ of our bodies and use it as necessary. When the ‘fridge’ is full, what we cannot burn, within a period of time, is stored in our ‘freezer’; our excessive fat reserves.
As long as we have periods of feasting and fasting, balance is maintained and the ‘freezer’ is kept empty. The problem today lies with our constant, reliable access to food; and an overabundance of sugars that have plagued us in the past two centuries. God did not design our bodies to handle such continual access to food; especially sweets. The plague of obesity facing North America, and other parts of the world, is a huge problem.
We can exercise and diet all we want; but if we cannot empty the ‘freezer’ of excess fat we will be in trouble. This is the reason why fasting is so important to help us keep a healthy balance to our weight and health.
Spiritual Turkish delight
Now Wanda and I are not medical experts. This blog is primarily aimed to help people deal with issues of spirit not weight. So you might wonder why we are writing about fasting. Herein lies the genius of God; and the utter simplicity in how He leads us.
This morning, I was reading a word from a prophet that seemed to me so focused on symbolic imagery. I saw no practical relevance in it. It neither inspired nor helped; but rather confused me with esoteric words and flowery language. At the moment I referred to it as spiritual Turkish Delight. Sweet and wonderful to taste; but vacant of any nutritional value.
I often see this with prophetic writings; and it disturbs me that there is little practical application to what they are trying to convey. As ones who have gone through a difficult wilderness, we know just how important a grounded, practical faith is. We need it to survive the harsh reality of life.
We need the meat and potatoes of a practical faith; not spiritual Turkish Delight that ends up tasting good but leaving us empty.
Leaven of the religious
As Wanda and I were discussing all of this on our walk, a simple line came to me. “Jesus said to them, Be careful and on your guard against the leaven (ferment) of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 16:6. At that moment God revealed to us a primary truth about fasting; and its spiritual significance. We knew that, in the natural, bread is full of sugar, flour and yeast; or leaven. All of these cause the body to increase in fat.
When we eat this ‘leavened’ religious teaching, we store this toxic brew of manmade rules and ideologies into our ‘self’ nature. This is like our storage of sugars and carbs as fat. If we do not fast, we will never get rid of this toxic storage. The same can be said if we do not go through an extended period of time, breaking free from the pollution of religion. We will end up storing that excess ‘leaven’ in our ‘self-nature’ and become ill.
The wilderness is a place where we feast on Jesus. He said, “The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood [believes in Me, accepts Me as Savior] has eternal life [that is, now possesses it], and I will raise him up [from the dead] on the last day.” John 6:51.
We need to learn how to feast on Him and fast from ‘self’.
Fasting from religion
In our journey, we encountered many people. The sickest were those trapped in religion. They willfully refused to see how their ‘self’ nature had become extremely toxic. Religious people drive themselves farther and farther away from their loving God, and can not see the danger they are in. The prescription for them would be to fast; to rid themselves of religion and ‘self’ by an extended time in the wilderness.
In the wilderness, they would fast from religion and would only have Living Water to drink. By drinking Him exclusively, they would eventually be rid of the toxicity of religion and ‘self’; all that would keep them from entering into the life Jesus had prepared for them. The wilderness is a fast. Not necessarily from food although that may happen; but from the toxicity of religious leaders, people, and our own ‘self’ nature.
A word of caution is in order. For those who think they can just jump into a fast or go to the wilderness and be successful, be forewarned. Having been on a number of fasts, we can tell you it is not pleasant. When you physically fast, the initial stages are difficult. As the body throws off toxins in the system, there is nausea, headaches, chills, fatigue, and muscle pain; overall discomfort. All of this is quite normal; and to be expected. If one perseveres however, eventually a feeling of well-being comes back as balance and health are restored.
Over time regular fasting becomes easier as we acclimate to the change. Likewise, the wilderness is a difficult adventure as we throw off the toxins of ‘self’. Many times the pain and suffering will seem, and feel, unbearable. This is where patient endurance and perseverance are crucial to your success.
If you continue to follow Jesus, eventually you will be successful and will be much healthier spiritually.
Both fasting and the wilderness are God’s design to keep us healthy. Together they give us lessons that will aid us in our spiritual growth and maturity. By denying our bodies and ‘self’, of those things once fed on, we learn that God designed us to feast on Him; and Him alone. When we expel the toxicity of ‘self’, we will joyously discover we are healthier than we have ever been; and we will embrace a closer relationship with the One who dearly loves us. We encourage you to give your body a rest from that which brings it no benefit. Loose the bonds of religion from your tired aching body; find freedom with Him in the wilderness.
Homer and Wanda