Three weeks ago I began a 21-day chocolate fast. I began this fast as a means to participate with my church community in fasting and praying for marriages during this time. Here is what I learned and experienced along the way.
What Is Fasting
Fasting is a practice dating back centuries in many cultures and religions. It is the absence from all or some food or drink for a certain period of time to focus the mind and body.
There are many types of fasting and food is not the only thing you can restrict. I find that fasting from social media, television or other habits is a good way to clear your mind and gain perspective.
Types of Fasting
There are 5 main fasting categories:
- Water Fasting – only water for a set period of time.
- Juice Fasting – only vegetable or fruit juice for a set period of time.
- Intermittent Fasting – partially or completely restricting some food/drink for a few hours or days at a time, then returning to normal eating.
- Partial Fasting – eliminating certain foods, drinks or habits for a set period of time.
- Calorie Restriction – eliminating certain foods/drinks for a period of time.
Please note that fasting is meant to be temporary. Fasting for long periods of time can create health problems because you are depriving the body of necessary nutrients.
Benefits of Fasting
There are many studies that reflect health benefits from fasting. There is a great article in Healthline with detailed information about how the body responds to fasting. Click here if you want to read that article.
The following is a list of health benefits:
- Improved Blood Sugar Control
- Reduced Insulin Resistance
- Helps Fight Inflammation
- Improved Blood Pressure
- Boost Brain Function
- Aid in Weight Loss and Boost Metabolism
- Delay Aging
While this is not an exhaustive list, it is certainly a good reason to consider fasting.
Why I Chose Chocolate
If you have read my post “How I Love Chocolate” then you know that giving up chocolate for 21 days is not an easy endeavor. While I don’t eat a lot of chocolate, I do enjoy my bite-size treats throughout the day.
After spending some time in prayer, I felt like this habit had become a comfort habit and was worthy of putting back in proper perspective. My sweet tooth was not going to be happy, but fasting requires some sacrifice.
For me the goal was two fold:
- Join with others in my faith community in the discipline of fasting and focusing on prayer for our marriages.
- Exercise the muscles of self-control and self-discipline.
While I am a very organized and generally disciplined person, there is always room for growth and improvement. Just like any other physical muscle, our spiritual muscles need exercise too. Fasting is one way to do just that.
I am not new to the concept of fasting. Partial fasts pertaining to food and also non-food indulgences are something I have done before. I would love to tell you that my chocolate fast caused weight loss, but it did not. On the positive side, this reflects that my little chocolate indulgence isn’t affecting my overall health in a negative way! WHEW!!!
As I moved beyond the cravings on about day 5, I did find it easier to stick to my commitment. I was much more proactive in my daily routine and even got some old “to-dos” moved to “to-done”!
The past three weeks have had an improved flow and I believe that is due to feeling a greater level of inner peace and quiet in my soul. My confidence increased as each week passed that I was not controlled by my flesh or emotions. This experience was freeing.
The discipline of fasting strengthens the mind’s ability to be disciplined and tell the flesh to step back. All too often I am led by my hunger, comfort or desire for convenience.
Breaking the emotional attachment to chocolate made way for me to be more conscious in my decisions about what I take in.
I believe food is meant to be fuel for the body. Certainly I enjoy good food, but I also know that I have the self-discipline to moderate my eating.
Challenging your comfort and your mind is good. I hope to never be so comfortable in my life that I am mentally weak.
I’ll finish with the words of Plato:
“The first and greatest victory is to conquer self.”