Fasting for Body, Mind, and Spirit Health

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Fasting has multiple benefits for body-mind-spirit health. The Lenten season from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday is often a time when many people decide to fast leading up to Easter. Whether you plan to fast during Lent or any time during the year, the benefits of fasting can affect every part of your being.

Types of Fasting

Total Fast

During a total fast you forego eating or drinking anything for an extended period of time. An example in scripture is the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness following His baptism (Matthew 4:1-11). This is the most extreme type of fast and is not recommended for those with medical conditions, eating disorders, or pregnant women. Even if you are healthy this type of fast should be done carefully and under the supervision of a doctor.

Liquid Fast

A liquid fast is similar to a total fast, but allows for water and other liquids to be consumed during the fast. This can be a good alternative to a total fast as you are still able to receive the nutrients you need in liquid form, yet also experience the benefits of a temporarily diminished relationship with food and meals.

Daniel Fast

Daniel fasting comes from Daniel 1:12 when Daniel and his friends requested to be served only water and vegetables instead of the rich foods the king served at  his table.

Partial Fast

During a partial fast you abstain from one or more types of food for an extended period of time. This is the most common type of fast you hear people talk about doing during lent i.e. giving up chocolate, soda, etc.

Intermittent Fast

This type of fasting is very popular in health and wellness circles right now. In an intermittent fast you restrict the hours that you are eating so that your consumption is limited in time but not necessarily quantity. The idea is that by engaging your digestive system for limited time periods you actually allow it to function better than by eating throughout the day.

Media Fast

A media fast does not involve food, but instead involves abstaining from social media, tv, or other sources of entertainment. During a media fast you may totally avoid media or limit it to specific hours of the day.

Benefits of Fasting

Fasting Benefits for Body

Depending on the type of fast, benefits for body health can include: decreased inflammation, better insulin absorption, weight loss, skin clearing, regulation of hormones, and a healthier relationship with food. Fasting should never be used primarily as a weight loss method. Before beginning any type of fast you should check with your doctor if you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition, or a history of disordered eating.

Fasting Benefits for Mind

Mental benefits of fasting can include: increased mental clarity, better sleep, decreased anxiety, elevated mood, and more stable emotions. Often fasting allows your body to reset and better regulate hormones resulting in overall increases in health for body and mind.

Fasting Benefits for Spirit

Fasting is mentioned throughout the Bible as a way to set one’s focus on God and grow in spiritual awareness. When Jesus talks about fasting He doesn’t say “if you fast” He says “when you fast”. So the assumption is that fasting is to be a normal rhythm of the Christian life. In Matthew 17:21 Jesus even tells the disciples that certain types of spiritual breakthrough can only come by prayer and fasting. The spiritual benefits of fasting are a deeper hunger for God, a closer connection to the Holy Spirit, and an enriched prayer life as we take the time we normally would for meals to pray instead. For more on fasting for spiritual benefits check out this book.

Fasting for Lent

What ever kind of fast you chose to try for Lent (or no fast at all!) Take this liturgical season to prepare your heart for Easter and set your gaze on Jesus. The free ebook below has a Bible reading guide that will help you feast on His presence as you fast.

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