"There's a little McDonalds in everyone"
Speaking at lectures on fasting and nutrition, I have had numerous people come up afterward and passionately state, oh no, you see I tried fasting years ago and it was awful. I will never do that again! They go on to describe headaches, shakes, and weakness, experienced after only a few hours of missing a meal. It was clear by looking at their well-rounded bodies they had made it a solemn duty to never go long between meals. Hunger meant pain. No amount of words could persuade them that their negative experience had nothing to do with starvation and everything to do with detoxifying years of unhealthy eating. Horror filled their faces when I accounted joyously going weeks without solid food. Weeks without food?
Our body has a brief opportunity to cleanse while we sleep, a mini-fast. With great patience, it waits until we start dozing off then finally in the sleep-state it can begin the miraculous work of cleansing. Breakfast is appropriately named, breaking the nightly fast with a morning meal. Upon awakening, the tongue is coated, breath foul, skin puffy and mind foggy. These are early symptoms of detoxification, short little holidays taken every night from a life of feasting. A breakfast of bacon, eggs, side order of pancakes and a cup of coffee is a sure way of halting detoxification—of course, you feel instantly better, attributing it to a greasy breakfast.
The negative experience in the first few days of a fast is detoxifying a lifetime of toxins stored up in fatty tissue, crammed into the body, meal after dirty meal. During a fast, countless toxins dramatically enter into the bloodstream at a rapid rate. This may be the body’s first chance to detoxify. Our unhealthy lifestyle does not lend itself to a friendly introduction of fasting’s true character.
Many people make the mistake of trying their very first fast on water, not preparing with a transition of eating fresh fruit and vegetables two weeks before the fast, easing detoxification. So they bail out after a day, left with an entrenched wrong impression that fasting is about bad breath, weakness and headaches, mistaking detoxification with fasting.
The truth of the matter is the North American diet never allows the body to cleanse itself. We eat all the time. The math is simple. When intake of calories is greater than burned, the results will be stored body fat. It is the same with toxins. When intake of toxins is greater than removed, the results will be toxic overload. If you are overweight this is a pretty good sign you are carrying around a storehouse of toxins, affecting normal cell functions. What happens if the toxic-load is greater than the internal-caretaker can remove? Sickness, weakened immune system and premature death, the plagues of our modern lifestyle.
If you could study your body cell, it would tell a story, a history of every substance you have eaten, breathed and come in contact with. Two thousand years ago people did not inhale air pollution, clean their homes with formaldehyde and ammonia or wear clothes saturated with chemical fabric softeners against their skin. They did not drink water laced with chlorine or eat foods containing a list of unpronounceable names like, sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate (I found this little gem in a loaf of “all natural bread” I bought). Not to mention the multitude of chemicals in shampoo, deodorant, mouthwash and toothpaste, all of which can be found in every cell of our 20th century bodies. Our environment has been dramatically altered and so has the human machine.
I have heard people proclaim Jesus’ 40 day fast must have been a miracle, an exercise in pain and self-martyrdom. This could not be further from the truth. They judge Jesus’ forty-day fast according to their few days’ experience of detoxifying. Due to a natural diet, Jesus body was clean and would not have undergone detoxification. I can say from personal experience, fasting with a clean body is nothing like the state of detoxification. The body enters into an extraordinary condition of peace and calm, a rare, quiet space where the inner life takes on vivid reality. Mind clears, yes, there is weakness, a pleasing relaxed island in a sea of tempestuous bustle.
I believe Jesus’ fast was the highlight of His earthly stay. Away from demanding crowds, alone with His Father whom He fiercely loved. Body stilled, spirit acutely strong. Many times Jesus slipped away to pray with His Father, avoiding the crowds, finding lonely places to pray (Luke 5:16).
Jesus knew how demanding life was about to become. Knew Satan’s temptations laid ahead, a controversial three-year ministry that would end beaten and alone on a Roman cross. These precious few days were deep times of prayer, intercession, communion, an intimacy with God we cannot understand. This was not Gethsemane, the Garden of Sorrows, but a solitary place of fellowship, casting aside the demands of flesh and bone and clamoring crowds, they would come soon enough. Jesus was an Eternal Spirit, unused to the limitations of being cloaked in mortal, hungry flesh. The forty day fast must have been a liberating taste of His heavenly state, body weakened, spirit strengthened. The temptations of Satan did not stand a chance. Jesus was fully prepared.
Related Article: The Detoxification Process