Many...or perhaps most of the worlds religions observe a fast in one way or another. They vary in length of time...what the purpose of the fast is...and what is abstained from.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fast each month for two consecutive meals as a part of their worship. There are many reasons for this fast...power to do miracles...to increase faith...overcome weakness...special blessings...to mourn...to show gratitude...to see to the needs of the poor...increase ones humility...etc...
Other than for religious reasons some fast because they believe it is good for your health. The obvious health benefits that come from losing unhealthy weight is one...but people also do it to cleanse their bodies of toxins, hasten healing, and to increase one's life expectancy. Despite various alluring health benefits...fasting should be done with care...as there are circumstances where it could be detrimental to ones health or not adviseable. Pregnant women...people on certain medications...those with certain sicknesses...etc... all should refrain from fasting.
When one fasts...they really get to see how internally strong they are. Mentally...spiritually...physically...an inner war takes place. One finds out if they have the internal constitution to control their thoughts...and their appetites. They find out who the real boss is!!
While I do fast every month...and have for a couple of decades...my body still struggles to make it through the forgone two meals without a fight. Physically I become weak...sometimes lightheaded and dizzy...it can become hard to concentrate...and I usually get a good headache. I find that I become highly sensitive to smells of food and that most anything sounds good to eat! It becomes necessary for me to steer completely clear of the kitchen...perchance in a moment of having my brain off and my body on autopilot...I put something into my mouth without thinking...and prematurely end my fast. My stomach turns and cries out to my brain to ease the hunger! Much like the drug addict going through withdrawals...my mind can become consumed with the desire to eat. AND THIS IS ONLY AFTER MISSING TWO MEALS! Such an experience truly lends credence to the claim that food is a drug that one can be "addicted" to.
That is what is happening to me biologically...if I choose to listen. If I work to turn off the voice of the natural man...and really actively seek for the things of a better world...I can find reprieve. If I allow that voice to yell uncontrolled in my ears...it is torture. While I have found great spiritual blessings from fasting...I have learned something very valuable about myself as well. I have learned how dependent on regular large meals I am...and how quickly my flesh becomes weak when I go without.
While by end of my fast I might feel like I had better eat...or starve to death...the truth is that I am really FAR from starving.
In survival training...the "Rule of Three" is often discussed. It states that as a general rule...
- Humans cannot survive more than three hours exposed to extreme low-temperature.
- Humans cannot survive more than three minutes without air.
- Humans cannot survive more than three days without water.
- Humans cannot survive more than three weeks without food.
Recently I have read two different preparedness authors who recommended fasting as a part of a sound preparedness plan. As a way of preparing for a day when you may either have to go completely without food for a time...or severely limit how much food you are eating.
If for a multitude of circumstances...war...plague...riots...etc...you end up stuck in your house for an indefinite amount of time. Uncertain of when...or even if you will be able to replenish the supplies you have... Do you think that you will be eating just like you do now? Or do you think that you will be savoring each morsel of food...wasting nothing...and eating only what you have to to survive. More than likely it would be the latter.
It seems an indisputable fact that most Americans eat plenty more than they need to. We have been conditioned to the consumption of huge portions of food at restaurants...that many force themselves to eat because it tastes soooo good...and so they don't have to bring home leftovers. We have social gatherings where Mom's encourage second helpings...even thirds...and don't forget the dessert!! As a people we are much like the goldfish that doesn't know when to stop...or just doesn't care to.
As Ezra Taft Benson said...
Recently I gave a training on food storage and afterwards a gentleman who looked well fed came up to me and said holding his stomach "I've got all the food storage I need right here!!!" then he chuckled and said "When there is a famine us fat folks are going to survive while you skinny people aren't going to make it because you have no fat to burn."
Strangely enough there is actually truth to what he said...and it can be scientifically backed up! Like a bear storing fat for hibernation...so it is...in a way...with us.
While having some extra fat may potentially be a good thing to have during a famine...it surely isn't a good game plan to purposefully be fat for famines! The church has long counseled us to work at being more physically fit. While "Fit" is more than "Not Fat"...it does have a baring on ones health. They have also counseled us to store food and know how to produce food...not just plan on living on fat stores!
“There are rugged times ahead. It is time for every man who wishes to do his duty to get himself prepared-physically, spiritually and psychologically-for the task which may come at any time, as suddenly as the whirlwind."
In preparation for potential times of scarcity...and for the other benefits mentioned...it seems a worthwhile pursuit to learn to live on less food. Heaven knows you will save money doing it! I think this can be accomplished by purposefully eating less food...and a regiment of fasting. This will allow for us to go through the pains...the physical and psychological pains...that will get us ready for days of scarcity. We will gain the control and the mental toughness in advance that will free us up to more efficiently deal with the other challenges at hand that are associated with "rugged times".