This section of the book is from the "How and When to Be Your Own Doctor" book, by Dr. Isabelle A. Moser with Steve Solomon, published in 1997.
Numerous attitudes make it difficult to fast or to provide moral support to friends or loved ones that are fasting. Many people harbor fears of losing weight because they think that if times were really tough, if there was a famine or they became ill and lost a lot of weight they would have no reserves and would certainly perish. These people have no idea how much fat can be concealed on an even skinny body, nor of how slowly a skinny body loses weight while fasting. Substantial fat reserves are helpful as heat-retaining insulation in those rare accidents when someone is dropped into a cold ocean and must survive until the rescue boat arrives. Being fat might keep a person alive longer who is lost in the wilderness awaiting rescue with no supplies, no means of procuring food, and no means of keeping warm. On the other hand, fat people would have a far harder time walking out of the wilderness. And extensive fat deposits are merely fuel and do not contain extensive nutritional reserves. An obese person fasting without significant nutritional supplementation would begin starving long before they became really skinny. On the balance, carrying excess weight is a far greater liability than any potential prosurvival aspects it might have.
There are other attitudes associated with weight loss that make it difficult for people to fast. People hold rather stereotypical notions about what constitutes an attractive person; usually it involves having some meat on ones bones. Hollywood and Hugh Hefner have both influenced the masses to think that women should have hourglass figures with large, upthrust, firm breasts. Since breasts are almost all useless fatty tissue supporting some milk-producing glands that do not give a breast much volume except when engorged, most women fasters loose a good percentage of their breast mass. If the fast is extensive, there should also develop an impressive showing of ribs and hip bones; these are not soft and cuddly. Husbands, lovers, parents, and friends frequently point out that you don"t look good this way and exhort you to put on weight. Most people think pleasantly plump is healthy.
Skinny men, especially those who had lost a lot of weight during an illness, are pressured by associates to put on weight to prove that they are healthy. I had a client who was formerly a college varsity football player. Before his illness he had lifted weights and looked like a hunk. His family and friends liked to see him that way and justifiably so. Then he got seriously ill. On a long extended healing diet he lost a significant amount of weight and seemed down right skinny, causing all who knew him well and cared about him to tempt him with all kinds of scrumptious delicacies from the best of kitchens. But this case was like Luigi Cornaro, a man who never again could look like a hunk. His "friends" made an absolutely necessary change in life style and appearance far more difficult than it was already. My client was torn between a desire to please others, and a desire to regain and retain his health. This problem a sick person doesn"t need.
If you have the independence to consider following an alternative medical program in a culture that highly values conformity and agreement, you are also going to have to defend your own course of self-determined action based on the best available data that you have. But fasters are usually in fragile emotional condition, so I advise my clients who are subjected to this kind of pressure to beg their friends and associates to refrain from saying anything if they can"t support the course of action you have chosen. After this, if friends or relatives are still incapable of saying nothing (even non-verbally), it is important to exclude them from your life until you have accomplished your health goals, have regained some weight and have returned to eating a maintenance diet, rather than getting skinnier on a healing one.
The very worst aspect of our culture"s eating programming is that people have been wrongfully taught that when ill they must eat to keep up their strength. Inherent in this recommendation is an unstated belief that when the body is weakened by a disease state, the weakness can somehow be overcome with food, and that the body needs this food to kill the virus, bacteria, or invading yeast, and uses the protein to heal or rebuild tissue. Sadly, the exact opposite is the case. Disease organisms feed and multiply on the toxic waste products of misdigestion, and the body is unable to digest well when it is weak or ill.
There"s an old saying about this: 'feed a cold, starve a fever." Most people think this saying means you should eat when you have a cold. What the saying really means is if you feed a cold then you will soon have to starve a fever. Protein foods especially are not digested by a diseased body, and as mentioned before, the waste products of protein indigestion are especially poisonous. That is all the body needs when it is already down, another load of poison which it can"t eliminate due to weakness and enervation.
Weight loss is usually associated with illness, as it should be! In times of acute illness an otherwise healthy body loses its appetite for food because it is prosurvival to stop eating. It is very hard to coax a sick animal to eat. Their bodies, not controlled by a mind full of complex learned responses and false ideas, automatically know that fasting is nature"s method of healing. Contrary to popular understanding, digestion, assimilation, and elimination require the expenditure of considerable energy. This fact may contradict the reader"s experience because everyone has become tired when they have worked a long time without eating, and then experienced the lift after eating. But an ill body cannot digest efficiently so instead of providing energy extracted from foods, the body is further burdened by yet another load of toxic material produced by fermented and putrefied food. This adds insult to injury in a sick body that is already drowning in its own garbage.
Worse, during illness most available vital force is already redirected into healing; it is not available for digestion. It is important to allow a sick body to proceed with healing and not to obstruct the process with unnecessary digestion or suppress the symptoms (which actually are the healing efforts) with drugs. If you have an acute illness, and you stop all food intake except for pure water and herb teas, and perhaps some vegetable broth, or dilute non-sweet juice, you have relieved your body of an immense effort. Instead of digesting, the body goes to work on catching up on healing. The body can and will almost inevitably heal itself if the sick person will have faith in it, cooperate with the body"s efforts by allowing the symptoms of healing to exist, reduce or eliminate the intake of food to allow the body to marshal its energies, maintain a positive mental attitude and otherwise stay out of the way.
Many people intensely dread missing even one meal. These folks usually are and have been so toxic that their bodies had been stashing uneliminated toxins in their fat for years. They are usually so addicted to caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, and so forth, that when they had fasted, even briefly, their bodies were forced to dip into highly-polluted fat reserves while simultaneously the body begins withdrawal. People like this who try to fast experience highly unpleasant symptoms including headache, irritability, inability to think or concentrate, blurred vision, profound fatigue, aches, etc. Most of these symptoms come from low blood sugar, but combined with the toxins being released from fat and combined with going through multiple addictive withdrawals, the discomforts are more than most people are willing to tolerate. Fasting on juice is much more realistic for cases like this. It is little wonder that when a hygienist suggests a fast to improve health, this type of case asserts positively that fasting is quite impossible, they have tried it, it is absolutely terrible and know that they can"t do it.
This rejection is partly due to a cultural expectation (one reinforced by western medicine) that all unpleasant symptoms should be avoided or suppressed. To voluntarily experience unpleasant sensations such as those mentioned above is more than the ordinary timid person will subject themselves to, even in order to regain health. They will allow surgery, drugs with violent and dangerous side effects, painful and invasive testing procedures and radiation--all unpleasant and sometimes extremely uncomfortable. These therapies are accepted because someone else with authority is doing it to them. And, they have been told that it they don"t submit they will not ever feel better and probably will die in the near future. Also people think that they have no alternative, that the expert in front of them knows what is best, so they feel relieved to have been relieved of the responsibility for their own condition and its treatment.