The best way to understand what happens when we fast is to break up the process into six stages: preparation for the fast, loss of hunger, acidosis, normalization, healing, and breaking the fast.

A person that has consumed the typical American diet most of their life and whose life is not in immediate danger would be very wise to gently prepare their body for the fast. Two weeks would be a minimum amount of time, and if the prospective faster wants an easier time of it, they should allow a month or even two for preliminary housecleaning During this time, eliminate all meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, coffee, black tea, salt, sugar, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, and greasy foods. This de-addiction will make the process of fasting much more pleasant, and is strongly recommended. However, eliminating all these harmful substances is withdrawal from addictive substances and will not be easy for most. I have more to say about this later when I talk about allergies and addictions.

The second stage, psychological hunger, usually is felt as an intense desire for food. This passes within three or four days of not eating anything. Psychological hunger usually begins with the first missed meal. If the faster seems to be losing their resolve, I have them drink unlimited quantities of good-tasting herb teas, (sweetened --only if absolutely necessary--with nutrisweet). Salt-free broths made from meatless instant powder (obtainable at the health food store) can also fend off the desire to eat until the stage of hunger has passed.

Acidosis, the third stage, usually begins a couple of days after the last meal and lasts about one week. During acidosis the body vigorously throws off acid waste products. Most people starting a fast begin with an overly acid blood pH from the typical American diet that contains a predominance of acid-forming foods. Switching over to burning fat for fuel triggers the release of even more acidic substances. Acidosis is usually accompanied by fatigue, blurred vision, and possibly dizziness. The breath smells very bad, the tongue is coated with bad-tasting dryish mucus, and the urine may be concentrated and foul unless a good deal of water is taken daily. Two to three quarts a day is a reasonable amount.

Mild states of acidosis are a common occurrence. While sleeping after the last meal of the day is digested bodies normally work very hard trying to detoxify from yesterday"s abuses. So people routinely awaken in a state of acidosis. Their tongue is coated, their breath foul and they feel poorly. They end their brief overnight fast with breakfast, bringing the detoxification process to a screeching halt and feel much better. Many people think they awaken hungry and don"t feel well until they eat. They confuse acidosis with hunger when most have never experienced real hunger in their entire lives. If you typically awaken in acidosis, you are being given a strong sign by your body that it would like to continue fasting far beyond breakfast. In fact, it probably would enjoy fasting long beyond the end of acidosis.

Most fasters feel much more comfortable by the end of the first seven to ten days, when they enter the normalization phase; here the acidic blood chemistry is gradually corrected. This sets the stage for serious healing of body tissues and organs. Normalization may take one or two more weeks depending on how badly the body was out of balance. As the blood chemistry steadily approaches perfection, the faster usually feels an increasing sense of well-being, broken by short spells of discomfort that are usually healing crises or retracings.

The next stage, accelerated healing, can take one or many weeks more, again depending on how badly the body has been damaged. Healing proceeds rapidly after the blood chemistry has been stabilized, the person is usually in a state of profound rest and the maximum amount of vital force can be directed toward repair and regeneration of tissues. This is a miraculous time when tumors are metabolized as food for the body, when arthritic deposits dissolve, when scar tissues tend to disappear, when damaged organs regain lost function (if they can). Seriously ill people who never fast long enough to get into this stage (usually it takes about ten days to two weeks of water fasting to seriously begin healing) never find out what fasting can really do for them.

Breaking the fast is equally or more important a stage than the fast itself. It is the most dangerous time in the entire fast. If you stop fasting prematurely, that is, before the body has completed detoxification and healing, expect the body to reject food when you try to make it eat, even if you introduce foods very gradually. The faster, the spiritual being running the body, may have become bored and want some action, but the faster"s body hasn"t finished. The body wants to continue healing.

By rejection, I mean that food may not digest, may feel like a stone in your stomach, make you feel terrible. If that happens and if, despite that clear signal you refuse to return to fasting, you should go on a juice diet, take as little as possible, sip it slowly (almost chew it) and stay on juice until you find yourself digesting it easily. Then and only then, reintroduce a little solid raw food like a green salad.

Weaning yourself back on to food should last just as long as the fast. Your first tentative meals should be dilute, raw juices. After several days of slowly building up to solid raw fruit, small amounts of raw vegetable foods should be added. If it has been a long fast, say over three weeks, this reintroduction should be done gingerly over a few weeks. If this stage is poorly managed or ignored you may become acutely ill, and for someone who started fasting while dangerously ill, loss of self control and impulsive eating could prove fatal. Even for those fasting to cure non-life-threatening illnesses it is pointless to go through the effort and discipline of a long fast without carefully establishing a correct diet after the fast ends, or the effort will have largely been wasted.

Foods For Monodiet, Juice or Broth Fastin:

zucchini, garlic, onion, green beans, kale, celery, beet greens and root, cabbage, carrot, wheat grass juice, alfalfa juice, barley green juice, parsley juice, lemon/lime juice, grapefruit juice, apples (not juice, too sweet), diluted orange juice, diluted grape juice