Breaking the Fast

By Dr. Herbert S. Shelton
from Fasting Can Save Your Life

It is possible to break a fast with any food available. Either whole fruits or whole vegetables may be used. In order not to overconsume food, we have found it advisable to weigh the food for the first few days.

Dr. Virginia Vetrano, who has been my able associate for a number of years, has been breaking fasts on whole foods for several years and finds that in most cases it is far superior to breaking the fast on juices, as was formerly advised. She reasoned that animals in the wild have no juicers or blenders and therefore have to break their fasts naturally on whole foods. Why should man be an exception?

Using her knowledge of physiology, she further reasoned that the bulk in the food is necessary to promote both peristalsis and mixing contractions in the stomach and intestines. Bulk is also necessary to promote secretion of the digestive juices of the stomach and intestines. The bulk of the food touching the stomach and intestinal walls is the stimulus for muscular contraction as well as for proper digestive secretions. Because of this, solid food is digested and handled more efficiently than juices. It is held in the stomach and intestines long enough for proper digestion and absorption, whereas juices, lacking this bulk, are hurried along the digestive tract. Lacking in bulk, juices do not occasion strong peristaltic waves and do not elicit the gastrocolic reflex as strongly as slid foods. Because of these facts, when the fast is broken on juices the first bowel movement after a fast is delayed. When solid foods are used to break the fast, bowel movements are re-established much earlier.

The Importance of Chewing

Chewing of food is necessary both psychologically and physiologically. Another advantage of breaking the fast with solid is that the faster does not become bloated and over-filled with fluids. Taking the bulk with the food prevents overeating and the post faster is more satisfied with his meals. When fruit or vegetable juicers are used, there is a loss of vitamins and nutriments by oxidation no matter how carefully nor now quickly the juice is prepared. Some fasters are afraid to drink the juice rapidly and one sip every fifteen minutes. By the time they have taken four ounces of juice in this manner, almost two hours have passed with the juice oxidizing all the while. Breaking the fast with four ounces of whole orange, a section at a time may be eaten with a minimum of oxidation.

The fast may be broken at any time of the day or night that hunger recurs. If broken in advance of the return of hunger, it may be broken arbitrarily at 8:00 a.m. A number of techniques for breaking the fast have been worked out. Indeed, almost every many who conducts fasts has his own favorite plan. The main need is wholesome food; but not too much of it.

Dr. Crane… used to give a faster an orange to eat in breaking the fast. The well-known Henry Lindlahr, MD, now deceased, formerly of Chicago and Elmhurst, Illinois, who was director of the College of Natural Therapeutics in Chicago, broke fasts with a handful of popcorn. His reason for this was that the corn served as a broom to sweep out the digestive tract. I any case, the popcorn did no harm.

Bed Rest is Important

Bed rest should be continued through the first week or eating and activity begun very gradually. It is common for the faster to want to become active as soon as he resumes eating. This is unwise. He is not so strong and he does not have the endurance he thinks he has. Also, activity retards his gain in weight if he has fasted to add weight.

Some fasters want to take long walks as soon as eating is resumed. Such activity is often over indulged to the extent that it often retards recuperation and causes the individual’s weight to stand still. One must take it easy for a few days before resuming normal activities.

If the fast has been less than two weeks in duration, breaking it maybe done with eight ounces of whole fruit every two hours the first day, then the preceding program followed from there. Less caution is required in breaking a short fast of this kind, and activity may e resumed sooner after a short fast.

All of this is true, of course, in those individuals who are in a fair state of health. If there is need for added rest and for light eating for some time after breaking a short fast, the faster must be guided by judgment of the adviser.

But the most important advice, for all fasters at the breakfast point is this: Go Slowly!

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