Preparing For a Fast: Practical Aspects (Z.T. Fomum)
It is possible to start a short fast without much practical preparation. However, a long fast needs practical preparation.
It has been suggested that a fast of seven days needs seven days of preparation and a fast of forty days needs forty days of preparation. The success of a fast could depend heavily on how much time was put into preparing for it. We shall consider some things that need to be considered in the preparation of a fast.
1. CALCIUM INTAKE
It is advisable to increase your calcium intake as you prepare for the fast. This can be done by taking calcium tablets or by eating foods that are rich in calcium. Some people drink a lot of milk, while others eat eggshells. If you want calcium from eggshells, it can be obtained as follows: Wash eggshells and dry them. Grind them to powder and add the powder to your food. It is best to add one teaspoon at a time. If calcium tablets from a drug store are used, the directions on the jar should be followed.
The intake of calcium is important. One of my intended long fasts was stopped on the fourteenth day because of pain in my teeth. In the subsequent fasts when calcium was taken before the fast, I had no problem with my teeth during the six weeks of the fast.
If you have some deficiency, you should make it up before the fast. If you are, for example, anaemic, you should ensure that your body is in a normal condition before you begin the fast.
2. GENERAL HEALTH
If you are normally in good health, you should just eat normally as you prepare for the fast. If, on the other hand, you are in poor health, you should normally seek healing before you start the fast. Patients suffering from diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and the like should normally clear it with their doctor before they embark on a fast. In some rare cases, believers may have liberty to fast contrary to the counsel of their doctors.
People who are greatly underweight may want to put on some weight before the fast. Similarly, people who are overweight should try to lose some weight before the fast begins.
3. EATING HABITS BEFORE THE FAST
If you are a heavy eater, you should start to cut down the quantity of food that you normally eat as you prepare for the fast. Many people find that it is better to cut down carbohydrates as one prepares for a fast. I know some people who eat only vegetables for many days before the fast. However, you should feel free to develop your own pre fasting habits. You may not want to start the fast before the fast actually begins.
I strongly recommend that persons who are going on a fast for twenty-one days or longer should eat only vegetables and fruits during the three days preceding the fast. If that is done, there will be light diarrhoea that will clear the stomach before the fast actually begins.
It is very uncomfortable to be constipated at the beginning of a fast. It could lead to the fast being stopped prematurely. It is best to clear the bowels completely the day before the fast begins. I did not do that before one of my long fasts. I paid for this by feeling like emptying my bowels and yet not doing so for many weeks. It was uncomfortable. Another problem that may arise if the bowels are not cleared before the fast is that the waste matter that remains in them for days and perhaps weeks during the fast may poison the body system.
I find it profitable to exercise the body regularly before the fast. This is especially profitable for people who normally exercise their bodies. If a long fast is in view, it can be considered that the body is going to be deprived of exercise for that length of time. Would it not be better for the exercise to be done in advance?
5. A PLACE TO WITHDRAW TO
If you plan to withdraw during the fast, you should decide where you are going to withdraw to and make the appropriate preparations. If you plan to go to a retreat centre, make sure you reserve a room long before the day you intend to go there. If you plan to stay with a friend or a family member, do not take it for granted that there will be room for you. You should ask them way ahead of time so that things will be ready for you when the time comes.