Historically, every religion and culture has participated in some kind of ritual Fast. A fast is an intentional restriction of food for a certain period of time. In many religions, the purpose of the fast is to practice detachment in a physical way that they may bring more awareness to the life of the spirit. Many are familiar with Lent, a type of Christian fast currently being observed, often where some type of food is restricted. Ramadan is the Islamic fast, which is performed for 29-30 days. In the Jewish faith, the primary fast day is Ta'anit (Day of Atonement) observed on Yom Kippur. In the Bahá’í Faith, we fast for 19 days, ending before Naw-Ruz (New Year occurring at the beginning of spring). Like Ramadan, Bahá’ís wake up to eat before sunrise and break the fast at sunset.
For more information on what Bahá’ís believe, see this link.
Though initially religious in nature, a recent health trend has been to perform intermittent fasts. You can read more about those here. These are great to do once a week to keep your metabolism, immunity, focus, and energy in check.
What is the Bahá'í fast?
Fasting is “essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires.”
The Baha'i Fast begins this year on March 1st. Read on for some tips to help you with your fast. These tips can also be applicable to other religious fasts as well.
We want to always remember the purpose of the fast and to avoid getting "hangry". It's okay to feel hungry during the Fast. You will and should feel hungry. This is the reason it's a practice of detachment, self-discipline, selflessness and patience. Hunger is a great reminder for us to center ourselves and recall the Word of God. However, we can utilize what we've learned about how food affects our body to maximize our body's ability to handle hunger.
How to prevent getting "Hangry"
To optimize energy metabolism I recommend going to sleep by 10 pm. It may seem early, but it will help prevent food cravings and your body will utilize energy better the next day.
For dinner, add 1/2 cup of starchy vegetables (like carrots, sweet potato, or squash) to your meals since a little more carbohydrate at night should help you sleep better.
Drinking bone broth is also very nourishing and supportive during the fast. This broth provides vitamins, minerals, and digestion-supporting collagen that will keep you well-nourished during a time of food restriction. The amino acid glycine will promote good quality sleep if sipped at night. I recommend drinking at least 1 cup in the morning and evening each. You can find my recipe here.
For more specific tips on how to nourish your body physically during the Baha'i Fast, sign up below to my email list and I will send you a PDF file of more of my fasting tips.