Fasting with Diabetes
The practice of fasting has been around for centuries and the reasons to do it are very personal. Some people do it for religious reasons, others do it for their health.
Historically, doctors have recommended fasting to help improve health. Remember, the saying "feed a cold, and starve a fever?"
Today’s trend calls fasting "detoxing" to rid the body of unhealthy toxins by cleansing three vital organs: the liver, kidneys and colon. But, the truth is, the function of these organs is to detox the body. So are we really detoxing the body when we drink all those green liquids or engage in such things as cayenne lemon water fasts?
Last year, a research report supported intermittent fasting (IF) –in which you alternate between periods of fasting and non-fasting--to help reduce disease and inflammation, and lower blood pressure and improve glucose control in people with diabetes. I do believe in intermittent fasting. I like the challenge and sometimes I’m simply not hungry, so skipping a meal doesn’t bother me, as long as I’ve calculated my insulin needs far enough in advance.
A few years back I wrote about fasting for eight days. It was an interesting lesson in self-discipline and intensely enlightening when it came to how much TV can try to seduce your mind regarding food!
Here’s some of what I wrote:
The quest to fast really became an experiment in minimalism in ways I never expected. It cut down on what was routine and made me think outside the box. My husband and I stopped watching TV and began to have more time for reading, took more walks with our dogs and our house was clean and more organized because we spent the time to care for it.
At the end of eight days I felt caught up on my personal organization. I felt better connected to my husband and I was centered and balanced in my life. But from a food perspective, not much changed. I had always been a healthy eater so my body didn’t go through the withdrawal problems that my husband experienced. I actually felt more emotionally challenged as the fast became mind over matter. I had the additional challenge of watching my blood sugar, which required some adjusting of my insulin intake. I followed more of a sick day protocol, meaning less was more.
The hardest part of the fast was reducing my normal exercise regimen. When fasting, I couldn’t run for a couple of reasons. My blood sugar fell too fast and too low and by day three, I didn’t have enough calories to convert to energy to sustain a full day at my office and teaching yoga, let alone do a three to five-mile-run. So I had to simplify. I switched my running to meditation. The eight-day fast became a lesson of letting go and caring for myself on so many levels!
Intermittent fasting doesn’t require as much effort as an extended fast and there is value in better health. As someone living with diabetes, I’ll raise my glass of water to that.