What is fasting? My yearly detox at Buchinger in Uberlingen

Once a year I take off from my life for at least ten days and go to a clinic in Germany for fasting called Buchinger.

Now let's be clear fasting is not eating fast food :) Fasting is refraining from eating solid food for a period of time. I started fasting nine years ago in order to lose weight; my first fast was for 22 days. Over the years my reason has changed. It is nice to lose weight, of course, but after ten days of fasting I feel rejuvenated! Fasting helps clean your body of all the toxins so you can start fresh. For years fasting has been considered a negative thing, but recent studies have shown that fasting improves your immune system and has a lot of health benefits such as lower blood pressure and reduced cholesterol. At the clinic Buchinger, you can either do a low-calorie diet or fast… I prefer fasting.

When you begin a fast your first day is what’s called a rest day. During that day, you choose one staple ingredient for the day, fruits, vegetables, rice or potatoes. If you choose to have a rest day of fruits or vegetables that’s it for your 3 meals. You can also choose a rice or potato day where you eat them with smaller servings of vegetables or fruits. For example, for a "rice day" you get 150g (5 Oz) of uncooked rice with 200g (1 cup) of vegetables or fruits to divide amongst your three meals. No salt or oil is allowed while cooking or eating them.

The second day they give you Glauber salt (sodium sulfate decahydrate) in the morning, which empties your body. It is always better to start your fast on an emptied stomach. For lunch, they bring soup, which is basically a broth, to your room. At 2 pm you have tea with a little bit of honey or yogurt if you prefer. Finally, you finish your second day with a bowl of soup.

From day three on your food (if I can call it that) is the same. Every day, you start with tea and have to choose between a juice pitcher and a bowl of soup for lunch. At 2 pm they bring more tea with honey or yogurt. And all your dinners are composed of a bowl of soup.

My lunch juice

My lunch juice

My dinner soup (or broth to be honest)

My dinner soup (or broth to be honest)

I am sure you wonder how we survive the pangs of hunger when we fast. Believe it or not it is easier than doing a diet. When your body sees that there is no food coming, it adapts. For the newcomers, the first three days are the hardest ones, but on day four the bliss starts. You feel high, have a lot of energy and your creativity increases. People think that when you fast you spend your day in bed, waiting for the time to pass. You can rest whenever you want, but the clinic offers walks, gym classes, painting classes, cooking classes, and lectures. It has a heated pool, and you can even book massages.

Whatever happens, I always find at least ten days in my year to go to Buchinger and fast. Throughout the years I have brought a lot of people with me to share the experience, and they got addicted as well. I always love to observe new arrivals; the first days they look unhappy and not smiling, but a few days later there is light in their face. I know you can fast at home, but we all deserve taking care of ourselves and who doesn't want to spend ten days where it is all about you.

My mother always makes fun of me, because when I am about to arrive at the clinic I start getting excited like a little kid on her way to summer camp.

If your time or your budget doesn't let you go to a clinic like Buchinger and you want to experience fasting, why don't you begin with “intermittent fasting” once a week? Don’t eat solid food for 12 to 16 hours—basically you skip a main meal or two. If that sounds too hard to start out, you could try the rest day concept and live on only fruits, vegetables, rice or potatoes for 24 hours. You will see how much better you feel afterwards. I know that if you are stuck on your balance with your weight and want to break the plateau, a rest day or a fast day will help you a lot.

Every time I fast, the experience is fantastic. Please, don't think the solution to your struggles is to eat like crazy and then starve to make it all right. Fasting is not a starvation camp. You can lose a lot of weight, but most of it is water and if you return to eating badly again you will gain everything back and then some.

Take fasting as a philosophy, a way to do a spring cleaning of your body.



Nathalie Botros