How to Break a Fast Safely

Although you may be tempted to eat everything in sight after coming off a fast, it's important to ease into normal eating gradually to avoid stomachaches, indigestion, diarrhea, and over-stressing vital organs like your heart, lungs, and liver.

Remember that while you were fasting, your stomach was essential asleep. If you were on a longer fast, your stomach also shrank. To “wake up” your digestive system, it's important to sit down when you eat to promote digestion, eat very small meals, and eat very slowly, chewing your food thoroughly.

Don't push yourself to return to your normal activity level or exercise regimen until you feel ready. If you feel tired, rest. Above all, listen to your body. If you experience flatulence, nausea, or diarrhea, it's probably a sign you need to consume smaller meals and slow down.

Phase 1

You can safely transition from a fast to normal eating by taking it in three easy phases. Phase 1 is the initial period after fasting, or roughly half the number of days you fasted. If you fasted for four days, Phase 1 would be the first two days after fasting. If you fasted for three days, Phase 1 would be the first day or so after fasting. During Phase 1, your main goal is to reawaken your digestion system without overloading it.

  • Consume only soft foods with a high water content, including light soups, leafy greens, and juices fortified with wheat germ, spirulina, chlorella, or ground-up almonds, sesame seeds, or sunflower seeds. You may also want to consume fruit smoothies made with bananas, apples, and flaxseed.

  • When you feel ready to move onto solid foods, start with juicy fruits such as watermelon, grapefruit, oranges, apples, pears, pineapples, cantaloupe, papaya, and mango.

  • If you feel okay consuming juicy fruits, try incorporating heavier fruits, such as peaches, apricots, tomatoes, green peppers, and cucumbers, into some meals.

  • If you crave a salad, make a salad of leafy green sprouts, such as buckwheat, turnip, cabbage, onion, radish, alfalfa, clover, and sunflower sprouts. Avoid bean sprouts in the early stages of breaking a fast; they are difficult to digest.

  • Try incorporating vegetable broths into some meals, including broths made with vegetables or potatoes. To stimulate circulation, add garlic, miso paste, and cayenne pepper to your broth.

  • If you feel okay consuming light broths, make broths that contain a larger amount of potatoes or rice.

Phase 2

During Phase 2, which lasts anywhere from a day after short fasts to five days after a ten-day fast, you can eat everything from Phase 1 and introduce leafy green vegetables as well as unsaturated fats, including olives, avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.

  • Begin with dry salads. If you feel okay, try adding homemade dressings made with olive oil and lemon, tofu, and avocado.

  • Enjoy small amounts of nuts and seeds on salads or ground up in salad dressings, juices, and smoothies.

  • Make thicker soups, gradually increasing the amount of vegetables, potatoes, and rice you can comfortably tolerate.

  • Don't eat any cooked vegetables (aside from those in soups), grains, beans, bread, dairy, and animal products.

Phase 3

During Phase 3, you gradually return to a normal diet. This phase lasts anywhere from a day after a short fast to five days after a longer, ten-day fast.

  • Begin by reintroducing rice, baked potatoes, and steamed vegetables.

  • If you feel okay, try adding cereals, grains, and bread.

  • Gradually reintroduce dairy and animal products. Listen to your body and back off if you experience digestive problems.

  • To avoid reversing the effects of your fast, avoid fried foods, high-fat cheeses, foods with added sugar, and foods with artificial flavorings and dyes — permanently, if possible.

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