5 Ideas for a Healthy Baha’i Fast

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We all know that the Baha’i Fast is a very spiritual time. If you didn’t know that, stay calm; there’s time to read up. Abstaining from physical food serves as a reminder for us to abstain from selfish appetites, and ultimately a prayerful fast is what we all strive to achieve.

But the Fast can also pose some practical questions. Are my health concerns a reason to abstain from fasting? What about if I work the night shift? How can I physically prepare for fasting?

Some of these questions are a matter of personal conscience. Since everyone’s circumstances are different, it’s probably best to reach out to a Baha’i institution or medical professional to resolve serious questions.

But for general tips to physically prepare for the Fast, we spoke to Dr. David Letzer from Wisconsin, USA. Check out these five things you can do for healthy fasting.

Photo courtesy of Amelia Tyson

1. Breakfast is important. Opt for one that’s high in protein or complex carbohydrates. “You should avoid foods considered ‘high glycemic’ that quickly raise sugar levels and quickly drop,” says Letzer. Ahem, we’re looking at you, Cocoa Puffs. He adds, “In addition to eating the right kinds of foods, it’s important to hydrate with water prior to the fasting period.”

Photo courtesy of Amelia Tyson

2. Love a cup of coffee (or two) each morning? Letzer says caffeine could be problematic during the Fast. That’s because “it acts as a diuretic and can promote the loss of essential water.” And remember how we just mentioned the importance of hydration? In addition, some folks go through caffeine withdrawal, which can cause headaches. “Ideally it is best to reduce caffeine consumption about a week before the Fast begins,” he says.

3. If you exercise, Letzer personally thinks it’s best to do so before breaking your fast at the end of the day.

4. Don’t skimp on sleep. Pretty simple, right?

Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah5. Letzer notes that the best way to approach fasting is in an attitude of prayerfulness, but it’s not a bad idea to consider “eating small amounts and chewing slowly to promote digestion.” And of course, drink fluids.

If you’re seeking further food for thought on the Fast, you don’t have to take our word for it! Check out books like Happy Fasting or The Supreme Remedy for more ideas.

What do you do to prepare for the Fast?

Caitlin is the Writing Editor at Nineteen Months, and makes her way in the world as a web editor and social media specialist. She has contributed to projects for Baha’i Publishing Trust, and her work has been published literary magazines like Chiron Review, The Journal of Baha’i Studies, and others. She is the founding editor of Vahid, a NM literary magazine currently seeking submissions. She lives in New York with her husband, and a cat whose namesake is a Chevy sedan.

3 Comments

  1. RyanH

    26 February, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    I eat very protein-heavy breakfasts during the fast–peanut butter, cheeses, yogurt. I also throw in some dates or apples for variety and energy, but otherwise try to avoid avoid fruits and breads. Keeps me satiated most of the day, and also I don’t get lethargic or suffer sugar crashes.

    I can’t do without my morning coffee, though.

  2. Martha

    28 February, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Everyone said I was crazy for continuing to exercise while fasting, glad to hear that it’s actually better to exercise before breaking the fast than afterwards. Thanks for the tips, happy fasting!!

  3. Ruben

    1 March, 2014 at 9:47 am

    To reduce caffeine about a week before? =/ I think I’m late…
    I stop having coffee for those 19 days a year anyway… It’s not what I feel like that early in the morning, nor what you’d like to have right after breaking the fast in the evening!
    Thanks for the suggestions!