Updated: Jun 30, 2018
"Water fasting" has taken the world by storm! Customers at my restaurant in the small southern town of Springfield, Tennessee are talking about it and that has my attention. When I first heard about water fasting, I started asking questions, but everyone just told me how great it is for your body! Upon further research, I found that a water fast involves a human consuming nothing but water for an indeterminate amount of time. Some fast for 5 days, others for 30 days. My first thought was that human beings can die from not consuming food over an extended period of time. Now, this is a trendy diet?
Water fasting is the blatant perpetuation of anorexia. It is not healthy to starve yourself and only drink water. People who follow this trend report a burst of energy after the third day. That's because when you hit the fourth day, your body goes into autophagy and starts eating away at your muscle mass for energy. This is great for someone who is starving in the desert because it takes longer for you to die. However, for a basic white girl trying to get healthy by starving, this means that your body is eating itself to provide sustenance for you. When your body thinks it's starving, you also burn calories slower and produce hair all over your body to try to insulate you. This is your body's way of telling you to eat!!! Not to mention, anorexia is a mental illness- One that kills more people annually than any other mental illness. We are now encouraging people for "health benefits" to try starving themselves for a month?! Excuse my French, but are you out of your fucking mind?!?!?!?!?
To further these ideas, we have trendy bloggers like The Balanced Blonde. If you are not familiar with her, the Balanced Blonde is a blonde chick in California who was vegan for two years, posting cute pics of smoothie bowls and her being flexible. Then she realized that she had an eating disorder (orthorexia, one that has taken the world by storm, thanks to careless bloggers like her), so she started eating meat and wrote a book about it. And then she got psoriasis and eczema, so she decided to not only go back to being vegan, but to launch her healthy new life style with a water fast! If this isn't reckless, then I don't know what is. We're talking about someone with over 100,000 followers, many who have suffered from the same eating disorder, watching her spiral out of control while they support her because she is their role model.
"Reckless" is me being kind. She justifies her water fast by saying "I am water fasting for pure, true, real, HEALING." That's exactly the kind of language that made orthorexia a very real, very dangerous eating disorder. Words like, "cleansing," "healing," and "whole foods" are what people suffering from the eating disorder use to justify their methods because they sound healthy and socially acceptable. The problem is that they use this language to trick themselves and others into thinking that they are healthy, but their methods are being done in such an extreme fashion that's it's actually dangerous. You could walk into a Whole Foods and have a panic attack because you are surrounded by foods with salt, soy, gluten, etc. and you are trying to eat "clean." It's vicious. The second that you take on the role of a public figure, you have to think of the repercussions of your actions. The Balanced Blonde is undoubtedly sending thousands of her devoted followers back into their own deadly habits by telling them that water fasting is a positive new trend that they should try. (She adds a disclaimer, but that's not how eating disorders work.) After spending 5 minutes on her blog, I saw that she is still pushing outdated trends even though they are proven to have harmful effects on your body, not least of which is the trend of colonics, which are at best, a complete waste of time and money, and in the worst cases cause death. Why would someone so influential be pushing such ridiculous methods? No one can say for sure but her. She writes, "The idea of a water fast could be triggering to those in recovery from eating disorders, and I always want to be extremely sensitive to my readers," but she is in recovery from an eating disorder! It's like she doesn't even realize that she's falling into her old ways, and I didn't become a fan of hers until she quit being vegan, and I am vegan! I want nothing more than for her to succeed, but not when the cost is other people's lives. I think that she is at best on a slippery slope towards orthorexia, if not already succumbing to it. Eating disorders can be treated, but they never go away.
Long-term water fasting is pure starvation by choice, i.e., anorexia nervosa. Let's call a spade a spade here, people. Any health articles that you read about the benefits of fasting are not talking about fasting for extended periods of time, and the ones that are, contain disclaimers that the research is not conclusive (which means that they haven't studied it long enough to know the effects). I keep seeing bloggers quote "scientific articles" about how fasting is so positive for some animals, so it should be good for humans. That's not how it works. That's not how any of this works!!! Bears hibernate for months without food, or moving, because they're in a coma. Turtles suffocate when they're upside down. Cows have two stomachs. Some animals even live their whole lives underwater. Just because an animal does it, does not in any way, shape, or form mean that a human is qualified or meant to do the same thing. I hate to quote my mom here, (I'm paraphrasing) but if a bird jumped off a bridge, would you? If you said yes, you could at least enjoy the feathered beast stretching out its wings to soar before your skull cracked on the water below. We are not made to survive on water alone.
There is another kind of fasting called intermittent fasting, and it is not even remotely the same thing. For starters, intermittent fasting is not a diet. Think if it as a lifestyle change. Traditionally, intermittent fasting is when a person does not eat for several hours, but less than 24 hours. For example, many people who fast intermittently will skip breakfast, eat lunch and have an early dinner. Doing this kind of fast will not kill you. You are consuming the same amount of calories, but in a couple meals instead of grazing all day. There are health benefits associated with this. There are also health benefits associated with having many small meals throughout the day instead of a couple big ones. Essentially, it's your body and you should do whatever makes you feel better.
I understand that bloggers and celebrities are not interesting enough to come up with their own ideas and they have to follow bullshit trends that have been scientifically proven to be detrimental to your health in order to get attention, but let's get real here!
-Water fasting is an eating disorder, not a diet. Anything longer than three days is detrimental to your health because your body starts feeding off of your muscles. Short-term is okay. Long-term is not okay.
-Water fasting is extremely dangerous. You can literally die in seven days from doing this, no matter how healthy you thought you were before you began.
- Long-term water fasting is an idiotic trend perpetuated by reckless individuals who are seeking their own glory, and pushing serious topics to the side.
I was researching various blogs, trying to find something positive about water fasting; something to help me understand why anyone would do a diet that requires 24 hour medical supervision (if done properly, which it usually isn't), and while I didn't find anything that struck home, (You mean you lost weight by starving for 14 days?! No shit!) I did find a lot of preposterous claims. One of my favorites was a blogger who posted an image of neanderthals (which you can clearly tell from their shortened foreheads and stocky build) and she writes, "Fasting forces your body to get back into a more 'state of nature' style of operating." Can someone please explain to this girl that the neanderthals consumed 5,000 calories a day?? These people were not starving! Oh, and most of them died before they were 30 years old. You think that early man was trying to starve in order to fit into their saber tooth swim trunks? When anorexia kills more people than war, and we are volunteering to starve ourselves because it's trendy, we have a huge problem on our hands and the fact that it's being perpetuated by reckless bloggers with susceptible readers, is not okay. Water fasting is dangerous and anyone who tells you otherwise needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror and think about the impact of their words.
*My opinions on this blog are completely personal and in no way reflect the opinions of the National Eating Disorders Association. If you or someone you know may be suffering from an eating disorder, please visit the NEDA website or call them at 1-800-931-2237.
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