Let’s talk about food!
The transition out of a fast is at least as important as the transition into a fast. Once your stomach and digestive system have been asleep for a few days, you can’t just immediately pack it full with a deluxe pizza – no matter how attractive the thought of a good meal! I made the mistake of doing exactly this after my first 7-day water fast. I suffered with that pizza in my stomach for the next two or three days…
You need time to wake your digestive system up again, otherwise you’ll just overload it. This means being careful in both what you eat and how much you eat. The best thing is to follow your appetite. It could easily take a week for things to return to normal.
So what’s my plan for transitioning back at the end of this fast, this evening? I’m going to try no transition at all. Sounds stupid, I know, but if my system can switch off so easily (as it’s done the last couple of fasts), I’m hoping that it will have learned how to switch back on equally fast. I enjoy experimenting with my body – it’s the best way to learn! The fact is that if your eating a vegan diet, there’s no real need for much of a transition into a fast. Without meat and dairy clogging up your system, it’s just a question of grains and especially gluten products like wheat to think about. If you’re vegan and not too sensitive to gluten, then you can start a fast any time you want. On top of that, today is my 40th day of water fasting, if you add up the individual 5, 7 and 10 day fasts that I’ve done. I think the body reaches a point where it knows what to do, and maybe the magical number of 40 days is what you need.
I feel good this morning. A little weak in the legs, it’s true, but energy levels are good, and I was simply able to walk off the dull feeling in my kidneys this morning. The more intense detox period yesterday lasted through until about midnight. I was freezing through most of the evening! After that it calmed down, and everything has gone smoothly since then.
So I soaked the mung beans overnight, and they’re pre-boiling now for a couple of hours. My recipe is at the end of this post.
In the meantime, I’m going to be sending subconscious messages to myself through the day: that it’s time for the digestive system to wake up soon. When everyone else is having lunch, I may also have a taste of carrot juice and literally just a nut or two. Again, another reminder to the stomach without significantly affecting the biology of the fast.
It’s strange that during this fast I’ve been craving protein and salts. During most fasts I’ve craved sugars: instant energy to compensate for a lack of energy. But this time I can’t complain about that, even if physically I’m not as strong as usual. No: this time I think a deeper craving is going on. Maybe my usual diet is too low in protein. After the fast, I’m also thinking about lowering carb content and raising fats, so that the process of ketosis (direct burning of fat) initiated over the last few days can continue in combination with the usual glycogen-based (carbs and sugars) metabolism. This should help on some of my longer distance runs, because the most efficient use of energy during aerobic endurance activities actually occurs though ketosis.
I’ll post tomorrow on whether the no-transition exit of the fast succeeded or back-fired! In the meantime, here’s my own recipe for curried mung beans and rice (serves 5-6 people):
Mung beans and rice:
500g mung beans
500g basmati rice
@400ml tomato passata
2-3 dl. soya or oat milk
3-4cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons coriander paste (if available)
toasted sesame oil
Soak the mung beans overnight, replacing the water as often as possible.
Fry the onions and garlic, and add the curry powder towards the end to prevent burning. I use mostly Korma mild curry powder and add about 4-5 heaping tablespoons, but you can play with the quantity and type of curry powder. Today I also added some Tikka, which is a little spicier. Add a heaping tablespoon of garam masala as well as some salt, and fry for another couple of minutes. When the flavours have cooked through into the onions, add the passata and soya/oat milk into the frying pan Alternatively, tinned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes also work. Continue to heat for another few minutes.
In the meantime, place the mung beans in a large pot and cover with about 3 litres water. Add the mixture from the frying pan and bring to the boil, scooping off any foam which forms. Boil for at least an hour and a half. (At the end of this, you can use a blender to soften the mixture into a more soup-like texture if you want. I usually blend just a little, leaving the original texture of about most of the beans.)
At this point, you can leave the pot for the rest of the day, until dinner time, when you’ll add the rice and finish the dish. The main thing is that, once you’re about 10-15 minutes before you want to serve, you should add the rice to the boiling pot. Add a few tablespoons of cinnamon and coconut oil, a dash of toasted sesame seed oil, and the coriander paste. Now you just need to pay attention to the consistency of the fluid. The rice should absorb most of the water, leaving a wonderful mushy mixture. If there’s too much water, you’ll have to pour some off (which is a shame). If there’s too little water (which is the better option), you’ll need to add water little by little until the rice softens and you have the right consistency. Basically, this final part of the cooking is like when you make risotto, adding water to the rice as it boils.
If you’re not vegan, you can also add yogurt, as in the picture above.