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FOOD FIRST - July 2015 - Kansas City

Beyond Food as Medicine

By Bethany Klug


Hubby and I have fasted for seven to 10 days every spring for many years now. This year’s fast stood out from others. It revealed how food, or lack thereof, influenced our relationship with one another and the world. It showed us that the power of food goes way beyond medicine to shaping our behavior as individuals and a culture. Now that’s powerful. Here’s what we observed and the questions that arose:


Deep Rest. It’s normal for the body and mind to assume a slow idle, using minimal energy after a few days of fasting. If we demanded more our brains and bodies clearly protested. So we chose to limit our exertion. We felt good as long as we didn’t do too much, but wondered if the fast was draining our energy. Not so. We came out of this fast deeply rested, both mentally and physically. We all know how hard it is to slow down these days. Fasting, we discovered, is a vehicle for deep rest, as long as we honor our body’s signals.


This led us to ask, “When do we truly rest?” Like most people, we usually go somewhere on vacation. There’s lots of activity and stimulation with places to go and people to see. It’s a great change of pace, nourishing to the soul, but it isn’t always restful. Most people need to be stopped, by illness, accident or loss, to rest. Yet there is this wonderful, healing way to rest, fasting.


Present Moment Awareness. This wasn’t a conscious choice, but appeared to be created by this idling state. Time slowed. We slowed. It just happened. We fully took in whatever the present moment offered us: enjoying the birds in our yard, taking a warm bath, sitting in the sun or cleaning up after juicing. A quiet space arose from which I could discern feelings more clearly and let them go.


While the aspiration to be present is quite popular, many people find it difficult. Could fasting be a natural way to experience the present moment with very little effort that could continue or be recalled once the fast is over?


Cooperation. We’ve all seen the cave drawings of hunters. Did it take so many men because the animal was big, or because their energy was low from days without food? It took two of us to make the juice each day, a job usually done by Hubby alone while I attend to something else. Or perhaps in that present moment state of mind I couldn’t think of anything else to do. Whatever the reason, doing things together was the best part of the fast for Hubby.


In these times where people crave connection but feel more disconnected than ever, where government and society are characterized by disagreement and conflict, fasting could help us rediscover our commonality and shared goals. Could it be that as food has become more abundant, we have become more self-centered rather than community-centered, more concerned about our own needs, wants and advancement because we no longer need one another to fulfill our basic needs. Could fasting together put us in touch with our interdependence with each other and the earth?


Wise Energy Use. The day we broke our fast, I kept my regularly scheduled voice lesson. I expected the lesson would be fun as always, but a write-off in terms of performance. Instead two things happened. My voice was relaxed. I could hold notes that usually require me to take a catch breath. But, my voice teacher noticed something more profound. I was singing with less effort and that less effort lead to a desirable quality of stillness appropriate to the piece I was singing.


Which again led me to ask another question: “Where in our lives are we applying too much effort?” How many of us are splashing instead of gliding smoothly through the waters of life? By applying less energy, could we find more stillness in our lives?


I hope this article motivates you to join me and Hubby for next spring’s fast.


See our summer classes to help you reduce your toxic load and add some quick, easy and delicious dishes to your weekly repertoire. Learn more at


HealthSpan, the holistic medicine practice of Dr. Bethany Klug, is offering some excellent classes this summer to help you reduce your toxic load and add some quick, easy and delicious dishes to you weekly repertoire. Learn more at



Bethany Klug, DO created HealthSpan out of a deep wish: for everyone to experience vibrant health. We go beyond the conventional pill-for an-ill approach to educate and inspire you so you can successfully make positive steps toward greater health and wellbeing. Learn more at or 913-642-1900.

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