To learn how to eat . . . try fasting 18. November 2007 William Davis (13) Curious thing about fasting: It teaches you how to eat. In previous posts, I've discussed the potential benefits of fasting: reduction of blood pressure, reduction of inflammatory responses, drop in blood sugar, weight loss, and reduced heart attack risk. In my recent Heart Scan Blog post, Fasting and Heart Disease, I discussed the just-released results of a study in people who fast for religious reasons and experience less heart disease. Fasting can mean going entirely without food and just making do with (plenty of) water, or it can mean variations on "fasting" such as vegetable juice fasts, soy milk fasts, etc. How can fasting teach you any lessons about food and eating?People who fast will tell you that the experience:--Helps you appreciate food tastes when you resume eating. After a fast, flavors are stronger; sensations like sweet, sweet, or salty are sharper; you become reacquainted with the variety of wonderful food textures. --Makes you realize how you ate too much before your fast. After a fast, you are satisfied with less. You will eat more for taste and enjoyment, less for satiety and mindless indulgence.--Makes you more mindful of the act of eating. For many of us, eating is an automatic activity that provides fleeting satisfaction. After a fast, each bite of food brings its own special enjoyment. --Reveals to you how awful you felt when many foods were eaten. For example, many people are physically slightly ill after eating pancakes, pizza, or other highly processed foods but cease to recognize it. Remove the offensive foods entirely and you might realize just how bad you felt. --Takes away fear of hunger. Many people have a gut-wrenching fear of hunger. It's probably partly instinctive, that animal-like fear of not knowing when your next meal is coming, partly the abnormal, artificial drive to eat ignited by processed foods like wheat and corn syrup.--Makes you realize just how much of your day is spent in some activity associated with food. Shopping, eating, cleaning up afterwards, thinking and talking about food all occupy an extraordinary portion of everyone's life. A fast can open your eyes to just how much time is spent in these pursuits. Sometimes, gaining an awareness of a mindless, repetitive behavior can provide the first step towards changing direction. Most people consider a fast for rapid weight loss. But fasting is far more than that. Perhaps fasting has become an integral part of many religious practices because of its capacity for enlightenment, reawakening, revelation, but not of only the spiritual, but also of how far many of us have strayed in diet. Fasting is what Omnivore's Dilemma author Michael Pollen might describe as looking the pig you're about to eat in the eye, an opportunity to open your eyes to what it is you 've been doing all these years.