Meditating Away Your Hunger During a Fast

I practice 20/4 intermittent fasting on a daily basis. Usually I have my first meal around 2:00 pm and the last one (dinner) at 6:00 pm. On most days dinner consists of just a health bar (e.g. Kind bar), a cup of almond milk, and a handful of nuts, or I’d skip it altogether if I’m not too hungry. Going without food for 20+ hours sometimes can be challenging, especially if I skipped or didn’t eat enough dinner.

I find meditation, along with other methods, to be quite effective for staving off hunger during a fast. Hunger is your body telling you to eat something. I’ve talked quite a bit about learning to listen to your body. But as it turns out, the communication is a two-way street– you can also tell your stomach to wait for a few more hours (or even a few more days if you’re on a longer fast).

I find that the best way to use meditation to fight off hunger is to meditate even before the onset of hunger. I find it easier to go deeper into meditation on an empty stomach because my body is not preoccupied with the digestion of food.

I enter a state of calm and repeatedly perform mental scans of my entire body from head to toe. In a deep state of calm and relaxation, and being aware of my breathing, I acknowledge how great my body feels to be in its present state, without introducing new foreign substances into it and burdening it with additional digestion and metabolism.

I turn my attention to any part of my body where I feel sensation, especially the unpleasant hunger pangs in my stomach. What is the sensation trying to tell me? I acknowledge and investigate it with subtle interest. If it’s an uncomfortable feeling, I could just let it melt away or leave my body through an out-breath.

I invite every one of my 100 trillion cells to keep doing what it is designed to do. I invite my cells to self-repair, to keep burning the fat stored in my tissues (ketosis) for energy, to clean up and recycle waste materials (autophagy), and to perform other tasks in the rejuvenation of my body.

I don’t analyze or scrutinize my meditative efforts against my scientific knowledge in any way. I realize that science cannot adequately address the complexity of the human body or explain how 100 trillion cells in the body work together to form a conscious, highly intelligent, self-aware being. 

Just being aware of the miracle of being alive, in awe of the body’s humanly incomprehensible intelligence to keep everything working smoothly, lessens the desire to unnecessarily burden it with more substances to digest and metabolize.

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