Less is More

You may have tried fasting. There are lots of different approaches, some of which are downright dangerous. Specifically, Ayurveda does not recommend total or prolonged fasting, which stresses the physiology, impairs immunity and may harm bodily tissues. On the other hand, Ayurveda strongly endorses a regular routine, because the body can readily adapt to it. Successful adaptation maintains stability—a hallmark of health. While we can adapt to unhealthy habits, we do so at significant long term cost. So it’s better to develop healthy habits.

Particularly for those who tend to be over-weight or have digestive disturbance, Ayurveda trumpets the advantages of fasting one day a week. Ideally, this should be the same day every week. On your fasting day, take it easy: rest at home or limit yourself to light activity. Take only warm nourishing liquids such as rice water, rice gruel, barley water, Kichari (see recipes below), lassi, soup, fresh fruit juice or fresh vegetable juice.

A liquid fast gives the digestive system a chance to self-correct. This is especially helpful when the digestive fire is weak causing either irregular appetite or sluggish digestion. The liquids I’ve suggested are easily digested. Faced with less work, the digestive system can more easily reset and deploy its extra capacity to remove toxins that may have accumulated along with excess bodily fat.

Recipes

If you have a short temper, hyper-acidity, rashes or hot flashes, use white basmati rice, hulled barley or their flours in these recipes and skip the ginger. Brown rice is wholesome, but heating to the body.

White rice needs at least 20 minutes of cooking. Allow an hour for brown rice or barley. Fifteen minutes is enough for flours.

Bring the ingredients to a boil, then cover and cook on low heat for the required time. Strain off the grains for rice or barley water. Mash or blenderize for gruel. Keep these liquids hot in a stainless-steel thermos. Do not reheat. Sip small quantities frequently.

Rice Water (Kanji)

  • 1/4 cup grain rinsed
  • 4 cups water
  • Slice of ginger, pinch of rock salt, pinch of cumin

Rice Gruel (Peya)

  • 1/4 cup grain rinsed
  • 4 cups water
  • Slice of ginger, pinch of rock salt, pinch of cumin

Barley Water (flour method)

  • 2 Tbs. barley or rice flour
  • 4 cups water
  • Slice of ginger, pinch of rock salt, pinch of cumin

Plain Kichari

This plain Kichari makes a light liquid meal if you need more substance to get through your fasting day. Red lentils need 20-30 minutes. Mung beans need 1 hour (10 minutes in a pressure cooker). Set cooking time according to whichever ingredient needs the most time.

  • 1/4 cup grain rinsed
  • 2 Tbs. red lentils or mung beans
  • 2 cups water
  1. Bring to boil, cover and cook on lowest heat for 1 hour
  2. Add a slice of ginger, a pinch of rock salt, a little black pepper and a pinch of cumin in the last few minutes of cooking
  3. Do not reheat