After all, we are what we eat

My 21 days experience says it only takes as many days to recharge and transform your body and mind

Healthy food - salad
Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

In the past few hundred years in the process of human evolution, our food habits and work culture have drastically changed. Our food came naturally – without processing, heating, or transforming the pure produce of nature. There used to be a lot of physical work near nature, along with equally challenging mental work. 

Today, most of our food items are either processed, or contaminated and therefore devoid of the original potions of mother nature. Our food system today is dominated by fad diets and quick fixes.

However, while returning to our original natural way of living is impractical today, there are ways to detox and revitalise our body and mind by fasting once in a while. I decided to experiment with the solutions provided by our ancient Vedic sciences. 

After having scanned related literature, I took up the fasting challenge for 21 days. It is believed that in 21 days you can overhaul our body. This experiment helped me realise the depth of knowledge hidden within ancient Vedic scriptures. I could not help writing this piece to share my personal experience that has radically changed my approach to health and well-being. Even if this article inspires one person, that would be a success. 

Scientific and spiritual dimensions

Photo by Okan Caliskan for Pixabay

At the outset, it is crucial to dispel that 21 days on fruits and salads is a “challenge.” Rather, it is a return to our natural state of flourishing, aligning with pure, nutrient-rich foods that our bodies were designed to relish and thrive on. Fruits and vegetables –  the core of this fast –  offer a bounty of essential nutrients without the excess calories and harmful additives found in processed foods. 

We are built in such a way that we can never overeat fruits, veggies, and natural food grains. For example, you have to eat at least 12 apples to gain as many calories as one fast-food meal (eg. McDonald’s Big Mac meal has 1120 calories). But what matters is: that fruits and salads provide more nutrient-rich calories, compared to processed foods. This may be the reason why people tend to eat unusually large quantities if they are served the regular dal-bhat (processed rice), as compared to brown rice, dhido (millet), buckwheat, or chapati (full-grain bread). 

The 21-day diet 

There are thousands of very useful detox tips online, but it is only your mind and body that can best gauge what works for you. After over four years of testing my body with different diet plans, I gathered the strength to do the 21-day challenge, which turned out to be the most exciting. 

What is interesting is that the quantity, type, timing and frequency of eating natural organic fruits and salads during these days were guided by my body and mind as my fruits and salads had no extra dressings, heating or chilling. The quantity you need to eat may be different for different people. 

During the 21-day journey, I followed a simple yet highly nourishing routine to feed my body and mind: seasonal and organic fruits and salads, supplemented with a small number of sprouts and nuts in the morning for optimal nutrition. I took fruits for breakfast and salads for lunch and dinner and abstained from eating after sunset. I took a 30-minute direct sun every morning.

For the mind, I tried not to stress and think of any negative thoughts and practised morning yoga.

The first three days were a complete whirlpool, with my body experiencing what felt like monstrous storms, thunder and lightning. But then everything subsided in the next two days. What followed were days of complete calm, as my body and mind found harmony in the nourishing embrace of nature’s bounty. The third week was an optimization.

The effects were nothing short of miraculous. With each passing day, I felt a surge of boundless energy, eliminating the everyday post-work exhaustion. I experienced a deep sense of satisfaction, knowing that I was nourishing my body with pure, organic fruits free from harmful chemicals and additives. I did before and after lab tests. Almost all my test reports were never so balanced. I was tempted to even declare: that I have found solutions to all problems. But that would be too naive a generalization about complex human health.

We are made of food we eat

Vipassana meditation
Photo by Max on Unsplash

In reflecting on this journey, I am struck by the profound idea in the adage: “We are what we eat.” The most natural solution to many of our modern ailments seems to lie not in complex medications, but in the simple act of nourishing our bodies with the foods we are meant to consume. According to Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 18, sloke 52), fasting is the best way to heal and purify the human body and mind. 

As I delved into the existing literature on the scientific and spiritual dimensions of fasting, I found a remarkable convergence between ancient Vedic teachings and modern research findings. While West literature offers a myriad of approaches to fasting, from intermittent fasting to Peterson’s meat-only diets and the Gee Bryant Code, the wisdom of the Vedas provides a timeless blueprint for optimal health and vitality.

While the West provides a range of non-deterministic and technically safe-looking conclusions through health science, which is completely ignorant of the spiritual dimension, the ancient Vedic scriptures seem to provide, with confidence, an impeccable solution that combines physics (food and body) with metaphysics (thought and mind). For the Vedic school of thought, the mind and body are integral, one cannot be detoxed if the other is feeding on toxins. This model requires our own mind to walk in harmony with our body.

Risk and caution

Of course, taking up this challenge has risks, and one has to approach it with caution. Consulting with a qualified dietician or doctor is important, as is having a strong faith in the power of the time-tested method, which is articulated in the oriental Vedic scriptures. Contrary to the belief that fruits and salads alone do not offer sufficient calories and nutrients, my personal experience suggests otherwise. Moreover, notable individuals like Patric Baboumian, one of the strongest men in the world, adhere to a vegetarian diet. And if it is for just 21 days, I believe, it is not a big deal.

The practice of fasting on fruits and vegetables is not merely a personal 21-day journey of self-discovery but an effective way to control your five senses and improve your willpower and resistance against bodily temptations, as advised by Bhagavad Gita, The Science of Fasting 2010 and several saints and scientists.

Fasting can be different but in general, as American scientist and author, Benjamin Franklin, said, “The best of all medicines is rest and fasting.”  What should logically follow the 21 days is a personal transformation – and a strong conviction in the power of plant-based diets and in combining body and mind for a greater and more meaningful cause.

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Sigdel is a development communicator and can be reached at [email protected].

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