According to Hildegard’s fasting guidelines, a fast is not about starvation or even a diet designed for weight loss. Instead, Hildegard’s fasting guidelines simply emphasize the deliberate avoidance of harmful foods for a limited period of time.
Hildegard of Bingen believed that everything we eat either strengthens or weakens our body. According to Hildegard, nutrition affects our vitality, as well as our positive and negative thoughts. Hildegard espoused the healing power of foods. She believed in the body’s power to heal itself, particularly when boosted by periodic fasting or intermittent fasting.
Hildegard’s fasting guidelines – you are what you eat
Fasting provides the body with natural opportunities to actively regenerate. In addition, it helps relieve the body of valuable energy, which would otherwise be used to digest food.
Most people report positive experiences from fasting.
Most commonly people report feeling more active, cheerful, and efficient. The mental clarity that results from a period of fasting derives from a restored balance between mind and body. Weight reduction is a welcome side effect for many people, but should not be the goal.
It may seem counterintuitive, but many people experience a boost in energy and mood. Hildegard believed this to be the result of resting the soul. Rather than dedicating energy to the flood of daily problems and thoughts, we allow our bodies to experiences some relief.
The Hildegard’s fasting guidelines have been applied in Germany for generations. The underlying premise of her fasting guidelines is that diet is more important than any medicine, drugs, or physical therapy. Ultimately, our health is predicated on proper diet.
Where Modern Medicine Fails
Nutritional medicine represents only a small part of the curriculum for a classically trained physician. Moreover, nutrition plays a minor role in the practice of medicine for the treatment of suffering.
Widespread first-world health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes are highly correlated with dietary habits found in modern society. Yet modern medicine only addresses diet in passing.
Instead the practice of medicine often focuses on pharmaceutical interventions that often carry their own serious side effects and long-term implications.
Fasting to Cleanse Toxins
Hildegard’s fasting guidelines help inform the body to do what it does naturally: cleanse toxins and waste materials. Pathogens and unwanted build-up of naturally occurring wastes are dispensed from the body. Sugar, fat, and uric acid levels decline, creating space for the improvement of metabolic disorders.
Hildegard recommends spiritual fasting as a psychotherapeutic panacea for 29 of her 35 subconscious virtues. Her writing promotes spiritual fasting as a universal remedy to change consciousness and release healing powers for a new perspective on life.
Through fasting, one disrupts the daily routine and dispenses with old habits. Ultimately, the practitioner profits from the sacrifice.
As your body attempts to expel accumulated toxins, you might experience fasting discomfort. Fasting discomfort can manifest in short-term symptoms like a headache, dizziness, light sensitivity, poor circulation, or reinforcement of existing rheumatic disorders. The good news is that a fasting discomfort means your body is starting to heal.
Before embarking on any fasting regime, some people should proceed with particular caution. We do not recommend Hildegard ‘s fasting guidelines for individuals with acute illnesses, pregnant women, or people suffering from eating disorders like anorexia. Anyone taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs should consult with a physician before proceeding.
Hildegard proposed some remedies as effective in managing any fasting discomfort that might arise during a Hildegard fast.
The following elements prove effective for discomfort during a fast.
- Ginger granules for discharging bad juices;
- Fennel tablets for regenerating the digestive system;
- Galangal tablets to eliminate chest/heart pain, dizziness, and weakness;
- Combination fennel and galangal tablets with wormwood elixir, for removing deposits from the blood vessels and organs and parsley elixir for stabilizing the heart and circulation.
Hildegard’s fasting guidelines include three healthy fasts:
(1) Spelt Fast
This is the lightest among Hildegard’s three healthy fasts. The Spelt Fast does not mandate a total relinquishment of food. Three meals are permitted per day, all of which focus on spelt products, fruits, and vegetables.
(2) Bread Fast
This is an intermediate stage fast, between the Spelt Fast and the Hildegard Fast. One approach to a Hildegard Bread Fast includes switching back and forth daily between the Spelt Fast and the Hildegard Fast.
Alternatively, some practitioners prefer a hybrid approach, whereby one day is spent with a quasi-Spelt Fast, followed by one day of modified Hildegard Fast, or reduction diet. In this case, a reduction diet is a traditional Hildegard Fast enhanced with spelt bread, fennel, and spelt/lettuce salad. Find more on bread as part of your nutrition in our post: What is Spelt Bread?.
(3) Hildegard Fast
A formal Hildegard fast replaces food with fasting drinks for 6 – 8 days. Hildegard recommends certain dietary substitutes for food, including spelt coffee, fennel tea, herbal tea, or fruit juices.