Re: Properly breaking a 23 day fast
I am on day 19 of a 23 day fast. After this Saturday I will be DONE! I can't wait! The reason for 23 is to do one day for each year of my life.
Way to go :). It would be nice to break your fast at a day for every year of your life since there is a nice poetic beauty in it ;). On the other hand, an experienced faster will usually break according to how they feel more so than any predetermined number of days and it is generally a very good idea to keep a fast open ended for this reason. Hopefully you feel great at 23 days :).
I plan to break the fast initially with some diluted carrot juice, but could use some guidance as far as time frames and food.
Diluted carrot juice sounds great if when the time comes you are excited about it and carrots smell like something you want to drink. I very much like carrot juice in general, but in breaking my 2 recent long fasts, it was quite undesirable for a few days while any and all fruit juices were delightful along with the cooked juices of tomatoes and/or most vegetables. I'm curious if anybody else has experienced this post-fast aversion to carrot juice for a few days? :)
I've read different things regarding how much raw fruit to eat at first and what type. My body doesn't react well to citrus fruits, so any other recommendations?
This will vary a lot from person to person and will depend a lot on how strong or weak you felt in breaking your fast. I am a big believer in breaking your fast with the most gradual transition possible towards normal eating which means juicing first. If it was me i would likely plan on juices for 2-7 days before eating whole fruits and a lot of this variation depends on how you feel and how well juices are satisfying you. I broke my recent 36 day fast with 1/8 cup of pineapple juice mixed with 1/8 cup of distilled water... and repeated this every half hour for 2 hours before moving on to similarly small but gradually increasing quantities of other juices and with more time in between.
Tiny amounts of whole fruits would be fine even right away if you felt you could keep the portions absolutely minimal, but for me it's easier to drink juices for a while than to attempt eating such tiny amounts of fruits at a time when my awakened appetite can be quite voracious... more so than my long slumbering digestive system is ready for. In any case i personally believe that the body will adjust the most optimally with a period of juicing preceding any whole fruits and by this time the appetite will have had a chance to calm down a bit. Juices are so exceedingly digestively simple that it is very difficult to over challenge our body with them.
Regarding alternatives to citrus, there's watermelon and other melons, papaya, grapes, cherries, apples, pears, mangoes, apricots, peaches and plums to name a few.
I've also read from some to eat raw veggies after the raw fruit but again, don't know how much, and still others say to do steamed veggies for easier digestion. Any advice?
After juices and then raw fruits, raw greens and then other raw veggies would be the next steps up the digestive challenge ladder followed by cooked greens and other cooked veggies. It's pretty hard to put a quantity on it and mostly it's about taking everything in cautiously experimental quantities starting with juices, always being careful to not over-challenge ourselves digestively. Days after you have broken your fast by the time you are eating vegetables, you will have a better idea what feels right and what your body is capable of. One key is to pay attention to how every meal makes you feel. If ever you feel weak or bogged down after eating, your quantity was in all likelihood too great.
As an example, if you ate 2 apples 24 hours after breaking your fast, this might be fine or it might be more than your system was ready for. Best to eat half an apple and see how you feel 20 minutes later. If you feel great, then you can probably eat an entire apple at your next meal... and if that makes you feel great, you can probably have 2 at the next.
If it helps, I'm 23 and am currently at 119 lbs on a 5'4 frame. So far I've lost about 17 pounds and really, really don't want to gain any back, if that's possible...
It is entirely possible to keep the fat off that you lost and even to continue burning more fat post-fast (when this was my goal about 16 months ago i achieved it very successfully and i know that others have done the same), but it would be quite difficult to keep the weight from temporary water and intestinal content loss off without sacrificing muscle.
Once you break your fast and transition from internal reserve feeding back to external feeding, your caloric intake should only be moderately below your caloric expenditure to continue burning fat while preserving muscle and it would be important to allow whatever temporary water and intestinal content losses to return without feeling you need to force your scale weight down through an extreme calorie deficit.