Whether ritual or fad, fasting in Goa is catching on
BY MITA ARORA
Around the world, various cultures and regions have always observed fasting as part of rituals meant to promote family members’ health and well-being. For several decades, Goa has also seen a large number of people observe fasts.
I recently got in contact with a lot of these folks as some were getting ready to celebrate Karwa Chauth, which is primarily observed by married women in North India. They mentioned that people who have moved to Goa from the North celebrate other festivals as well.
Indu Kaushik, a resident of Calangute, shared, “I have always had a strong faith and determination to observe fasts on numerous auspicious days, whether it’s Karwa Chauth, Mahashivratri, Navratri, Janmashtami and more. My religious beliefs are profound and sentimental to me.”
For Indu, fasting is a belief that is supported by scientific evidence. “Simultaneously, I am someone who deals with life logically. Therefore, I am aware of the benefits that come with observing such fasts. The West has started calling it intermittent fasting and more, but it has always been a significant part of my culture. Fasting has numerous scientifically proven benefits, such as body detoxification and lowered blood pressure, among others,” she added.
Though there are many ways to fast for better health, intermittent fasting is the method that has attracted the most attention. Some of its adherents have reported that this specific fasting has assisted them in obtaining numerous additional health advantages in addition to weight loss.
Manisha Vashishth, resident of Old Goa has indicated, “Intermittent fasting has gained popularity as a dietary approach with potential health benefits. It involves cycling between periods of fasting and eating. I have been practicing it for more than five years. I have started with a 16-hour fasting window and an 8-hour eating window, and have gradually increased my fasting duration to 18-20 hours. Additionally, sometimes I practice OMAD (One Meal a Day). These variations in my fasting routine provides unique benefits.”
She further added, “I am experiencing positive outcomes from intermittent fasting, like increased energy levels, a sense of lightness in the body, clearer skin, weight or inch loss and reduced sugar cravings. It’s important to note that the effects of intermittent fasting can vary from person to person.”
Carlos, a resident of Porvorim, revealed that his heavy alcohol consumption and poor eating habits had once led him to have serious health-related issues. Over the past few years, this practice has helped him lose almost 30 kg of weight and reversed his type 2 diabetes.
“My health journey started in 2018. Medications didn’t help much. I started to read about alternate measures. Darryl’s book helped a lot in understanding how to go ahead. I had already given up alcohol by then, I gave up red meats and processed foods. I started intermittent fasting in 2021 and have been off medications for the last two years. My current weigh is 63.8kgs as of today morning. I now eat everything, no restrictions on food, I only control portion size and make sure that I finish my dinner by 7:15 to 7:30pm. Intermittent fasting and my weight loss have helped me in reversing my diabetes also reduced my back pain due to herniated disc (L4 - L5),” he shared.
Reema Aggarwal, a clinical dietician and functional medicine physician, cautions against the harmful ways in which some people have begun implementing intermittent fasting, such as dry fasting, in which water is not consumed for an extended period of time, or in which caffeine is taken in terms of liquid diets.
She explained that in order to establish whether and for how long one can begin intermittent fasting, a health examination is required. Neglecting to check can result in more serious health problems.
“Intermittent fasting or fasting was always a part of our ancient practices but nowadays people take it up as a fad and end up attracting some adverse effects. Fasting was always beneficial for our health as it gives our system a required break to absorb excrete and replenish. Avoidance of eating after 7 pm can be a good way to practice intermittent fasting. But note that you may attract these benefits only and only if you do it in the right manner and respect your body limitations,” she shared.
A sound understanding that everyone’s body is different is needed. What may have worked for a few, may not work for you. When the body experiences hunger and is suppressed consistently, the result can lead to a stress on the whole body. It is imperative to clarify both the goal and the individual’s physiological requirements for practicing fasting.
Stress, lightheadedness, nausea and exhaustion can result from persistent hunger pangs. Try and see what works for your health and body best. Be prepared that it may change over a period of time, and that’s okay too.