Our bodies were designed to go for days without eating. Our prehistoric ancestors would not experience undue stress the way we do from missing just one meal. However, we have spoiled our bodies. Every time we get hungry, we start to breathe very shallowly. This is because we haven’t learned to retain our calm while hungry. The best way to overcome this is to spend several minutes pairing fasting with diaphragmatic breathing.
Skip a meal, or at least delay a meal for 2 to 4 hours. When you do so focus on the sensation of hunger and the way it affects your breathing. Don’t skip a meal in the middle of a hectic day, this will further traumatize your relationship with hunger. Rather you want to pair the fast with pure calm. Fasting for more than a single meal can be stressful as well. When I skip a meal, I do nothing and just relax for the 3 or 4 hours when I am at my hungriest. A few hours after your normal mealtime, you will notice recurring pangs of hunger. The hunger pangs are driven by shallow breathing, but diaphragmatic breathing will make them disappear.
All your life until now you have paired hunger with shallow breathing. Dissociate these by using paced breathing to override hunger’s ability to highjack your stress system. I have found that by pairing diaphragmatic breathing with hunger, I have dramatically soothed my hunger drive and I eat less now because of it.
The best way to ensure that you are breathing diaphragmatically is by using the breath pacer app Breathe 2 Relax. This is sometimes called a breath metronome. It will help you ensure that you are taking longer deeper breaths. Breathing in the range of 1-2 seconds per breath during hunger will make your hunger more neurotic. Breathing in the range of 4 to 12 seconds per breath will help you bring peace to hunger. Breathing on longer intervals recruits the diaphragm, which in turn recruits the relaxation response. You want to flood your hunger pains with the relaxation response. For my full description of how to achieve diaphragmatic breathing click here.
Diaphragmatic Fasting Activity
Plan to skip dinner or lunch and spend 2 to 4 hours quelling your hunger pangs using diaphragmatic breathing. Concentrate on the sensations of hunger and how they make your breathing shallow. It is best to breath along with a breath metronome somewhere in the range of 4-10 seconds for each inhalation and 6 to 12 seconds for each exhalation. Pair paced breathing with hunger for at least an hour during this fast. You should start to see results within the first two sessions.
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