This was an open, ongoing journal, that began January 1st, 2023, when I start my 3rd extended water-only fast.
I’ve done a 10-day, & a 21-day extended water-only fast. This time, I chose to not put a timeline (which is usually ego-based), and instead tune into my body & provide it with whatever it needs.
You’re welcome to follow my journey as I lived it moment-to-moment!
My Intentions for the Fast: a deep physical cleanse, cultivating determination, fine-tuning my intuition, and letting go.
In case you want to know more about extended water-only fasting, here’s The Ultimate Guide.
January 1st, 2023. Day 1/ Unknown
And here we go!
I got up upbeat about the fast – the first time when I did 10 days, I didn’t really have any specific feelings about it. The second time, 21 days, I was a tad nervous about Day 1.
This time though, I find myself kinda excited!
Also, even before the fast started (today), yesterday I had a thought I believe is worth sharing:
We are all already living virtual reality. Every single person literally projects every other single person in their lives (including themselves). Because you never really know the person (or even yourself), just your version of them (and you) in your head.
So your head/ inner world is full of versions of all the people in the world. And each one of us has our own individual world inside our head. As if we’re wearing a VR headset and thinking we’re in the “real” world living with all these other “real” people!
And so how do you know if, right this moment, you’re actually living your real life, or are you in your headset?
And we don’t even understand our own worlds because what you believe your world to be is only 5% of your world – so when you’re not aware of 95% of your world, do you really even know your world?Musings, as I was listening to one of my favorite teachers.
I’d say I’m off on a good start with that!
Last Meal: Around 8 PM on Dec 31st, 2022.
Weight, Jan 1st, 2023 morning: 134.8 lb
January 2nd, 2023. Day 2/ Unknown
So Day 1 was okay – I was very aware of “wanting” not “needing” to eat. I was also around people who were eating a variety of different things! I felt physical hunger 2-3 times. Once I had a thought that I should just let go of this fast, & eat – like, why do it, what’s the point?! Again, I was aware of the mind & its uber smart games – how it plays you in a way that you tend to believe it!
I drank about 3l of water yesterday. It was a beautiful day, the sun was out nice & bright. Zishan (my spouse), a couple of friends, & I went for a short & easy guided day hike to Arboretum in Madison. Now that I think of it, I should have taken a few pictures! Well, another day 🙂
I also watched Netflix more than I’d ideally want to when fasting.
Rest, so far so good. Though in some ways Day 2 seems to be day 8 or 9 – in terms of feeling settled down with fasting, & increased awareness.
January 3rd, 2023. Day 3/ Unknown
Day 2 was good. I was at home all day. Did my regular sit (meditation) & flow (yoga stretches) – did it twice, for short intervals. Was I hungry? Now I can’t recall – but I think maybe once my stomach growled at me!
I’d also soaked some jeera/ cumin seed in water the night before – mixed that with my 1l water bottle. In the evening squeezed in a few drops of lime in my 3rd 1l bottle for the day.
Most of the day I did regular scheduled work – conversations with the women I work with, and admin related stuff related to Mindbloom (I work as a Psychedelic Guide with them). Other than that I also watched Netflix – finished the few remaining episodes of Imposters.
In the evening Zishan was preparing his weekly meal, and I relished my olfactory senses in the amazing food odors! Initially my body’s instinct was to stop breathing so that it doesn’t get in the smells!
The moment I noticed it though, I remembered from my 21 days the different ways to satisfy your body – one of them being smelling the food being cooked. And so I started inhaling long & deep, taking in all the deliciousness through my sense of smell!
I slept relatively early – around 9:30 – 10 PM – hoping to get an early start today.
However, since today morning I’m able to feel the drop in energy, so I let myself sleep in. I think I must have slept for around 10 hours last night. I believe this is the ketosis kicking in. Once I got out of the bed I prepared a glass of warm water with a few drops of lime & some salt.
The salt helps with my BP (blood pressure) – while I don’t have low BP, my BP readings are usually on the lower end of the range. And from my first 10-day under supervision at Sehatvan, I understand what it feels like when my BP goes down, & what to do about it.
Again, this is why it’s helpful to have someone experienced guide you through your first long fast.
P.S. Weight, Jan 3rd, 2023 morning: 131.4 lb
January 4th, 2023. Day 4/ Unknown
Yesterday, Day 3, I was aware of not having eaten, & also aware of some weakness in my body. I was mindful of how I felt, & I think just being mindful helped.
When I began this fast I didn’t want to settle down on how many days I’ll fast for because I wanted to minimize the ego involvement.
However, yesterday I realized that having that final number can be helpful in harder patches of this journey as a motivating factor! As is always true, life reaffirmed to me that EVERY SINGLE THING has pros & cons – if you’re willing to see!
I also observed my ego dance – I thought to myself, “It has to be at least 21 days, no, actually it must be more. May be 30. No, 4 weeks looks good, so may be 28 days.” Ah, the ego, & the conditioning of what looks “good”, and how it must be/ look/ compare to/ on & on & on!
I had lime-infused water most of the day. And then in the evening, before a call, I felt tempted to have some coffee – black, just a tad. But I know from past experience that if I live without caffeine in my system for about a week, my body will stop needing it altogether! So instead I had some chicory root – it’s a caffeine free herb with various other health benefits.
Later at night, our usual night tea time, I had a concoction of turmeric, ajwain/ carom seeds, & freshly grounded black pepper in hot water. However, I won’t repeat this mix before sleep, because I felt it made my body active, probably the black pepper. But hey, I found an energy boost drink for the day!
Yesterday was a packed day for me with respect to work. I think because of all my practices I was able to stay with the discomfort of the body, AND clarity of the mind.
There was no avoidance, no drowning in the unpleasant sensations & feelings. Just seeing & acknowledging it all, listening to all that arises, being with what is, and continually grounding & soothing (where needed) myself.
Yesterday, for me, in many ways, was a testament to all the inner-work I’ve been doing all these years. And today as I write this I feel happy & content.
Today, Day 4, seems like a good day. I got up at 6:15 AM. I feel good in terms of energy & mood. Let’s see how the day goes!
Note: This time, it seems like a lot of things are happening sooner than last time – like my sense of smell has been up since day 2 v/s post day 7/8 during my 21 days, already on day 4 I feel relatively good, my mind has been sharper since day 2 vs in the second half of 21 days.
January 5th, 2023. Day 5/ Unknown
Day 4 seemed to be a mix of sorts. I mostly felt good, I had enough energy to hold space in all three calls, do my NMC (Nalanda Masters Course in Buddhist Philosophy & Psychology) class, research on the next article I’m writing on dark retreats, do the daily admin work needed for Mindbloom, & do my regular sit & flow.
However, every time I had to physically move around from one place to another, there was inertia, & when I did move, I could feel a drop of energy & the desire (and also the need to some extent) to sit down.
I continued with lime infused water, had a glass of salt, lime & warm water once, had a glass of water infused with turmeric, carom seeds, fenugreek seeds, & crushed black pepper in the evening.
I also did two rounds of enema yesterday. Just like the last time I was surprised at all that comes out despite not eating!
I felt bothered by the taste in my mouth – during fasting your mouth tends to taste a certain way. For me it’s this sweet, metallic kind of weird taste, that I find a little aversive. Most articles online say there’s a fruity smell/ taste/ metallic taste/ etc.
I find myself wanting flavored water partly to avoid this taste. The other reason to have flavored water is just to provide the body with some micronutrients which is why the flavoring is with different herbs.
I guess this – the mouth taste – is an aversion I’m not yet ready to work on. Right now my mind’s like, “Okay, you’re already working with many other aversions, it’s okay to let this one be as is for a while!”
In the last year I struggled with maintaining rest. I found myself deprioritizing my sleep the most – as soon as a decision needed to be made, I’d let go of my 7-8 hours of sleep the first thing.
While I functioned okay with it, deep down I knew I wasn’t being fair to my body – this body that allows me to do everything I’ve ever done, do, will ever do – I was mistreating it. And so one of my focus areas for this year is minimum 7 hours of sleep every night.
Since I started with the fast on Jan 1st that’s being automatically met because my body is like, “No more talks, it’s bed time now!” I’m really glad about it, & hope to continue it for the rest of the year.
Today, Day 5, it’s 7:42 AM for me, and I feel good. Let’s see how the day progresses!
P.S. Weight, Jan 5th, 2023 morning: 128.8 lb
January 6th, 2023. Day 6/ Unknown
Day 6 began with a little hesitation when getting up as I was anticipating feeling week when I got out of the bed. To my surprise, I felt okay, though there was this light ache I experienced in my head.
Yesterday my tolerance for screen work went down – though I enjoyed my calls where I was talking to people, but more documents oriented work, like this – journaling here, & others like reading/ creating things on screen – was a hard.
The headache too was a little prominent yesterday – I say a little because while it was there, it wasn’t too bad, or maybe my tolerance is higher, either ways it was visible and it was okay.
At various points in the day yesterday I felt maybe I’d puke. But I didn’t. I also reminded myself that this is the healing crisis phase that typically happens towards the end of stage 2/ beginning of stage 3 – if you want to know more about healing crisis or fasting stages go to How Do I Start An Extended Water Fast?
There’s also some pain in the sides, towards the back, in my stomach area – I know that’s from the ketone release.
I’m glad tomorrow is my day off, & we’re going to Late Winter Market here which has a, “a full array of fruits and vegetables, cheeses, hyper-local meats, honey, bakery items, and many specialty items.” I look forward to relishing it through the other senses – sight & smell!
January 7th, 2023. Day 7/ Unknown
As I’ve mentioned in the article, “How Do I Start An Extended Water Fast?”, energy goes up & down many times even in the same day. So yesterday I began with an upswing of energy, but soon began to feel not so great. My ability to drink water was significantly reduced yesterday, in fact I felt sick drinking water.
I did some work yesterday – Fridays are mostly my back-end days where I do a weekly review, plan for the coming week, create needed content, etc. Just did the review, one call in the morning, & then NMC class. I slept for an hour in the day, and then finally in the evening I knew what needed to be done.
I went and puked. And as I had anticipated, I puked bile. Basically, the liver produces bile which helps in digestion. Now, during a water-only fast since there’s nothing to digest, the bile starts to collect in the gallbladder (which is where it is stored anyway).
After some days, as this bile is sitting there useless, and our body is wise beyond most people’s imagination, it wants the bile out! Thus, creating the discomfort of nauseousness so that one eventually pukes it out.
The moment I puked, I could feel the sudden shift in how I felt. I’m always amazed at how smart this body is! The more you listen to it, the more you’ll benefit. But of course, you need to re-learn how to listen to it. I say re-learn because children know how to listen to their bodies. (Most) adults have forgotten.
After I puked, I thought let me do some other ablutions too! So I did Jal Neti (a yogic practice – the short video in the link will show what it is), & then a round of enema.
So that was yesterday. Today I got up without an alarm at around 7:40 AM & felt well rested. Slowly my need for the number of hours of sleep will reduce. As will my need for water – I will still need & drink water, but maybe not as much as 3l as I did in the first few days.
Today we’re going out – Late Winter Market plus weekly groceries, followed by lunch at a friend’s place. I obviously will be partaking in all of it through senses other than taste 🙂
P.S. Weight, Jan 7th, 2023 morning: 126.4 lb
January 8th, 2023. Day 8/ Unknown
Yesterday was great! The moment I stepped out of the house I could feel this major energy shift within – as if I hadn’t not eaten for 6+ days! Since it’s pretty cold here, & I have functional reasons to go out of the house, I step out once a week on Saturdays. But despite it being cold, I relished it!
And that’s when I also realized the many things that are missing for my being this fast – being in direct sunlight, lying down on bare earth, being in the green (it’s mostly all brown here because it’s so cold that the lakes have frozen!), & alarm-less sleeping (I do sleep once or twice in the day, but it’s with an alarm).
A part of me, mostly my mind, is like – let’s stop the fast now. Another part (again mind) is like, you’ve completed 7 days, enjoy the fruits of the third phase (which, by the way, I can feel today). My body’s like, give me more of the above four things you gave me during the 21 days!
For now, I feel okay to good in my body. My mind keeps fluctuating, but I know that’s its nature. So I’ll carry on.
Yesterday we went to the Late Winter Market, then Trader Joe’s, & then Costco. I got myself a couple 0 calorie, 0 sugar, vitamin infused drinks. I was like – no sun, no earth, no greenery, less sleep – let me support my body with some added vitamins!
Then we went over for lunch to our friends who’d made Masala Dosa, Coconut Chutney, & Sambar! I relished all the smells, while the rest of them ate 😉
January 9th, 2023. Day 9/ Unknown
Ah, the many ups & downs of a water-only fast! You know, it takes strong mental determination (or at least it took me some strong determination, especially since now I “know” what & how things happen during it) to start such a fast.
Yesterday had many ups & downs. When the day began I felt great. At various points in the day this “great” feeling fluctuated. Then in the evening we went for a walk – going out, like before, shifted my energy, I was upbeat. But then it was decently cold outside last evening. And it probably took it’s toll.
Later in the evening I felt very uneasy, mostly my stomach. Later in the night, at around 11:30 PM I puked bile again. This time the concentration of bile was less (because the color wasn’t yellow, only the taste was bitter-sweet).
For those who don’t know, I don’t know how bile actually looks like, but when you puke it, it’s yellow in color, & bitter to bitter-sweet in taste. After puking I was able to sleep.
Today morning when I got up, I realized that my body’s energy system has shifted – so I don’t feel weakness per se because my body is able to get its energy from the reserves (stored fats). However, my digestive system seems to be persistent (since bile is still forming).
I’m also struggling with excess air element in the body – for those who don’t “believe” in elements, think of it as gas. Which makes sense since I’ve taken out the earth element – again, replace earth element with food if you like. This excess air/ gas is very discomforting.
Last time around I could lay on bare earth & get my earth from there, get my fire from the sun, get my nourishment from the green. This time I find myself struggling without all these.
However, at the end of the day, I realize that it’s all a mind game, that it’s all ephemeral, momentary. Every single discomfort of the body – arising, passing, arising, passing; arising only to pass away.
And for now, I’m staying with that moment-to-moment experience – staying with the discomfort when it’s there, trying to stay (it’s difficult to not feel great, & to just be) with the pleasant moments & “ups” – which, by the way, is not to say don’t enjoy good moments! Absolutely not! Relish them! Revel in them! WITH the understanding that this too has arisen only to pass away.
P.S. Weight, Jan 9th, 2023 morning: 124.4 lb
January 10th, 2023. Day 10/ Unknown
And we’re on Day 10. In many ways it doesn’t seem like 10 days (9 actually) have passed, and in many other ways I feel I’ve been constantly struggling with some form of nausea this time (v/s the last two times I fasted).
Maybe it’s the lack of sun & earth, maybe it’s not being in nature, maybe it’s all the work on screen, or maybe it’s a mix of them all. I’m not sure. The one thing I am sure of though is that this has been the toughest fast of the three.
I’ve been considering stopping the water-only, and shifting to a juice-based fast for a week. It’s mostly because of the nausea. I feel fine in terms of energy, I don’t feel weak. I can go for walks (last afternoon we walked around the neighborhood). However, the moment I drink water, my stomach starts pulling me down.
I remember in the previous fasts the need for water did go down, but it wasn’t difficult to keep the water in. This time around I find myself being thirsty, but I delay drinking water, because I know the moment I do – even a few sips – the nausea starts.
I stopped the 0 calorie, 0 sugar, vitamin induced drinks, after the 2nd bottle because I realized that they were probably activating my digestive system & so the bile production was creating a problem. And I think I was right about it. Because after that the bile hasn’t created any issue.
However, I don’t know what to do about the nausea that starts the moment I drink water – I can’t stop drinking water! Maybe this is my body speaking to me.
My intentions going into the fast were – a deep physical cleanse, cultivating determination, fine-tuning my intuition, and letting go. I’m now in the third phase of the fast, this is where deep cleanse happens. Don’t get me started on determination – it’s one of the biggest factors that’s kept me on this time!
I think experimenting with things like the bottled drinks etc, & then stopping them was intuition led – listening in to what’s happening within, what my being is saying to me. And my considering a juice fast is me willing to let go.
As I write this I feel happy and content with myself. I’d like to do up to 16 days (the third phase is 8 – 16 days), but I’ll see what feedback I get from my body on a day-to-day basis. Let’s see. Insha’Allah!
January 11th, 2023. Day 11/ Unknown
I’m journaling the evening of 11th. So today I’ll write about both days combined. Until yesterday, I was very seriously considering stopping water-only & moving to juices because my body wasn’t keeping down water.
Two of the intentions I brought into this fast were listening in to my body, & letting go. I could see the discomfort my body was going through – the continual nausea & inability to keep down water – despite the energy system being stabilized, and so I wondered if it would really be able to do the healing work when in such duress.
My main hesitation was – what if this is a healing crisis? So yesterday I paused all work that I could – I enjoy my one-on-one conversations with the women I work with & they’re nurturing for me, but other than one-on-ones, I just paused everything else even though there were moments I felt a little better & thought I could work – my intention was to reduce all external effort that I possibly could in order to support my body.
The nausea continued, as did the no-water cycle. Late last night I felt called to write down something, which then shifted to drawing, and then to painting. The place where I keep my stationary is also the place where we have a small altar with pieces that are sacred to us – Zishan & me.
I offered a prayer to all the guides I believe in, and all those I’m not even aware of, to guide me to understand whether this is my body saying stop, or a healing crisis. And then I painted with as much of an empty, agenda-less mind as possible – painting colors in the way that called to me.
Carl Jung talks about such practices, where we let go of the “thinking/ logical/ analytical” mind, & allow ourselves to do what seems to be calling to us, even if it seems like gibberish. He says this is a platform for our unconscious to talk to us.
According to depth psychology based dream interpretation, only the dreamer can interpret the dream. The same is true for messages from the unconscious.
For me, the message was loud & clear – there’s energy (the orange-red), there’s life & nourishment (the green), and then there’s a root cause of issues (the eye like thing in black & white at the bottom right) from where all my health problems arise. This root of issues, for me, is my digestive system.
I’ve struggled with binge eating all my life. In some phases, for some durations, there have also been a few symptoms of bulimia nervosa. My diabetes, while had genetic pre-disposition, was triggered by my eating habits.
And then, out of this root issue, one strand has come up, & is stuck in a whirlwind like pattern (top center, the white circular thing) – which is where I was for the last few days – stuck in the nausea & inability to keep down water, and now, there’s a way that’s coming out of there (the white thread coming out of the circle).
Now, you can choose to believe/ not believe what you want. I can’t say for sure what exactly happened, but something got resolved in this entire process, because today morning when I got up I was able to drink water without any issues!
And as I write this, I think the purpose of this fast has been met – there’s been clear physical healing, I maintained my determination despite all the roughness, followed my intuition – thereby, giving it power to strengthen, and I’m now willing to let go. Wow. I’m truly amazed in this moment?
I can hear one of my “ego” parts (I’ve put it in quotes because usually ego has a negative connotation – for me anything that has an I is ego, & it’s neither good nor bad) revolt – the one that wanted to do it “longer than 21 days”, & that believes “I’d be a loser if I didn’t”!
What a beautiful opportunity this is for me to let it go?
Even now I hear a part in me saying, “Okay, so do till Day 16 at least.” But I can hear my wise self saying that the processing that was needed for me this time around is done.
I’ll now take the next couple days to plan how I want to integrate these learnings into my day-to-day, and then transition the long water-fast to about a week long juice & soups fast – which will also be a part of my re-feeding process.
This (picture of me on the right/ above – it’ll depend on the device you’re on) was today – it was a bright day, with the sun out & warm for a change!
Zishan & I took this opportunity to walk around in the Community Garden, getting some much needed vitamin-D & the fire element in!
Today, again, I was easy on my body – I’ve paused my Nalanda Masters classes, paused writing my blog articles, paused everything else except my one-on-ones & some bare minimum Mindbloom work.
And, of course, I’m continuing writing this journal. This journal in & of itself has been an important part for me to reflect on my own tendencies & mindsets.
Today someone asked me, “Don’t you find yourself getting irritated/ annoyed since you’re probably hungry?” I said, “Yeah, absolutely! There’s more sensitivity to what I want/ don’t want.” And these are nothing but my deeper tendencies magnified through a long fast.
To me, especially this time around I realize, a long water-fast is much more about inner-work than anything else. If you’re intentional & you allow it to be, it can become the ripe platform for you to dig deeper into your subtle & not so subtle tendencies (causes of your suffering).
The only way to change your suffering is to first be able to see it, and a process like long fasting, or retreating in the dark, brings it all out from the deep depths of unconscious to your conscious mind. And if you’re willing to see & listen, it usually puts it right “in your face”!
Lastly, I’d like to bring your attention to my weight loss over the last 10 days, & how over the last two days it has drastically slowed down. For the first 8 days or so I was losing about 1 pound+ a day. And now, in the last two days my weight’s dropped by a mere 0.4 pounds. This is body’s wisdom.
You don’t keep losing weight at the same pace throughout fasting. The body pauses the weight loss to stabilize itself at the new weight before allowing more weight loss. Isn’t that amazing!? Wonders of the body!
P.S. Weight, Jan 11th, 2023 morning: 124. lb
P.P.S. I thought I’ll share some green we’re cultivating in the house despite the temperatures in minus outside! There’s Aloe Vera, Pothos, Christmas Cactus, Hyacinth, an attempt to germinate Bodhi Tree seeds, Curry Plant, and then three young siblings (saplings!) I don’t know names of (on the right most corner)!
January 12th, 2023. Day 12/ Unknown
Last night, as usually begins to happen in long water-only fasts, my sleep got short-cycled. This means, I can’t sleep throughout for 8 hours, I sleep (deep sleep with vivid dreams, I get up feeling rested) in chunks of 2-4 hours at a time, and then lay awake in the bed, only to fall asleep again after a couple hours for another chunk!
The first half of today was a lot of calls & conversations. I was able to drink a liter of water in the first half of the day itself. But then the day itself was quite grey & dreary today. Combined with the general lack of sun, it made me feel not great. I missed the times during my last fast where I’d go out & walk in the sun.
I’m going to transition into juice/ soup fast on Saturday – it’s logistically convenient as we get our grocery on Saturdays. But I won’t lie, I was tempted to juice out an apple today given the dull, cold day!
Rest, nothing new. My body mostly feels at equilibrium. And I’m grateful to be able to drink water again!
January 15th, 2023.
Jan.12th & 13th were pretty cold! The cold made me reconsider whether I should do juices because fruit juices aren’t typically warm per se. And so I decided to be on soups of a week. And that’s exactly what I transitioned into on 13th evening.
I was very cold on 13th, I was trying to hold on to my ego self of “I can’t let go.”, and so I decided to let go, & opened up my water fast into soups. This week will be all about soups. I’ll also start with solid fruits, maybe 2 days from now. And then the next week will be back to usual business!
Wow. This fast, while it was tough on my body, it provided a lot of nourishment to my being – my thought processes, ideologies, perspectives. Here are 7 reflection points from the past 14 days:
1. Being intentional about your intentions makes a huge difference on what you take away from the experience.
2. Your physical environment goes a long way in how supported your body & mind feel during a fast – I’ll talk more to this point in the next few points.
3. The Sun plays a vital role in sustaining a fast – while your body temperature may stay low during a fast, however, being able to be out under the sun enables your body to gather heat which cannot be compensated for by central heating (which is what we have in our house), in my experience.
4. Nature! Being able to go out in nature – just going out in a hospitable environment (a.k.a. for me, it should not be too cold!) Every time I went out during the fast I could feel a burst of energy, however, I couldn’t stay out for long because it was really cold!
5. Being able to lay down on Earth – bare Earth. Last time, just lying down in the garden, under the sun, would revitalize me. This time, I felt my body needed to support itself in isolation.
6. Bringing the above three points together – these elements that make up our body our extremely crucial for us & are always supporting us even though we’re unaware of their workings.
7. My sense of smell! It was heightened to the extent that I could smell even the faintest of smells others around me couldn’t. And as soon as I had my first meal/ soup, the keenness vanished into thin air! I wonder what it is about not eating & heightened sense of smell.
Bonus: I haven’t put this as a new point because I keep repeating this, and yet, I feel it isn’t understood well enough – at the end of the day, IT’S ALL A MIND GAME. My intention was to let go & not hold on o my ego that says, “power through”, so I did that. Had my intention been, “power through”, I’d have done that too! It’s all in the mind!
P.S. It is important to develop complimentary attributes, for instance, if you have a strong will power that helps you power through no matter what, develop the ability to let go. If you find yourself letting go of things easily, develop a stronger will power to stay put no matter what.
Post this fast, I want to strengthen a few resolves this year:
1. No buying any over-processed packaged food (for eg., cheese, olives are okay; chips not so much)
2. Fast Five as a way of life, used strategically such that it doesn’t take away from my social life.
3. NO refined sugar.
4. Eating my one main meal with full awareness & attention to the meal.
5. Cooking oil-free, adding fats (cashew cream, almond cream, ghee, cheese, avocado, etc) post cooking.
6. As a general rule, be gluten free.
7. Allowing myself to eat WHATEVER (once in a while) I want in that one meal.