Early Hygienists said: when your tongue is clean, your rest peaceful, your skin clear, your eyes bright, there is no more pain, and you are very sharply hungry, you may select from the store of wholesome articles of food described in works of Hygiene, that which pleases you and eat with moderation.

That is sound advice, but hardly detailed enough. The usual indications for breaking the fast (these help to determine the dividing line between fasting and starving) areas follows:

  • Hunger invariably returns.
  • The breath, which during all or most of the fast has been offensive, becomes sweet and clean.
  • The tongue becomes clean. The thick coating which remained on it throughout most of the fast vanishes.
  • The temperature, which may have been subnormal or above normal, returns to exactly normal, where it remains.
  • The pulse becomes normal in time and rhythm.
  • The skin reactions and other reactions become normal.
  • The bad taste in the mouth ceases.
  • Salivary secretion becomes normal.
  • The eyes become bright and eye sight improves.
  • The excreta loses its odor. The urine becomes light.

Besides the usual signs that it is time to break the fast, Prof. Levanzin lists a feeling of cheer and elation as a manifestation that the time has arrived for the termination of the fast. I cannot do better than quote Carrington’s description of the feelings of the patient at this state. He says (Vitality, Fasting and Nutrition, p. 544), “A sudden and complete rejuvenation; a feeling of lightness, and good health steals over the patient in an irresistable wave, bringing contentment and a general feeling of well-being, and of the possession of a superabundance of animal spirits.” Circulation improves, as is seen by the resumption of the normal pinkness under the fingernails. The increased rapidity with which the blood flows back into the skin when this has been forced out by pressure, is another indication of the rejuvenating effect of the finished fast.”

The primary indication that the fast is to be broken is the return of hunger; all the other indications which I have enumerated are secondary. Often one or more of these secondary signs are absent when hunger returns, but one should not refrain from breaking the fast when there is an unmistakable demand for food, merely because the tongue, for example, is not clean. Inasmuch as all the signs do not invariably appear in each case, do not hesitate to break the fast when hunger returns.