The Difference Between Functional Fasting and Self-Inflicted Starvation

What’s happening between your ears.

That’s the difference.


Ok. Maybe that’s a bit harsh.

Let’s say it this way… the INTENTION behind not eating… that’s the difference.

One enhances health. The other can destroy it.

One is a personal health care decision. The other is a mental/psychological issue manifested by way of eating… or not eating.



I’ve taken a lot of heat in recent weeks since making it known that our 16-year old daughter has done a couple very short functional/therapeutic water fasts.

You’d think I had locked her up in a cage with no access to food, water, or the love of her family, for cryin’ out loud.

In reality, she has been observing her mother do several 5+ day functional fasts this year, as well as lead several groups of dozens & dozens of women through the same therapeutic process. She’s seeing and hearing about the incredible breakthroughs and transformations that result… and decided to give it a try.

Why? Because she secretly thought she was “too fat” and needed to starve herself to lose weight? Because her body image is skewed and she could think of no other way to address it?


Interestingly enough, she wants to improve her skin and knows that improving the health of her GUT is the most powerful way to improve the health of her skin.

She also knows that nothing can help completely reset gut health like a functional water fast AND properly executed re-feeding period post-fast… strategically loaded with fermented foods, organic grass-fed bone broth, and high quality full-fat foods. She knows that proper fasting can overhaul our microbiome, reset our DNA expression, increase stem cell production, improve brain function, reduce systemic inflammation and oxidative stress… and so much more.

Why does she know this? Because she lives with me and listens to me coach people through the process every. single. day.



So, she did her second 3-day water fast a few weeks ago.  Did she love it during the process? Not exactly. She IS a dramatic teenager, after all!

Daughter: “I think I’m dying!”

Mom: “I think you’re not. Have a sip of your salt water and go read a book.”

It  didn’t help that she did the fast immediately following a family vacation and subsequent sleepover at a friend’s house where she let her usual nutrition standards fall by the wayside. She was definitely not “fat adapted” heading into this fast! That doesn’t make water fasting impossible by any stretch… it just tends to make us more symptomatically *aware* of our transition from carbohydrate-addicted, toxic, inflamed sugar-burners into fat-burning ketosis phenoms.

She got a little bit hangry.

Whatever. You can’t out-attitude this mom.

I gave her plenty of opportunity to end her fast if she just wasn’t feelin’ the love. She was committed to completing 3 full days since she knows many of the benefits of autophagy tend to kick into higher gear around that time and after.  (The body cleans house and gets rid of old cells and proteins, etc.)

I appreciated her commiment.


What I’m also super-impressed by is her dedication POST-fast to a healthier diet.

Previously, when it came to food prep, she mostly had a fascination with desserts and baked goods… albeit with a healthier twist, most of the time.

Since fasting, she has been scouring the internet for recipes and meal ideas to keep her healthy fat intake high and her carb intake low. She’s been making fat bombs, power balls, high-fat shakes, keto-friendly breakfasts/brunches, and packing high fat snacks like olives and avocados for her long days at work, rather than her previous go-to snack of protein bars.


A typical “breakfast” (brunch) – high fat, low carb, moderate protein.


She’s also growing into the intermittent fasting routine quite nicely. The more often we eat (graze), the greater the likelihood of creating a seriously damaging insulin situation. She knows that and is finally taking responsibility for making appropriate changes. She’s not focusing on eating LESS… but eating LESS OFTEN. And when she eats, she’s trying to eat high fat, low carb, moderate protein, and insulin friendly foods. At least more often than she used to. Perfect!

All the folks who expressed concern over her starving herself need to step into my kitchen… and take a look at her grocery bills. This girl is a foodie.

She is a mentally stable, self-confident, well-adjusted, well-informed, God-loving, genuinely happy, intelligent and independent young lady.

Self-inflicted starvation isn’t her thing.

Periodic strategic, functional, therapeutic fasting and intermittent fasting for the purpose of dramatically improving her healthy cell function IS her thing.






If you’re interested in joining our private women’s fasting group on Facebook, let me know!



Dr. Colleen Trombley-VanHoogstraat (“Dr Mom Online”) is a popular personality in Natural Health & Wellness and is in her 24th year of active practice in Michigan, along with her husband Dr. Marc VanHoogstraat. She’s also the proud mom of two rather fabulous kiddos that she currently home schools. Her unique perspective of the science of Wellness provides predictable solutions and transformational results for those struggling with chronic health issues, as well as those seeking lifelong health. To discover her simple strategies for creating better health through nutrition, movement, mindset, cellular detoxification, and metabolic re-setting, jump on board as a regular reader of Dr Mom Online when you plug in your name and email address.

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