Go Fast. Or why you should not eat.


It was Monday and I found a new way to dread Mondays.

I would not eat food on Mondays, I’d fast. I’d allow myself some water with lemon in it or maybe a green tea, but that was it. After dinner on Sunday night till breakfast Tuesday morning, no food.

I stumbled upon the practice of fasting while in the hospital recovering from injuries from the avalanche beat down. The winemaker at the winery I was working at came to visit me in the hospital. He brought a bunch of goodies from all the people at work.

Among the “Get Well Soon” cards and books was a Harper’s magazine. The cover article was titled “Starving your way to vigor”. It was an in depth look at the health benefits of fasting.

I was only vaguely familiar with fasting at the time. I thought it had something to do with religion. On certain days the faithful weren’t supposed to eat food from the time the sun went down until it came back up. Or something like that.

I’m not religious so I never paid much attention to it. But I am interested in living a happy and healthy life, so the article caught my attention. Plus my face was broken, mouth was wired shut, and I couldn’t sleep because of the pain I was in, so I read the article on fasting.

Turns out the human body is designed to go long periods without any food. Not only can it go without food, the body actually heals and repairs itself when it doesn’t have to waste that energy digesting food.

By not eating anything, you can greatly improve your health.

I was blown away.

I’d never thought of anything like it before, but it made sense. Our bodies developed thousands of years ago, maybe hundreds of thousands, long before there were fast food restaurants and supermarkets on every corner and Twinkies at every checkout isle.

Our bodies developed when we had to kill what we wanted to eat. If we didn’t kill anything then we didn’t eat anything. Sometimes we didn’t eat anything for days and weeks. The human body adapted to the sporadic nature of our caloric intake.

This was all far out to me. I’d always had at least 3 meals a day; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The concept of not eating was crazy.

After the avalanche I had many surgeries and took a shit ton of x-rays and a shit ton of chemicals to keep me alive. I figured my body was full of toxins.

This fasting thing seemed like a good way to wash my insides clean.

Once I got healthy enough to go back to work I gave fasting a try. My original goal was to go 2 days without eating. After the second day, we had a cookout at work. I didn’t want to miss the cookout so I planned a simple 2 day fast.

I ended up fasting for 3 days. After my first day of not eating I found out that I’d misjudged the day of the cookout at work, it was a day later than I thought. Since I’d already started the fast with the goal of ending it at the cookout, I decided to stick to my plan. My 2 day fast became a 3 day fast.

The fast sucked.

I love to eat. I live by myself and get bored so I go to the fridge and start eating because I have nothing else to do. During the fast I found myself with all this extra time on my hands because I wasn’t cooking or eating food.

Fasting made me a little sad because I’d never gone without food before.

I thought about my thoughts towards food. I realized I ate for more reasons than just to sustain life. Not eating left a lot of time for thinking.

I didn’t tell anyone that I was fasting. The idea is so foreign to most people that I didn’t want to spend a lot of time explaining my reasons to everyone who thought I was crazy.

During the fast my energy levels decreased slightly. I felt a bit lethargic. There were many times I doubted I could make it to the end of my planned fast.

I was hoping that my body was using this time to get all the crap that accumulated in my tissues after the surgeries, out of my body. That was my hope but I had no way of knowing if it worked.

Once the 3 days were over and the cookout at work commenced, I chowed down.

That was a bad idea.

After not eating for 3 days, I think my stomach had shrunk a little. I piled my plate high with food like usual but my stomach couldn’t handle it. I had stomach aches for a few hours. If I were to do it again, I would have eaten a smaller amount to break the fast.

That was the one and only time I’ve fasted for 3 days. Apparently the largest health benefits of fasting occur during the 5th to the 7th day of a fast. I’ve never made it that long so I don’t know firsthand.

Since my initial trial with fasting I’ve done a multitude of 1 day fasts. For 2 years after that initial experience I’d fast one day a week, usually on Mondays. Not every week, but most weeks. But never on vacation. On vacation I like to eat recklessly.

It seems like a good idea to experiment with fasting. It’s a situation with little downside and a potentially large upside.

No one ever died going one day without eating food. By not eating you are at the very least giving your body one day of rest, like a mini-vacation. And everyone likes a vacation.

I recommend everyone to try a 1 day fast. I can’t hurt you. Of course I’m not a doctor so consult a medical professional before attempting.

A 1 day fast is not complicated. It takes discipline. You will think differently about your relationship with food while you are abstaining from it.

And who knows, you just might stumble upon enlightenment.

Or you might realize that you really like to eat and go to the refrigerator.

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