Is being hungry really all that awful?

I haven’t eaten in four days. It’s Thursday afternoon now. My last meal was Monday night.

I’m hungry. Right now, a great steak would sliiiiide down real well. Maybe with some chips, or some stir fried veggies – I love my greens! Some chocolate afterwards, sitting on the sofa, watching TV? Hell yes.

Instead, I’ll have nothing tonight. Not until tomorrow evening, when I break my fast.

I decided to do a four-day fast for a whole range of reasons, but one of the main reasons that I keep coming back to was I wanted to know: Is being hungry really all that awful?

Now I know the answer.

It’s one of those questions you never can know the answer to, not unless you try a longer fast yourself. Like riding a bike, you have to get on and do it.

I can’t remember what I had for dinner on Monday night, the last time I ate. You’d think I would be able to, but I can’t. I have the vague suspicion it was lamb roast, but don’t count on it. It might have been chicken.

Whatever it was, I know it filled me up, because I didn’t start to feel hungry until about midday Tuesday.

When, for the first time, I decided not to eat.

That decision was really interesting. I stopped at that point, thought about my hunger for a bit – the point at which I would normally had gone to the kitchen to fix myself some eggs, or some noodles, or maybe a sandwich – and decided not to eat.

I realised, with a shock, that I wasn’t ready to eat because I was actually truly hungry. I was ready to eat because my habits told me to eat.

My hands – not my stomach – needed something to do. My hands needed to put food in my mouth, even if my body didn’t need the food there.

Half an hour later, I wasn’t thinking about food any more. I carried on with my work. The day went on.

STARTING TO FEEL HUNGRY

Not surprisingly, I started to feel hungry again around dinnertime. My partner and I went for a drive to give the car a run, and within a few minutes again, distracted, I wasn’t hungry any more.

I was beginning to learn that my brain seemed to get much hungrier than my stomach!

We got home again, and I sat on the sofa and played a game on my phone while the family ate.

That night – Tuesday night – I slept better than I have in months.

A SECOND DAY OF FASTING

Wednesday morning, and I felt good. I was well rested, and not hungry at all. I’d expected to wake up ravenous, but that did not happen.

It’s true what they say about hunger coming in waves. It’s also true what they say about hunger passing after a while. And it’s true that being distracted helps a lot with hunger.

Wednesday wasn’t too bad at all. There were points when I was hungry, but not really any more hungry than I’ve experienced before in my lifetime. It’s not like it gets worse as you go on.

There are points in between the hunger waves – most of the time, in fact – when you just feel like you usually would. You don’t need to eat, and you don’t feel like you need to eat. You’re just getting on with your day, doing whatever you do (in my case, working from home), and everything is like ordinary.

DAY 3

So here I am on day 3. I know the answer about hunger. Hunger is really not that awful. It’s just another sensation that we in the well-fed West are not used to.

However, I’m in a luxurious position in time and space to be able to say that. While hunger isn’t a bad thing here and now, I have a choice in the matter. I know there is food in the house in plenty.

Any time I choose I can end my fast, go into the kitchen, and get something to eat. There is so much food available to me that I could stuff myself senseless. My hunger is a choice. Others through history have not had that choice. I’m fortunate to be able to choose to fast.

I know I will complete my fast. My first meal will be Friday evening as planned. I’ve learned a lot – about myself, my body, my mind, my habits. All of this would make a fast worthwhile, even without the physical benefits that fasting brings.

I am glad I’ve chosen to fast. I would recommend it to anyone who wanted to try it and is healthy. This is an experience that has been valuable to me, and that I paid nothing for.

I think it is making me a better person. I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow through this.

23 April: Day 3

It’s Day 3 of my four day fast.

I’m doing alright, but I’ve actually felt quite hungry today. I woke up this morning, and had a little bit of the shakes when I was first up, but they cleared and I was back to normal within a few minutes. I don’t know what that meant – it didn’t happen right away, it was a few minutes after I got up. Who knows?

It could just be that I was cold, but I figured I’d report them anyway.

Apart from that, my weight is down again. I’ve lost just over 4 kgs (8.8 pounds) so far on this fast, which is incredible. I never thought it was possible to drop so much weight in a week! Of course, a lot of that is water weight, and it’ll come back on, but I think a bit of it will stay off. Certainly it’s enough to make me think that fasting might be a seriously powerful tool for weight loss.

I’m managing to deal with being around food quite well. One thing I didn’t think about before starting on this path was how my children would react to seeing me not eating. My daughter (age 13) in particular is a bit worried about me, and I haven’t really explained what I am doing with her. I think I need to. I just said “I don’t want to eat right now” and haven’t explained it further. I’ll have to do that.

Part of me wants to go longer with this fast now than my intended plan of finishing up tomorrow evening, but I will stick with the plan, and have dinner tomorrow night. Then I will eat normally for at least two days. Then I’ll figure out what I intend to do next.

TWO DAY ALTERNATE FASTING – OR ONE, OR FOUR?

I haven’t really decided whether to go with two days on and off, or one day on and off (traditional alternate day fasting), or four days on and off at a time.

I’m actually thinking I’ll do two days at a time, mainly because it will make food preparation and management easier. By doing two days at a time, I can take advantage of buying multi-packs of meat, larger portions of vegetables and so on, and know that nothing will get wasted. I can also prepare a few meals at a time, and not have to worry so much about freezing food, which I would have to do with the more traditional day on, day off approach.

Apart from that, evidence seems to suggest that with a two day rotation, I’ll get deeper into ketosis, which I have had difficulty getting into in the past. I don’t think I’m insulin resistant – yet – but I certainly have had more problems getting into ketosis than my partner has.

I might see how I go with two days on and off, and see if that works for me. If I find that too difficult, then I’ll switch down to regular alternate day fasting.

PHOTO: Taken at our local park.

I’m thinking that four days at a time won’t work for me on a regular basis. Today (Day 3) I have noticed I’m not as mentally alert as I should be, and I did get the shakes a bit, which might not be a good thing. I want to challenge my body, but not too much.