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.
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.