What I Learned From Starving Myself For Three Days -

What I Learned From Starving Myself For Three Days

caribbean snapper


For as long as I can remember I have struggled

with my ability

to ever feel satiated.


pool snacks


The three months I spent walking every bit of cobblestone in Rome

The two weeks I toured Spain and Portugal

The years I sat behind a desk

“I’m hungry” were the words that most often left my lips.


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“Your appetite is the third person in our relationship.”

My ex used to say.


“You are piggy piggy.”

My friend the Italian chef often confirms.


cartagena cookies


And admittedly

I have been a member

for as long as I can remember

of the clean plate club.


pike place market


Frankly, I love food.


I love discussing it.

I love looking at it.

I love planning for it.

I love buying it.

I love preparing it.

I love eating it.


It is one of my greatest pleasures in life.


pupusa nicaragua


But recently

never feeling satisfied

I began to wonder

exactly what it was

I was hoping to fill.


puerto viejo farmer's market


For many of you it is no secret that the reason I stopped backpacking and returned to Puerto Viejo three months ago was in an attempt to restore my health. After a year of bi-monthly food poisoning and a lifetime of antibiotics, I felt run down.


My journey towards greater health these last few months has been eye opening and life changing, and also overwhelming and confusing. The moment I find something indisputably healthy, a nutrition blogger will tear it apart and explain why it kills you and gives you cancer.


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Let me add fear of food to my list of neuroses.


black bean mango salad


Instead of eliminating food that might be bad, because let’s face it sometimes that feels like everything and I am piggy piggy after all, I began adding things to nourish my body.



Green smoothies, coconut water, lemon ginger tea every morning.

Probiotic rich foods to rebuild my immune system.

And of course, the occasional four course dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant.


mercado central spices


I became obsessed with concocting healthy creations.

My kitchen transformed into a science lab.

I was elbow deep in coconut.

And for the first time in years I lasted three months without getting sick.


Still, I was curious to try a cleanse.


fruit bowl


Nevermind that in eliminating all grains almost entirely from my diet and eating 100% organic I had already embarked on a huge cleanse.


But I wanted sometime more intense.

Something more extreme.


nicaragua food market


So I began a fast.

ingesting nothing but coconut water

for five days

simply out of curiosity.


I lasted three.


chickpea salad


In fact

something I entered so lightly

was one of the most difficult experiences

I have ever endured.


pike place market fish


I felt nauseous most of the time.

My head continuously throbbed.

I became so depleted and depressed

that the thought of even getting out of bed

was too exhausting at times to fathom.


Granada, Nicaragua market


I became acutely aware of my hunger and its authenticity.

Noticing that often my mind fools my belly into thinking it needs food.


Because shockingly

after not eating for more than eighty hours

I did not feel hungry.


nicaragua bakery



what I felt

was empty.


Overwhelmed by an emptiness that I couldn’t fill with the comfort of food.

Unable to ignore my emotions with nothing inside of my stomach to quiet them.


masaya nicaragua


I felt alone.

I felt isolated.


Emilio's Cafe Manuel Antonio


And as dramatic as this may sound

the second night

I went to bed wondering

if I might die.


Scared to not eat

but even more scared to eat.

Wondering if I might ever eat



Emilio's Cafe Manuel Antonio


On the fourth day I decided to stop.


Can I say that this cleanse did wonders for my health?

At this point I have no idea.


bread and chocolate puerto viejo


Today I feel less energy and drive than I have felt in months.

I feel like I’ve broken the routine that led me towards wellness.

I find myself beginning to obsess over the cleanliness of what I put into my body.


Granada, Nicaragua fruit market


What I can tell you instead

is that what I learned was invaluable.


That while food is one of the greatest pleasures in the world

it isn’t everything.


It can’t be everything.


Jardin del Parque


And that even the cleanest of foods

even the healthiest of foods

can become an excessive means of distraction.


San Jose mercado central


So the next time I feel dissatisfied

maybe I’ll stop for a minute and examine my life

rather than the inside of my refrigerator


mercado central sorbetto


and fill myself

with something

that even starvation

can’t take away.


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  1. Wow. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Camille, I am a member of the Clean Plate, too! And yes, I absolutely agree on the fact that one must look on the inside instead of on the food to fill the void.
    I am utterly in love with your blog and your storytelling style. I think you are an artist in every way, and I am grateful for having found your blog. :) Thanks for this post!!!

  3. William Rebert Says: August 8, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    I too am a clean plate member. I try to use exercise to control my weight and it seems to work. I try to eat healthy and natural. I don’t feel you have to be obsessive about food. Eat it , enjoy it , live it. It’s one of life’s true pleasures.

    • Great point William. So often we become obsessive about something “bad” and then it strips the enjoyment out of the whole process. Something I definitely witness in this experiment is that we do not just eat for our bodies. We eat for all sorts of layers of ourselves and that’s not always a bad thing. Eating is social, eating is comforting, eating can be blissful. But sometimes us food lovers need to remember there is more to life 😉

  4. Beautiful post :) Namaste and may you fast again one day!

  5. Wow how awesome! Just within the past year I had started eating organic and cut lots of things out of my diet. Unfortunately never reaching the no grains. But now my husband and I live abroad with no kitchen and I find it difficult to eat healthy still. How do you still eat organic and healthy while traveling?

    • This American Girl Says: November 28, 2013 at 2:57 am

      Katelyn it is very challenging without a kitchen! The first thing I do is always research if a town I’m traveling to has organic, health conscious cafes and seek those places out. If it doesn’t, I stick to young coconuts and fruit smoothies (no sugar, no milk) for breakfast and try to have lots of steamed vegetables with lunch and dinner. I also travel with my own bee pollen, spirulina, water kefir, chlorella, activated charcoal, grapefruit seed extract, and enema bag. I plan to write a post soon about my travel “wellness kit”.

  6. Annemarie Says: March 10, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    This is again, another beautiful post. Thanks for making me aware that more people struggle with, and think about the same things as i do. :). Have a healthy day!

  7. alison hamilton Says: May 20, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Truly a wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing…..im going through such a similar journey at the moment and it means so much to feel not so ‘isolated’ :) thanks!

  8. […] water kefir I traveled with kept me healthy and safe from food poisoning. My coconut water fast from months prior made my blood no longer appealing to mosquitoes and I was practically bite free […]

  9. […] the coconut water fast I ingested only coconut water, purified water, and tea for several days. Allegedly in doing so you […]

  10. Interesting stuff about the coconut water detox type thing… I’ve done a 1-day of something similar after having felt really groggy and indulging on too many foodie delights after arriving back in the UK (by that I mean rich cheeses and crusty wholegrain breads). I felt a lot better after one day, but I think 2 or more would’ve been awful! I can imagine I would’ve been feeling really lightheaded.

    I think the main thing is though, you’re right, about eating the things that you body needs to keep healthy and not seeing food as something to fill a void.

    • Camille Willemain Says: November 23, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      Absolutely. It’s better to ease in an out of it, so go from raw veggies and fruits to juices to coconut after the cheese and bread 😉

  11. […] last two months in Europe I let my previous ideas about health go out the window. Where I once did cleanses, preached about super greens, and refused to consume grains or processed sugar, I decided to work […]

  12. hunger is a form of dissatisfaction in life. One can go a month without eating. I once went on a 5 day fast, on the fourth I felt like a child again in the sense that I was happy and full of energy (even though it was an illusion because I hadn’t eaten in four days but mentally it felt great). I’ve yet to feel that way again, all the dieting of healthy foods or binging on bad food. Of course it helps because in the back of your mind you know that there is food in the fridge unlike real starving people who dont know if they will be eating this week (then it plays a negative toll on your mind). Anyhow, long story short – I find food is a form of dissatisfaction if you’re overeating.

  13. Diane Carmichael Says: June 18, 2017 at 7:06 am

    Enjoyed the article!