What I Learned From Starving Myself For Three Days
For as long as I can remember I have struggled
with my ability
to ever feel satiated.
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.
“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.
I have been a member
for as long as I can remember
of the clean plate club.
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.
never feeling satisfied
I began to wonder
exactly what it was
I was hoping to fill.
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.
Let me add fear of food to my list of neuroses.
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.
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.
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.
So I began a fast.
ingesting nothing but coconut water
for five days
simply out of curiosity.
I lasted three.
something I entered so lightly
was one of the most difficult experiences
I have ever endured.
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.
I became acutely aware of my hunger and its authenticity.
Noticing that often my mind fools my belly into thinking it needs food.
after not eating for more than eighty hours
I did not feel hungry.
what I felt
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.
I felt alone.
I felt isolated.
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
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.
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.
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.
And that even the cleanest of foods
even the healthiest of foods
can become an excessive means of distraction.
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
and fill myself
that even starvation
can’t take away.