What I Learned From Starving Myself For Three Days - This American Girl

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.


arepas colombia


“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.


carne asada colombia



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.


Love it? Share it!