I told my brother that I fasted yesterday—or, more accurately, that I severely limited my eating to about 500 calories’ worth of food.
His response: “Why, were you sick? You couldn’t keep anything down?”
Which might demonstrate how much food means to my family. Or maybe it demonstrates how familiar my brother is with how much food means to me…
In point of fact, I was not sick yesterday. I actually did not eat on purpose.
That’s right. I chose to not eat. (Technically it’s more accurate to say, “I chose to eat only 500 calories,” but that doesn’t sound nearly as dramatic as “I chose to not eat.”)
There’s this book, “The FastDiet,” which espouses the weight loss and other health benefits of intermittent fasting. I first read about it in the New York Times, which discussed the book’s popularity in the authors’ home country of England. Though the article really does a better job of explaining it, essentially, one of the authors is a physician who experimented with different modes of fasting and found that:
- Fasting proved an effective, flexible, and sustainable method of weight loss and management; and
- Research has reportedly shown—at least in mice, rhesus monkeys, and small-scale studies involving humans—that fasting provides other health benefits, include longer lifespan, reduced body fat percentage, decreased chance of diabetes and cancer, etc.
Being a true liberal, the idea of voluntarily refraining from food had never even crossed my mind until I read about it in the New York Times. But once I saw that the Times was talking about it, I started thinking, “Surely this idea has merit… ” I will note here that the Times was not necessarily promoting fasting; indeed, being a reputable journalistic enterprise, it took care to quote an expert or two who contended the long-term health benefits of fasting have not necessarily been borne out.
But who cared about the long-term health benefits? I was collecting back fat like it was going out of style. Surely the discipline of fasting would melt away those excess pounds. Which is how yesterday found me fasting. (We will conveniently ignore the fact that, despite having previously failed at the disciplines of Counting Calories, Exercising Regularly, Not Eating After 8 PM, Refraining from Second Helpings, and Turning Down Dessert, I thought not eating at all would be a significantly easier undertaking.)
Before I get into discussing the actual experience, can I just point out the absurdity of this? I mean, people are starving in some parts of the world. There are countless children who go to bed hungry every night. And I am voluntarily refraining from eating, restricting my caloric intake on a whim… so I can lose weight?
It reminds me a bit of the story my intern told me about her study-abroad semester in Kenya, when she told her host family that she was a vegetarian. Apparently their response was along the lines of: “Wait, what? You don’t eat meat? On purpose??”
And so, yes, I didn’t eat yesterday on purpose. It kind of makes you think about what a ridiculous, oddly indulgent person you can become when you aren’t fighting for mere survival but instead enjoy the luxuries of excess money, time and back fat.
Stay tuned for the next post, wherein I fast despite the First World indulgence of it, and discover that fasting sucks.