Saturday, April 9, 2011

From Feast to Fast

        I baked some delicious chocolate chip cookies. They were so good that I ate too many. Whoops. I was a bit disgusted with myself. I'm never hungry. I just always have an appetite. I love food. This contrasts with Eliott, who only eats because he has to in order to survive.
        El and I went to the library. I walked around, looking at all the people, but then a book popped out at me. It was called "HUNGER: An Unnatural History." I picked it off the shelf and sat down. The first half of the book was about what it's like to fast for various amounts of time. I had been thinking about fasting, and this was my motivation. I decided that my last meal would be in Chinatown the next day.
        Walking back, El and I parted as he went to Dunkin to meet up with some friends. Not even two minutes passed and Akiva, a guy I met a few weeks ago, yelled my name. What a wonderful surprise. I had been thinking about him. He only lives a couple streets away, but we had never gotten each other's contact information.
        He told me he was going to pick up Chinese food and asked me to join him. What a coincidence. I couldn't believe it, but, lucky for me, it was real. So, I had a delicious night as well as some fun conversation.
        Akiva drove me home. El had bought some tabouli and pita from the nearby Mediterranean cafe. I wanted to start my fast at midnight since I already had the Chinese feast, so I tried some tabouli really quick, and El put together some ice cream and chocolate soy milk for me too. I was satiated.
        El wanted to know why I was going to fast. I planned for seven days, and he was frightened that he was watching someone become anorexic right before his eyes. I assured him that wasn't the case, but instead it was a way to test myself and see if I could have a clearer mind if the idea of food was no longer popping up all the time. I had become slightly disgusted by my gluttony and needed to set things straight.
        The next day, I tried distracting myself with my computer and also had two interviews for day cares in the area, one being Montessori. My physical body felt fine without food - probably because it was still digesting everything from the night before. After the last interview, I walked around Englewood a bit to check out the various restaurants for waitressing positions. Food was everywhere. My brain wanted the stimulus, but I wouldn't allow it.
        On day two, I headed to my gynecologist appointment. When the nurse took my blood, it was a good thing my stomach was empty because she could then also test for my carb, protein, and iron levels too. On the way back home, I stopped at my new friend, Cedrick's, apartment. He had commented on my hair as we were both walking down the sidewalk the day before. He's from Congo, so me being big into the internationals, we exchanged numbers. His original language is French, so I hope to practice around him. Interestingly enough, he lives right at the end of my street. He had a delicious lunch cooking, but I just tried to ignore the torment going on in my brain once again and filled out the application he brought me from the nursing home he works at. In the afternoon, I started feeling the physical implications of the fast. My stomach was gurgling, and when El and I went for a walk, my legs felt weak. Later on into the night, my stomach felt discomfort and I was fatigued. El's old friend, Sam, came over. He told me he did a ten day fast. He had done a lot of research beforehand, so he had eaten lots of fruits the days prior and drank juice during the fast. That inspired me to do a little more research too.
        Today was day three. My aunt had called me yesterday to tell me that she was visiting my grandfather at his nursing home in Queens. I decided that I'd make the 2 hour+ journey out there to see her, my grandmother, and gramps. I knew I needed energy to make the trip so I bought some juice. I also knew that there would be plenty of food from my family that I would have to refuse. It was true. I almost gave in. The bagel was certainly tempting. Cedrick called me after I left the nursing home and asked to hang out on Tuesday. My aunt said I should visit the Botanical Gardens at this time of year, so we decided that we will head to Brooklyn. Cedrick also invited me for some African food in Manhattan for dinner, but I had to refuse, since I wasn't letting myself eat until Thursday.
        I thought more and more about this whole fasting thing. What was I really trying to accomplish? Would not eating really make thoughts of food go away? It seems like I was just being sadistic to myself and clogging my head with desire even more. In fact, my stomach is grumbling as I type this. So, why shouldn't I enjoy the pleasures of life - one of those being food? (COMMENTS WELCOME) I'm not overweight, and I'm in good health. I suppose what I was really doing was punishing myself for eating all those cookies. I know I can go the full seven days, but I've decided that three is enough. I will enjoy myself on Tuesday. And I will enjoy myself at midnight with some dumplings. I've also decided that I'm going to start eating vegan again, not completely strict, but enough where I feel healthy and merciful toward animals again.
        It's great to live and not starve, to have so many options around, but these things can be the downfall of us if we do not keep in check what exactly we are contaminating our bodies with and especially how much. I think these three days have been rewarding. I have been able to contemplate food in a whole new way and understand how lucky I am to have food in the fridge downstairs. I guess I do feel like a quitter, since I did set the goal for seven days, but so be it.
        If anyone has experience fasting and has discovered more from it than I have, then by all means, comment below. I'm interested in the spiritual aspect of a fast. Perhaps, in the future, I will try another fast, for this reason. And perhaps, the thoughts of food wouldn't run through my mind after a longer period of time. Perhaps, I'd just get used to it.


  1. I searched for your blog after seeing the video from your valedictorian speech.. I must say it was pretty amazing, good for you and congrats! I'm elated to hear about your recent experiments with fasting. I've fasted for a total of 2 days, my intentions were sincerely directed towards getting closer to Christ. It was such an amazing experience. I had also fasted in vain, and the experience was much different then that of my first. The difference was grace! Are you a spiritual person? Really I should be asking; Do you have a relationship with Christ?

  2. i don't think it's a question about why you shouldn't enjoy the pleasures of life. from my perspective, i agree with a sentiment that you posted: it's a question of not letting those things control you or becoming too big of a part of your life. that's why i set out some weeks ago on my own kind of personal journey of what i'm calling 'life without'. each week i take something different and see if i can live my life without it. email, facebook, meat, and more.

    for me it's an effort to identify those things that command the most attention in my life but really provide little value. i want to see what's really necessary, and try to remove those things that aren't. beauty lies in simplicity.

    if you're interested, there's much more on my blog, including wrap-ups of each experiment:

  3. Foregoing some of life's pleasures has long been seen as beneficial, which I assume is why pretty much all religions have worked it into their teachings. For me (as an irreligious person) it's just about self-discipline. Basically, if you always give in to your every whim, then how do you know how strong-minded you are?

    There also seems to be a fine line between self-discipline and self-flagellation that you need to watch out for! If it's torture then you're either being overzealous or you've found something that you are unhealthily attached to. (Like if you took a kids iPhone away... )

    With regards to not thinking about food when you're fasting, I doubt that's possible, purely because food is something your body needs to survive and the power of the mind can't quite overcome the power of biology - as you would find out if you ever tried to relinquish use of the toilet for any considerable length of time...

    Good luck in your pursuit of happiness, anyway.



    (One of the chaps that 'liked' your blog post on Facebook)

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Hi Erica,
    I have been fasting and instructing others in fasting for years as an alternative practitioner of a traditional healing path. Fasting is always spiritual, as all things in life are. We may fail to observe or recognize this fact of life but it is never the less true. We are spiritual beings having a physical experience in our Earth bodies. We are not physical beings who can choose whether or not we want to be a spiritual being. All things are spiritual, and some are just not in physical, material form as well - like we are.

    Fasting is an ancient practice, obviously, and is in fact part of our whole evolutionary biochemical, physiological and anatomical make-up and reality. We were never meant to eat every day, no animal was. Visualize primitive humans migrating in clan groups between summer and winter homes. There would be stretches of the trail, especially in spring, where there would not be any food growing along the way - sometimes for days at a time. There were no options or opportunities to purchase or trade for food at a truck stop or convenience store or trading post in the earliest days of nomadic clan groups migratory existence.
    A fast by definition excludes all intake of food and drink except water. A dry fast, excluding even water, is sometimes used for purely spiritual purposes such as in a traditional Native American vision quest. A dry fast of 4 days, or so, will induce an altered state of consciousness which more easily facilitates visions and hallucinations.
    Fasting is very beneficial for one's health - physical, mental and spiritual health. The benefits are too numerous to list here but I will be happy to share more of this information later. The theory is that by excluding food for a number of days you allow your body to take the tremendous amount of energy required for the digestion of food and redirect that vital energy for healing or detoxifying the system and purging old biological and dietary wastes from our body tissues and intestinal tract. The benefits are not as great if you do a modified "juice only diet" kind of a fast from solid foods. Cessation of all digestion, even temporarily, makes a huge difference in a very short time. If one fasts beyond three days on just water, it is traditionally taught, that you will cleanse one year of accumulated wastes and stored toxins for every day you fast from day four on . . . .
    Even a beautiful woman like you will notice the improvement in your skin condition and your hair quality in just a short time. Often fasting for just a few days to a week will bring enough improvement to elicit spontaneous remarks from friends and aquaintances about the improvement they notice in how good you look. It is truly amazing. Especially if you use a traditional water for drinking during the fast. I can explain, if you are seriously interested in trying a real fast. If you do a fast, you need to set aside the time to do it. This is the right time of year to fast, but not if you are very busy. Fasting is a time to slow down and relax, turning inward for a more contemplative experience focusing on your body's many signals of change and healing. Jesus said to hide your fasting from others and that is, in fact, the conventional wisdom, to go on retreat, to withdraw, temporarily, from society and seek sweet spiritual succor from the delightful discipline of fasting. It is, indeed, best to remain in solitude and focus on prayer and contemplation of high ideals and ideas that you want to integrate into the very fibers of your being, both physical and spritual... pretty cool, huh? (to be continued below)

    Byron Jordan

  6. (continued from above)
    Here is a link to my own little blog on my Earth Medicine practice and teachings:
    If you are interested in learning more about fasting just let me know. I'm more than happy to share if information is wanted and appreciated. Just let me know....
    Are you familiar with the story of Julia Butterfly Hill who sat, (lived), in a giant Redwood tree for over two years as part of an organized campaign in an attempt to save the ancient Redwoods from being clear cut? Be sure to read the page entitled "Luna Stands as Living Proof!", I think you will enjoy it . . . .
    It is a pleasure to make your aquaintance. Please let me know if I can be of any further help in this pursuit of fasting knowledge.
    Byron Jordan

  7. .. i'm almost 32 and never even thought of trying such thing. So i'm grateful for this story of yours. One thing i learned about eating is simple - there's no real need for putting stuff into your self at the first feel of hunger. Getting through that initial phase will make your body adapt and activate actualy, and you'll be good to go for some more hours, without feeling hungry.
    This is just a little practical advice that the compulsive western mindset should welcome imo. With the prime rule of eating, remaining the same though - a sufficient, nutritiously complete callory intake every day.

    Btw, you are a true joy to read. :)

  8. I have not tried fasting... my concern with it would be that the body might do some things that you hadn't intended from the outset.

    I can imagine this scenario fairly clearly and I'll attempt to illustrate this in play format:

    I might think to myself:
    "You know? I'm the master of my mind and my body; I think I'll prove this by fasting..."

    My body:
    "Uh oh... what's this looney-tunes up to now?"

    "You know what sounds good? A coney... and some ice cream! Yeah! That sounds tasty. And some Chicken Marsala. Oh that would taste fantastic right about now."

    My Body:
    "Trying to function... his will is weak. He's never done this before... he'll give in soon. And when he does; just in case senior-bats tries this again, I'll be ready. I'll take all of that extra energy that I have... and I'll store it in high density format ."

    The law of unforeseen consequences in action.

  9. Please understand that I mean no disrespect. My earlier comments were meant to be humorous in nature.

  10. Can you get rid of the cursive so I can read this and the comments a little more fluently?


  11. Hi, Erica
    I´m in the process of writing an interesting book about the system. I don´t want to spill it out too much, but I think you are gonna like it, because in it a talk a lot about education indocrination and the media.
    If you are interestered in receiving a free copy, please email me at


  12. Very encouraging & ballsy to say what you did at your graduation!!! I've felt that way since my high school days about the powers-that-be but at the ripe age of 50 it's more likely your generation will be more successful at teaching that critical thinking is really the most important thing to learn (remember) - if we continue on with the education system in currently place... Keep it up and you have my support and cooperation!

  13. My wife has been talking about your speech. I finally saw it today. Kudos to you! I dropped out of college when I figured out I was going because of family expectations, and not my own reasons.

    I have been off caffeine for about a year and a half now, and have fasted once for a day. I drank only water that day, and no one knew I was fasting. It was a nice break, although by the end of the day, my stomach was letting me know its disappointment. By that evening, I wasn't truly hungry, although my mind kept telling me I should eat.

    After that day, I find myself thinking more often when I eat. "Am I really hungry?, or am I eating just because it's time?" I find myself eating smaller meals more often, and sometimes skipping a full dinner in exchange for a small snack instead. About twice a week, I eat a very big meal, but the days in between I try to eat much more reasonably.

    I'm glad you didn't end up going the whole seven days of a fast. From everything I have have read, and from what I know of how my own body reacts to things, a fast should be over when you and your body are in agreement. (Or true hunger returns.) Sticking to an arbitrary date is asking for trouble. Good luck!

  14. Greetings stranger-friend!

    I recommend juice fasting. If you don't have a juicer, you can find one for fairly cheap nowadays. I am on a mostly raw foods diet - though I don't believe in limiting myself in any way, I just find I feel most clear and spiritually "high" on this type of diet. Dairy and cooking oils sort of tip me over a wee bit.

    Another good cleanse/fast is the Master Cleanse (you can google it for the precise recipe) but you are consuming only a lemonade-y mixture with added maple syrup, cayenne pepper...and , something else. I forget.

    Maybe a regular fast with only herbal teas would be nice. Sometimes the heat from a hot cup of nettles, for example, is as satisfying as a warm meal.

    All the best to you - I was guided here from the speech you gave once upon a time which now lingers on youtube (and I'm glad it does!). I have clicked the little "follow" button up there, and I look forward to more and more and more from you.

    Be well.

    Namaste ∞

  15. Another beneficial cleanse/fast can be the Master Cleanse (you can search engines like google it for the precise recipe) but you are consuming only a lemonade-y mixture with additional maple syrup.
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