Fasting Feelings

7 min read
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At this moment, I have fasted for more than 72 hours. My blood pressure is 111/76, heart rate is 87, and blood sugar is 4.2 at 12:00 p.m. The previous day, my blood pressure was 113/71, heart rate was 78, and blood sugar was 4.2 at noon. Overall, my condition is very stable, except for excessive energy, cold hands and feet after 4:00 p.m., and occasional weakness during exercise.

I had been eating a lot of vegetables and high-protein, high-fat food for more than a month, and even though I reduced to two meals a day, I still felt too full at the end of the day. And eating was a bit of a hassle, as I had to start eating at regular intervals every day. Because I chose a low-carb diet, it was difficult to find the right tri-color vegetables alone. So I decided to stop for a few days without any specific planning, and when I feel really hungry and want to eat, then I will resume eating.

On the other hand, I also want to try to see what the concept of hunger really is. Since I was a child, three meals a day was considered a matter of course. When the time came, you needed to sit at the table whether you were hungry or not. I think there is something compulsory in it, but when you look deeper, it is not a time-honored tradition. When I was a child, I was sent to my uncle’s house in the countryside for the summer, and I had only two meals a day. I got up early in the morning and drove the cattle to graze, there was no breakfast at that time, only two pieces of boiled sweet potatoes. When the cows arrived at the ground and started to graze, the sun was already up high, so we sat down to eat the sweet potatoes, which was the first meal of the day. In the evening, the cattle back to the pen, wash their hands and eat a relatively hearty dinner. As for the middle of the day, sometimes we went into the water to feel the loach or eels, put them on the stone slab and roast them, and brought our own matches and salt, which was considered an afternoon tea, but not every day.

It seems that in those days, hunger was a very normal phenomenon, otherwise there would not be any Kaiseki cuisine. But in today’s hunger has become a disease that needs to be cured immediately, people should never be hungry, a little feeling to pour milk tea, eat snacks, chew snacks, is always to immediately dispel it, otherwise it will be sorry for this era of abundance as well. For this reason, there is also a large amount of food piled up in the refrigerator, coffee table and work station, just in case. When someone hears that I am fasting, they either express admiration or doubt my sanity. In short this counter-intuitive way of acting is greatly beyond what one would expect, and not eating is about as personal a feat/insanity as a marathon in this day and age.

I know that there is still this thing called “Purgatory”. There have been similar things since ancient times, when the Messiah fasted for 40 days in the desert and His Holiness did not eat for seven days and nights under the Bodhi tree, not to mention the annual month-long fasting by the followers of Muhammad. From the point of view of various schools of thought, both ancient and modern, there is no doubt that fasting is a necessity for spiritual purity. I, on the other hand, have no such need and have no opinion or uneasiness about the fact that my spirit is not dry and pure. But it is always a relief to myself that someone before me has done something similar. If one understands the prohibition as a daily routine, at least one’s heart will not rise up in sorrow.

But I didn’t take the way of Purgatory because I read some analysis that pointed out that after a person fasted for a long time, the body metabolizes mainly fat and protein, and fat metabolism produces keto acid, which is prone to acidosis. So people who fast need to maintain the acid-base balance in their bodies by using exhalation, or breathing, to cause alkalosis with hyperventilation, thus neutralizing the excess acid. And there is absolutely no need to do that today; I can take supplements and electrolytes without abdominal breathing and imagining a golden pile in the small of my back climbing up twelve flights of stairs or something like that.

In short, fasting is not as scary or serious as one might think. The so-called hunger is a tidal wave-like feeling that hits you at every mealtime. Then you may panic a little, because you expect the hunger will be like a typhoon blowing waves, one after another, one more violent than the other. But it doesn’t. After the mealtime, the so-called “hunger over” phenomenon will appear. The hunger will disappear like a tide, you should do what you can continue to do. And relatively speaking, you do not have the post-meal drowsiness, the mind becomes very clear, and people become very alert.

At the same time, this tide is not more violent day by day. Maybe the hunger will be stronger in the first one or two days, but after three days it becomes faint. As I am now, drinking tea and typing, casually almost 1,500 words, I don’t feel unbearable hunger. Some people send me many pictures of food to stimulate me, probably because they think it’s fun. But I have been fasting for more than 72 hours, at this time I am used to hunger coming and going, and feel that I have controlled the hunger, rather than hunger controlling me, so there is no special desire to face the food feeling. Instead, it’s that sense of stability within and inside that is more fascinating. People are not the same, feeling hunger and then going to eat food to relieve it is a pleasure for some people. I am no exception, but I discovered something else I cared about through fasting: my control over my hunger. Because I was able to control it, I was freed from being tied to the hunger-feeding process.

Of course when you get down to it I can’t really fast in a very strict sense, I can’t take anything orally except water. These days I bought some unsalted roasted peanuts and salt-roasted dried fruit, and when I was really hungry, I went to grab a small handful to eat. I don’t know if it’s the slow and little eating or the change from the fasting, but this time my face is acne-free and smooth to the present.

I hope that by fasting this time, I can break my previous habit of “eating when I’m hungry”. It is also possible to find a reasonable range of hunger, within which it is acceptable, without having to immediately anxiously search for food, or even throw a fit if you can’t find it. I think that if everyone could find and eat food very easily at all times, then reasonable dietary intake would be an empty phrase. Our bodies have adapted to being full, and to having to replenish a little bit of stock immediately. So, if possible, I would like to bring the body back to the old habit of part-time empty and part-time full.

That’s what I’m trying to tell you: hunger isn’t scary, and fasting isn’t great. I say cut one meal a day, and you scream about starvation. Well, now I’ve cut eight meals in a row to tell you that you’ve just become a believer in three meals a day without thinking, suffering from the compulsion to eat whenever you’re hungry. You are bound to ideas without ever thinking about where those ideas come from. Hunger never binds you, never forces you, never threatens you, it’s all about you.

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