The beginning of my juice fast is making me feel sad. Beyond basic hunger, the soothing feeling of food is near gone. I have a small carb-centric meal in the morning then I juice 32 oz worth of fruits and vegetables to sustain me, along with my intake of 104 oz (13 glasses) of water, throughout the day. The first thing I’m disappointed to realize is that food is the only thing that soothes me. Most of the thoughts my mind visits over the next 16 hours of wakefulness are not comforts that replace the desire to eat—a desire that persists even without stomach pains.
I watch pizza show after pizza show on youtube and imagine every bit of olive oil and milky mozzarella sliding down my tongue with fresh basil and savory sweet tomato sauce. The bread pushes back ever so gently as I sink my teeth into it and sink my lips into the juices on top of it.
Before my fast started, I watched shows about people afraid to eat for whatever reason and their restraint astonished me—that they could appear to be normal people who in reality were torturing themselves towards an undefined, early date of demise—wasting away gradually and not perceptibly enough to make them stop until it is too late. Do they feel what I feel now? I feel uncertain that I’ll make it through the day and the only thing keeping me together is knowing that the next morning when I wake up, I won’t be hungry at all because I ate just enough food and drank just enough green juice and water to hold me over until I could lay perfectly still for 8 hours without needing any sustenance.
Three days into the fast and I no longer feel sad. I feel a resurgence of passion for food that I do not recall the last time I’ve had. I look forward to eating because I know I’ll be hungry right before I eat it. My one true meal is what I think about all day long until I get to it in the morning. I plan for it. Initially, I planned a day ahead but then a couple of days in, I have every meal planned for the rest of the week. My meals are reaching professional culinary proportions—at least making guacamole seems so to me.
Saturday, I’m going to make mushroom and cauliflower soup. I recently decided to add taro, but it’s poisonous so I task my husband with letting me know when to stop boiling it. Is insanity like this? Does an obsession take over all other reality? Or, am I just hungry? Maybe both. I’ve lost 6 pounds in 5 days and my favorite jeans are now my favorite jeans again. While cooking, I imagine it would make a good youtube video. I imagine that I could make a living off of people watching me fumble my way through learning how to prepare for myself exactly what is best for me to eat.
I don’t want to weigh 180 anymore. I’ve never been more than 165 for more than three decades. Why do I have to give into what is assumedly inevitable for other people? I care. Taking a long time to stand up or fearing sitting down because it will take a lot to get up again is not my idea of the good life.
I have fasted four times before. The first time, I was in the Peace Corps in Cote d’Ivoire and I wanted to sympathize with the Jula, Senoufo, Mossi, and other Muslim ethnicities there that forged through the Fast of Ramadan once a month, every year. One meal just before sunrise, another meal just after sunset, break your fast with water both times, and do not eat or drink any water throughout the day. I lasted two weeks until Thanksgiving and I thought I could restart the fast thereafter. It did not happen. I had already gotten the real benefit of my fasting experience by then—appreciation. The second time, I lasted for one month. The third time, I just kept going for half a year until one day my mind switched on and clearly told me, “You don’t need to do this anymore.” I felt so good for those 6 months. Everything that I ate had a purpose and I could feel it in my body. Nothing went to waste. The amount that I ate every day was just enough. I felt strong and I was going for runs daily even.
But, now I’m feeling unsure this fourth time. I’ve gone a bit extreme—no second meal just after sunset. I don’t know if these rushing feelings to down something quickly are feelings I should push through or feelings that are warning me I’ve pushed myself too far. So, I break and eat twice today along with my green juice. And, I want to eat more. But, again, I just want to eat more. I’m not actually hungry now. My energy has increased. However, I miss that feeling of a good taste—something I know will automatically make me feel happy, in that moment, to be alive because in this moment I’m not sure I’m happy to be alive when all I am is hungry. And, still, I cannot tell the difference between what I want and what I need. I’m not sure if this fast this time is making me appreciate the basic things in life or it is just making me feel basic. Are needs better than wants and does that play out in the same way on macro and micro scales? Why am I juxtaposing the two? Perhaps, if I keep going, I will find out—meaning, doing everything I can to keep myself alive.