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March 2016

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I went without solid food for 72h and here’s what it was like

March 24, 2016
Hey lovelies,

After two 14-hour workdays and six days of being stuck in
bed with a cold and a massive headache, I’m finally going to tell you about how
I ACTUALLY COMPLETED the fasting challenge that I wrote about in my last post
(and I really need to work on blogging more consistently).
Being that the original idea of World Vision Austria was to
go without food and donate the saved money, I set myself two simple rules at
the beginning:
1.  No solid food.
2. No spending money.

Of course, contrary to all the recommendations to eat light
and avoid carbs and meat three or four days before a fast, I ate a big Sunday
brunch right before starting, because I am a rebel (and also because I live for
brunch). I had prosciutto and melon, cheese, hummus, croissants, Nutella, the
whole thing. So I was content and pretty stuffed when I started on my little
adventure. And this is how the following 72 hours went…
5h in: This is easy.
I’m not even hungry! I can totally do this. I am ready to rock!

6h in: I follow too
many food bloggers on Instagram. Wow. I think now is when I would normally have
dinner. But I can totally do this.

In between hours 6 and 8, I did some dishes, a bit of
general tidying up, and baked a loaf of banana bread for the office since my
bananas were looking dangerously spotty and I hate throwing away food. Of
course, this was an awful idea, because my apartment is pretty small and the
smell of banana-chocolate-chip yumminess spread EVERYWHERE rather quickly.
8h in: Starting to
feel hungry. Smell not helping. Tea. Tea is amazing.

On Sunday evening, I went to sleep pretty early (around 10)
and not feeling too hungry. This lasted for a while. Actually, maybe because of
the huge brunch I had had on Sunday, the first 24 hours really weren’t so bad
except for a few hunger pangs.
19h in: This is great.
I can totally do this. I am a winner. Yes!

Right around the time I hit 24 hours on Monday afternoon, I
started hallucinating all sorts of food smells. It didn’t help that my
colleagues were cooking a big team lunch for everyone. I may or may not have
had an oddly sexual daydream about a Big Mac and fries.
24h in: I miss
chewing.

25h in: Write some
syntax. Yes. I can do that. With the numbers. And the variables. And the
variables and the numbers. Yep. Why is my screen blurry? Someone should clean
my screen.

27h in: There is a
chocolate bunny in the drawer next to my desk. I am not allowed to eat the
chocolate bunny. Not today, not tomorrow. Life without chocolate is so sad and
empty.

On Monday evening, I was going to sort through the piles of
paper on my desk and maybe my closet. Unfortunately, I felt extremely drained
(and oddly, a little drunk – I assume this was lightheadedness), which got in
the way of my plans. Instead, I broke my second rule by spending €1.49 on a pot
of cream, and made some vegetable cream soup from a bag of carrots and some
frozen broccoli.
(Sometimes I find vegetables in my fridge. I am convinced
that somewhere in a parallel universe, there is a version of me that goes for
runs on weekday mornings and makes mason jar salads, and she sneaks them in)
I proceeded to eat three bowls in a row and it was the best
thing on the planet. I then went to bed at nine fifteen with a headache and a stabbing
pain in my stomach, but it took me an hour to fall asleep.
Tuesday was more or less a blur. I didn’t get out of bed until
8 (snow in March? Really?), I felt dizzy, lightheaded, and just awful overall,
with the exception of what I think were a few hunger highs. Work was a bit of a
nightmare since my cognitive functioning was noticeably impaired. I’m normally quick
on the uptake and generally a very fast-paced person, but I was suddenly having
trouble registering what people were even saying to me, forget about reacting
appropriately. Throughout the day, I had two glasses of mango juice, the
leftover vegetable soup, a diet coke and a huge mug of hot chocolate.
45h in: I’m tired.
Very tired. I slept for 10h. Why am I tired?

48h in: I think I’m
drunk. Oh my god this is funny. I’m drunk and I didn’t even drink. Ok SHHHH
Damita, no one can know you’re drunk at the office.

52h in: I am literally
so fucking hungry and I could just eat because no one reads my blog anyway.
Seriously, no one would know. But NO, because for once in my life I would just
like to finish something I started and reach a goal I set myself.

54h in: I LOVE HOT
CHOCOLATE IT IS THE NECTAR OF THE GODS

Wednesday morning seemed to go on forever. I had a hot
chocolate around 10 but honestly, the last two hours of the fast still seemed
like an absolute eternity.
I finally broke my fast at around 1:20 pm on Wednesday – did I have a light salad or some yoghurt as recommended to ease my stomach back in? Not so much. 
I had this amazing plate of nom instead. #notevensorry
In total, over the course of 72 hours and not counting water
and tea, I drank:

– about 1.5 liters of juice
– about 1.5 liters of vegetable cream soup
– a bottle of diet coke
– a few sips of yoghurt vanilla drink (some weird milky concoction I had a
bottle of in the fridge – as hungry as I was, I didn’t finish it, because yuck)
– 700mL of milk with cocoa powder

And I ate:

NOTHING!

I spent a total of €1.49 on food and drinks (we get free drinks
at the office, thank god).
And most importantly, I made the donation of €15 to World
Vision Austria.

Did it work? 
Well, I felt more grateful to have food around
and readily available – for a few hours. The day after, I got sucked right back
in to my daily life and my first world problems. Gratitude really is something
you need to practice actively. I also didn’t really get more done – I may have saved time, but I felt too sluggish and exhausted to move in that time.
But I did learn two things.
The first lesson I took from this is that if I try something
with the aim of then writing about it, I will actually follow through. People
find their motivation in very different things, and I don’t think I would’ve
finished the full 72 hours in a million years if I hadn’t known I wanted to blog
about it. But knowing this was going to be a blog post, I thought “I went
without food for 26.5 hours and then inhaled a burger” just wouldn’t make for as
catchy a title.
The second thing I learned is that my body is more resilient
than I think it is. Hunger is not an emergency and even though I felt dizzy,
and slow, and sick, and in pain (yet surprisingly alert and less tired after day 2), I made it through. It was nice to be reminded of my own strength.
Would I do it again?

The fast worked nicely to reset my eating habits, I feel
less hungry and have actually eaten an uncharacteristic amount of fruit and veg
since ending it. Not only would I want to do it again, but I would like to try
water & tea only (no other liquids) and see what would happen – probably an
even worse feeling of inebriation at the office. 

food for thought personal

Why I am going without food for 72 hours

March 12, 2016
Do you know what real hunger feels like?
We’ve all said things like “I can’t wait for lunch, I’m
starving!” before. But in the west where food is pretty much always available and
many of us struggle with not overeating, very few people, if any, know what it
means to be truly, gut-wrenchingly hungry. Even the hunger you feel when you skip
lunch on a busy workday is really uncomfortable. What would it feel like not to
eat for days?

Unfortunately, many people around the world know exactly
what that feels like. World Vision
Austria
states that 70% of refugees in Lebanon are at risk for
malnutrition. That is why they initiated the campaign I am writing about. The idea
is that you forgo food for 24 hours and then donate the money you saved in that
time, which they estimate at €15, to pay for a month’s worth of food for a
Syrian child in Lebanon.
I want to take part in this for several reasons. For one
thing, while opinions are divided about opening Europe’s borders to refugees,
most people who aren’t entirely heartless would agree that providing local aid
is crucial. For another, it’s still Lent for a few more days, and I have yet to
give up a single thing – I am clearly an awful former Catholic. Also, my
emotional eating has been really bad lately and I feel like it’s time for a
fresh start. Most importantly though, I want to achieve two things:
1. Practice gratitude
Humans are odd creatures. The easiest and fastest way to
make us feel grateful for something is often to take that very thing away from
us. It shouldn’t be that way, but I’m afraid it is. People who practice
gratitude are happier and healthier overall (there is literature
on this), and I know for myself that when I remind myself of what I do have, the
things I don’t have seem a lot less important. I try to think of things I am
grateful for daily, but these past few days, I’ve had a hard time coming up
with anything. Fasting is bound to make me feel grateful for coming home to a
full fridge (well, metaphorically speaking – my fridge currently contains a red
onion, more cheese than I care to admit and a half-empty bottle of white wine).  
2. Take time
I spend a lot of my time on food, probably an unhealthy
amount. Not just on preparing and eating it, but also on planning what I’m
going to eat, pondering what I should allow myself to eat and debating whether
I should exercise to balance out what I’ve already eaten. I also spend more
time than I would like on other very petty and superficial things. I want to
have the courage and self-assurance not to, but I’m not quite there yet. I
spend time comparing myself to others and envying people and worrying about
what others think of me. This week, I was painfully reminded of how short life
is. In reality, I know I want to spend it doing three things: building a
family, trying my hardest at anything I do, and being kind and generous to
others. I simply don’t think I will find enough meaning in anything other than commitment,
effort and kindness. And yet, so few people seem to find meaning in these
things or even attach any importance to them that I find it difficult to keep
believing there is any value to them. It feels like the world around me
measures me by entirely different standards, ones according to which I mostly
feel worthless.
I am hoping that I will be able to use the time I save on
cooking, eating, and planning my meals, to reflect, refocus, re-prioritize my
goals, and remind myself of what’s truly important to me.
I will be donating €15, but I almost never spend that much
on food in one day. So instead of going without food for 24 hours, I will fast
for 72 h to make the experience longer and more intense (but still medically
safe). I will start tomorrow, on Sunday March 13th, after brunch,
and I will not be eating again until Wednesday, March 16th, at the
same time. Not even chocolate. (The plan is to have mostly water, tea and
broth, but if I start feeling dizzy or like I need sugar, I’ll drink some juice.)
Wanna join? 🙂

Love,
Damita