What everyone wants to know if you don't eat for 5 days
It must have been sometime in 2005 that I read a message on facebook from someone who had done the lemon juice cure: for ten days getting nothing but water, tea and a disgusting mixture of lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper.
I couldn't believe my eyes: who the hell does that?
Food is healthy, tasty, cozy and oh yes, also quite essential for your survival. Why would you deny yourself that? But as so often there was that little voice in my head: 'You think that's not for you, but how do you know that?' - the same voice that once directed me to the a healthbeurs and gave me a lot of interesting dates. And so it happened that I went fast for the first time, as a psychological experiment, without knowing exactly what it entailed.
Fasting can come in many forms (see box) and this was quite hardcore for a novice. I would never approach it this way again, but it turned out to be a surprisingly positive experience. The hunger was not too bad and after the first few days I felt fresh and clear and energized. In the years that followed, I did the cure a few more times, until I just couldn't stomach that nasty mix of lemon juice and maple syrup.
And then I had three weeks off in January and after a few months full of sugar, drinks and other goodies I suddenly felt a lot of appetite for a little less. Wouldn't I fast again for a few days? It had been a few years since I last did it. But in the meantime I had regularly done 16:8 or 20:4. That should be a nice setup to be able to last a little longer now. I decided to make it a five-day event, in the middle week of my vacation.
On Sunday I had a party - with drinks - so I decided to slow down on Monday (no alcohol, sugar, meat and carbohydrates) and then not take anything from Monday evening to Sunday morning. That worked fine for me (or well... almost then, more on that later) and during that time I kept getting the same questions. If you want to try it yourself, prepare yourself: this is what everyone will want to know about you.
Have you gone crazy?!
No. If you consider that people used to have to go without food for a while, it is not illogical in itself: to skip one or two or fifteen meals.
What do you eat then?
Well, nothing. I do drink, and a lot. I mainly stick to water, tea and spa red and every now and then have a cup of broth with extra salt or a sports drink without calories, but with so-called electrolytes: potassium, potassium, magnesium, sodium et cetera. Because you drink above average during fasting, you also urinate more often and you can become deficient. Then you can feel weak and get cramps and I don't feel like that. Furthermore, I sometimes take a piece of sugar-free chewing gum, because that fast can make you smell really bad and being polite is also important. Incidentally, there are plenty of forms of fasting where you periodically eat (a little bit) or drink vegetable or fruit juice, for example. But without it works fine for me.
Aren't you hungry then?
Yes, of course. And most importantly, pull. But that doesn't matter. Hunger is not a feeling that gets worse over time. You feel it and a moment later it is gone again. Incidentally, I always leave the option open to myself to eat something. I am not a fanatic and can easily live with the idea that sometimes it might not work. In fact, that will also happen this time. On Friday evening, after a 97 hour fast, I suddenly find myself in the kitchen eating a cracker with peanut butter. And not even because I'm hungry, but purely out of habit, thoughtlessly. No biggie. I decide to make it into a small, healthy meal. Then I put my fasting app back on to complete the last 35 hours until Sunday morning.