Are You Really Sure You Want to Fast?

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition

The week before Thanksgiving always reminds me of the time—the one time—I fasted for 24 hours. I was a freshman in college, studying nutrition, and one of my classmates suggested we all join a program the dining hall was sponsoring that would allow us to donate the cost of one day’s meals to pay for Thanksgiving dinners at a local soup kitchen. We’d be encouraged to fast—that is, to skip meals and consume only water, juice, tea and coffee and light broths that day, so that we might know what it was like to be hungry.

But I figured if I were going to know hunger, I should really know it, not sort of know it. So I decided that on this day, one week before a celebration of plenty, I would consume nothing but water. No broth or tea for me.

It was a disaster. I started off being tired, then peckish, then absolutely famished. The word “hangry” had yet to be coined, an elegant phrase that describes how easily annoyed you are with everyone and everything around you when you haven’t eaten enough. But it describes my state, perfectly.

I know now that what I was experiencing was very low blood sugar, and it’s part of the reason Nutrisystem encourages you to eat several small meals a day so that the “hangry” feeling never comes over you. That means your blood sugar is stable, which means your insulin levels aren’t messing with your body’s ability to store fat.

Anyway, I tumbled into bed early, eager for the day to end so I could wake up and eat. I got up the next morning, wondering how I would drag myself up the hill from my dormitory to the cafeteria. Then I noticed the package on my desk, which I must have missed the night before in delerium. It was from my mom. And it contained two boxes of Girl Scout Thin Mints. I wolfed an entire sleeve as I crawled to breakfast. Then I ate a giant breakfast. By lunch, another giant meal, I felt better.

That’s another reason to never get hungry. But that’s a story for another day.