I am guilty of food abuse.
I buy too much, eat too much, and waste too much. I eat processed foods with chemical additives harder to pronounce than any dinosaur that ever walked the earth.
I eat fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed with God knows how many or what quantity of pesticides. I eat because I’m bored, or tired, or don’t want to throw something away. I eat foods that do nothing to nourish my body, and most likely have the opposite effect.
So I undertook a voluntary weeklong fast to clean out the system and start from scratch. With an empty belly, I found that food was always on my mind.
The first day was the hardest: to not consume any of the scraps left on my children’s breakfast plates, to not place a single cracker or raisin in my mouth at snacktime, to turn down an offer for take-out food.
I drank a special lemonade, made with organic lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water. It’s relatively tasty, although each day I drank less and less of it – holding out for stuff that could be chewed, I guess.
Smelling food became a total body experience. I paused in the kitchen with my nose in the air, like a rabbit at the edge of a summer-ripe garden. Inhaling the aroma of melted butter and maple syrup atop toasted blueberry waffles, I found I could almost taste them. Even non-culinary scents seemed stronger.
This fast tested my will power. It left me physically lighter and mentally stronger (even though I did cheat in my dreams).
And believe it or not, I craved healthy foods – fruits and nuts and vegetables. Specifically bananas and cashews and broccoli. I’m not sure why those three items; maybe it’s because I knew they were in the house, just waiting for me to sink my teeth in.
I didn’t want potato chips or French fries, a large coffee, or a greasy pizza. It was rice and beans and a great salad with lots of crunchy vegetables that made me drool. And no disrespect to any meat eaters out there, but the thought of ingesting a dead animal was even more repulsive than before.
Amazingly, my energy level stayed high enough to take a rigorous yoga class and chase after two toddlers all day. It got me thinking about how little a body really needs to survive.
After seven days without eating, I felt good and I felt strong. What I didn’t feel was the urge to reach into a box of something concocted in a far-away factory.
And today, over a year later, I still don’t. Fasting cured my food abuse.