Giving up food for Lent.

2004-04-13 18:42

I didn’t really give up food. I just fasted during the day. During Lent, except on Sundays, I didn’t eat food during daylight hours. (The picky reader will doubtless observe that this is more like Ramadan than Lent. I figure, they weren’t using it, so no harm done.) After some consideration, I drew the line at “things with calories” – I could drink iced tea, but not caramel latte.

Did I screw up? A little. I had a couple of cinnamon candies through mere inattention. I made considered decisions to have a couple of cough drops and some honey tea for a cough. I tasted the egg roll mix my spouse was making, and once I slurped some foam off a root beer float about a minute early. But no meals, no real food; not one bite, even if there were a couple of nibbles.

It’s hard. It’s surprising how hard it is. It’s humbling to realize how many people (perhaps a billion) are, at this very moment, at least as hungry as I was while fasting, but who don’t have the option of giving in in a moment of weakness and having a snack. It’s also probably a really bad idea, psychologically, to pick a deadline that gets later and later during the fast, to say nothing of daylight savings time, which was pretty much like a kick in the teeth.

On the other hand, I lived. I lost a couple of pounds. I learned that being hungry is not the end of the world, and that there’s nothing wrong with waiting until you’re really hungry, not just a little munchy, before eating. I appreciate food more than I did a month and a half ago.

I don’t really recall exactly planning to do this. Around 2:30 PM on Ash Wednesday, I thought I might as well try fasting for the day. It was easy enough, so I figured I’d do it again the next day. Then it became a pattern… I dunno. It’s not as if me eating during daylight hours is the end of the world – in fact, I may well do it today. It just seemed like a good idea to try something, to see if I could stick with it.

It’s hard. I think everyone should do this at least once; it teaches you a lot about the level of privilege we take for granted in America, a life where the idea of having to skip a meal is seen as a major hardship, while other people dream about the day when they can have a meal.

But I’m eating again now. Woo! Food.

Peter Seebach

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