An Experiment: Minimalism In Eating
I’ve decided to fast today. Since I love to eat (really, who doesn’t?) I think this will be particularly challenging. However, I think it will also be rewarding. Of course, that’s the point of the experiment – to find out.
I’ve been thinking more about my eating habits, and while they’re not particularly bad, they’re not particularly good, either. I do cook, but most of the time I rely on packaged frozen foods simply because they’re easier. That’s not to say they’re bad foods – I read labels conscientiously, and ensure that the majority of my diet consists of protein, with minimal fat and minimal carbs. I try and eat vegetables and fruits as much as possible, and avoid non-fructose sugar (i.e., sucrose) for the most part. (This latter aspect is most difficult, as I definitely have a sweet-tooth – or 28 – as my dentist will attest, though I am successful more often than not.)
With all that said, I have been following several works on nutrition science, not the least of which is the TRANSCEND program outlined by Ray Kurzweil and Dr. Terry Grossman. While I consider it unlikely I’ll ever get to eating the kind of diet that Ray Kurzweil does, I do take supplements and try and maintain a healthy diet. Caloric restriction has been proven to extend the lives of murine animals and it seemed to me that fasting occasionally might be a reasonable way to add to caloric restriction. Of course, by not eating anything, and still existing, calories are burned by the body so as to maintain that existence. I will end up being calorically negative today. Add to that my exercise regimen of going to the gym at least twice a week, and suddenly my calories burned start to really add up.
I had another thought as to why this might be beneficial. Throughout most of human history, food was difficult to come by. There would have been times when our ancestors didn’t eat simply because they were unsuccessful in their hunt, or because crops would have failed. Therefore, my body should be ‘built’ as it were to not only accept short periods of fast, but may also benefit from them. Clearly, my ancestors survived (I am here) so it couldn’t have been the end of the world if they went a day without eating. There are also obviously several religions that practise the concept of fasting, so it’s not as unpopular an idea as it might seem.
Furthermore, when was the last time I gave my digestive system a break? The rest of me gets a break every so often – brain, heart, limbs, etc., all get a rest when I sleep (for varying degrees of the definition of the word “rest”). While the digestive system does interrupt certain functions at night, I think it might be useful to occasionally give it a rest in general.
While I will not eat today, I am still allowing myself tea and water, both of which have no calories. I have also taken my supplements today which would be a few calories, but not many. Starting tomorrow morning, I will eat & exercise as I normally do, and see what happens. So far, while this is not exactly easy, it has proven to be an interesting challenge, and hopefully it will stay that way through the rest of the day.