Notes From a 24-Hour Fast


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Last Sunday I ended up getting twenty pieces of chicken nuggets from Burger King. The fact that it was only three dollars for all those nuggets made feel a little suspect. After my third nugget, I got curious. I opened up Google and typed: “Is burger king chicken…”—to which Google, knowing me so well it can finish my sentences, automatically suggested the following:

“Is burger king chicken nuggets real chicken”

“Is burger king chicken real”

“Is burger king chicken sandwich real chicken”

“Is burger king chicken processed”

Thanks Googs! Now I know it’s definitely not real chicken! The first link brought up this NPR piece entitled “What’s In That Chicken Nugget? You Don’t Want to Know”

Gross. Just gross. Of course, I ate the whole thing anyway cause I was starving and I’m not about to waste food. But still, never again. It was then that I decided I need to reset my body.

I figured a 24 hour fast should do the trick. I’ve been reading a lot about fasting and always wanted to try it. Now would be the perfect time. There are great benefits to fasting, including autophagy, which according to Wikipedia “is the natural, destructive mechanism that disassembles, through a regulated process, unnecessary or dysfunctional cellular components.” So it’s kind of like an oil change for your body, right? Also, this study says it also promotes neural plasticity. I could definitely use that with all this mental fog I’ve been experiencing (it’s been hard to stay focused lately). Plus, I gained ten pounds since December so I could definitely lose a few.

So I set my schedule for Tuesday 10pm to Wednesday 10pm. The only thing I could consume was tea. The following are my field notes:

Tue 9:59 pm: I eat two table spoons of coconut oil. My reasoning is that the fat will provide me with the energy I need to be functional the next day. I don’t actually have anything to base this on.

Tue 11:00 pm: Fell asleep watching documentaries about ancient civilizations on Youtube.

Wed 7:00 am: I wake up feeling good. I’ve already put in eight hours and all I’ve done was sleep. I got this.

7:50 am: I drink green tea before leaving for work.

9:00 am: Nothing out of the ordinary. I normally don’t eat breakfast on weekdays, so I won’t really be breaking any routine until I skip lunch. So far, this is easy.

1:00 pm: Lunch time. I want to go for a walk around Battery Park (I work near the area), but it’s windy and like 20 degrees outside. Not happening. I go to the Duane Reade in Brookfield Place to get kombucha. Kombucha is fermented tea which is also carbonated. I’m allowed to drink this according to the rules that I set for myself. This is my lunch. Sigh.

2:00 pm: Back in the office. I still have half of my kombucha. My fingers smell vinegary from when I opened the bottle and the carbonated fizz came up. I go to the bathroom to wash my hands. I’m still okay. My stomach wants food, but it’s satisfied with the kombucha.

3:00 pm: My stomach is growling. It sounds like I just ate a puppy. Okay I’m Asian, I probably shouldn’t make that joke.

3:30 pm: Since it’s my first week in a new department, my new boss introduces me to the entire 37th floor. I go around smiling and shaking hands and repeat everyone’s names so I would remember them. It took 30 minutes to go around the entire floor. I don’t remember anybody’s name. I only remember which ones had cookies and food on their desks.

4:00 pm: Not in a good mood. I’m bored out of my mind. Can’t focus on anything. Restless. Feel like running around and kicking trash cans.

4:30 pm: C’mon 5 o’clock! Thirty more minutes. I think about strategies to make it to 10pm. I could watch a movie after work. I haven’t seen the Revenant or The Big Short. I could watch those by myself and it would be okay and that would easily take me till 9ish.

5:05 pm: So. Cold. Outside. I’m not walking to the theater. I can’t do it.

5:10 pm: I decide to get a haircut instead. My barber is down the street in a hidden little area. I go down the steps and walk inside only to see that the shop is a complete wreck. Everything is torn apart. Chairs are uplifted, pipes exposed, cabinets destroyed, stuff everywhere. Looks like a hurricane passed through. I look around and see him and say “Uh, are you open?” expecting him to say of course not. But he says “So sorry I’m remodeling right now, but if you don’t mind the mess, I’ll cut your hair.” I don’t want to go home. I have a lot of time to kill. So I say, yes, I’m okay with it.

He sets me up by first taking me to the back and washing my hair and shampooing and conditioning it. This is when the construction guys come back from their break. They are foreign guys with sledgehammers and they’re yuuuge. While my hair is being washed, they are literally breaking all the cabinets with sledgehammers. It sounds like gun shots. He takes me to the chair and starts the hair cut. In the meantime, one of the guys behind me starts drilling stuff. I can’t believe this is my Wednesday.

My barber starts telling me stories. He’s gay and has a thick eastern European accent. Half the time I’m just nodding my head and agreeing but I can’t really understand him. I like to encourage him to keep talking though because every now and then he’ll say some truly crazy stuff. Last time I was here, he told me he had a secret relationship with JFK Jr. (he was his private barber). He also said that JFK Jr.’s wife really hated him and he hated her. I don’t know for sure if he’s telling the truth, but for what it’s worth, I believe him.

7:30 pm: I get home. The cold walk from the train station made me not think about food, but now that I’m warm, my stomach starts growling again. I see a packet of hot sauce and I’m tempted to open it and suck on it. I don’t do it though. I made it this far, no need for give in now.

8:00 pm: Since I didn’t watch a movie in the theaters, I’ll do the next best thing: Netflix. I watch two episodes of Bob’s Burgers and two episodes of Parks & Rec (I’m on season 7). While watching, I alternate between being okay and being really hungry.

10:00 pm: I made it! Netflix saves the day again!

10:05 pm: I microwave chicken fingers. These ones are made of real chicken.

Thoughts on fasting? I thought it would be more of a struggle, but it really wasn’t that hard. I think that being dead set on completing it and planning ways to distract yourself makes it a lot easier to get through. I think the trick is to take away the agony of choice.

I’ll probably do this again.Until then…



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