Unexpected: A fear of eating

This past Lent, I decided to fast.  Not to get heavy into religion here, but for the benefit of non-Christians, Lent lasts for 40 days.  Many Christians decide to “give up” something during the season.  Christians believe Christ suffered for us and made the ultimate sacrifice.  Hence, many feel it’s a good idea — a bit of a spiritual reminder — to sacrifice a thing or two during this period.  Some examples include alcohol or smoking — or other things…(cue: *eyebrow raise and a flash of a side eye*)  But, it depends on the person and how deeply and seriously they’d like to take this.  None of this is mandated across the entire Christian faith.  It’s up to the individual, or in some cases, a church’s clergy may make suggestions, which usually includes spiritual support.  It could be the entire 40 days or a portion of the Lenten season.

Just in case you’re interested, here is a condensed explanation, thanks to About.com, with links related to the Christian season of Lent.

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I had this brilliant idea I would fast for Lent.  Oh, not just for a week or two.  Noooo.  The entire 40 days.  *blink*  My self-imposed sacrifice would be fairly regimented.  Before sundown, beverages; after sundown, one meal.

My schedule would be —

  • 2 shakes (I should have penned a blog post about shakes, but I’ll put a note at the conclusion of this post about things to consider) —  one before 10 a.m., the other at around 3 p.m.
  • 2 cups of a hot beverage (I’m a bit of a tea drinker, but I’ll have hot chocolate and the occasional cup of coffee…eh, not my favorite) — I’d have these during the hours between my shakes.
  • As many ounces of water as can be tolerated to keep myself hydrated and “full”.

The first two and a half weeks were the most difficult.  The drastic drop in calories brought on severe dips in blood sugar, obviously, because I was weak, stressed, could not fall asleep and did not sleep well when I did (and I’m the absolute worst at both), had headaches, was irritable, went to the bathroom way too many times, thought about food all…the…time, and I think I hallucinated a few times.  Not kidding.  (See my posts here and here.)  This was not easy at all — not for a normal person…not for a “foodie”…not for someone with an 85-year old West Indian aunt (my grandmother’s sister) a.k.a. Sassy Spitfire, who believes people should be eating several times a day and whose memory must be the worst or perhaps she was just torturing me by saying, “Why don’t you eat this…”  Um, I’m fasting.  I thought I was clear about this weeks ago.  Seriously, woman, now is not the time to play with me or my mind.

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The period of Lent ended on Sunday — Easter Sunday.  I made it!

I had a shake for breakfast, a matzo cracker for lunch followed up by a shake, and a cup of tea about an hour before dinner.  As for dinner, I enjoyed a wonderful meal of truffle-infused pasta with truffle cheese sauce (see pic below) and a small seared tuna steak.

Parmegiano Reggiano Italian Sauce with Truffles

That was all I had for the day.  My largest amount of calories, again, after sundown.  Other than the cracker, I’d basically had what I’d been having for weeks. I was done for the night and felt stuffed — even hours later as I went to bed.

Manischewitz Organic Matzos

A new day — Monday:  I had two shakes, two cups of tea, no water…and dinner.  I also had a few cashew nuts.  It hit me on Sunday night and the thoughts returned to my head on Monday…

I’m actually afraid of eating.

I used to look forward to what I dubbed on Twitter as #TheGreatLunchHunt — lunch time “foodie” adventures where I would hunt for food trucks with delicious options.  The mere thought of this is giving me anxiety.  Now when I eat, I feel “heavy” — almost like I’ve eaten too much.  It is a very unpleasant feeling.

Now what?

My intent is to finish the Glucerna shakes I still have remaining and then slowly begin eating again.  That’s the intent.

I’m a foodie with a problem.  I’m not ready to sound the alarm bells, but…

I never expected to feel this way.  Ever.

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Observations about shakes:

I don’t have a juicer or one of those fancy Bullet-blender things.  So, I purchased ready-to-drink meal-replacement shakes.  When I began my fast, I drank Medifast shakes.  They were tasty, creamy, but extremely low in calories.  Once they were finished, I purchased four bottles of GNC shakes to see how they tasted.  They were much larger (much larger), which was a big plus.  However, they were a bit on the watery side with a strange taste.  They would not do.  I then purchased two cases of Glucerna.  (I didn’t need “testers”.  I’d already tasted them in the past.)  Like the Medifast shake, both flavors — chocolate and vanilla bean — were creamy and delicious.  Unlike the Medifast shakes, they were higher in calories, but lower in sugar compared to a similar product, Ensure.  Taste is only part of the equation.

My suggestion is that you not be delusional when doing something like this.  Be cognizant of your health status.  I’d even suggest that you consult with your doctor before living on meal-replacement shakes for an extended period of time.  As I mentioned, I chose Glucerna because of its lower sugar content.  I also checked labels for sodium and saturated fat.  You should too.

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The Great Lenten Fast of 2013: I’m starting to hallucinate and this cannot be a good thing.

Remember this…remember the whole hair-brained idea I had about fasting for Lentthe entire 40 days?  Well, here I am…16 days in and I’m ready to say, “It’s a wrap.”  *complete with hand gesture and a heaping dose of attitude*

I’m starting to hallucinate and this cannot be a good thing.

By the time the clock strikes 2 o’clock in the afternoon (mayyyybe 3:00), I’m visualizing myself — kind of like an outer body experience — in a crumpled heap on the floor of my office.  Now, that would not be a good look.

I have a shake at about 9:00 a.m. (…definitely before 10 o’clock because if not I’d be dead before any of my recurring, obsessive, compulsive Outlook Calendar 10:30 reminders).  By 1 o’clock, I’m already on my first cup of tea.  By 3:30, I’m on my second shake and I’m already having the shakes coupled with feelings of desperation and anxiety that the clock isn’t moving.  I swear I see food every time I look up — something steaming with the scent of garlic wafting through the air.

Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos.net

Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos.net

Side Note:  Actually, it’s during the hours of 2:00 and the close of business that I’m praying I’ve worn my best undergarments.  The West Indian Mother always warned: Wear your good stuff when you’re out of the house.  You never know if you have to go to the hospital.

How could I die in peace if I knew I’d slacked off in the perfect undergarments department?

By 5:00 p.m., I’m on my second or third cup of tea.  My hallucinations have increased. Thoughts of food are constant and pretty much shouting at me with a megaphone.  All I can think of is eating.  By now, sundown has come and gone and I should be eating but I’m still at the office.  So, I’m stressed, starving and seeing things.  If you don’t believe me, follow me on Twitter.  You’ll see the tweets.  It doesn’t help that since I started this fast, food is seemingly everywhere.  Why the h*ll is the microwave in the office kitchenette constantly going?  Really, do you need popcorn at 4 o’clock for crissakes!  I’m also being tortured by the tweets of fellow “foodies”, and when I’m surfing the web, minding my own business, food always creeps on the screen in the form of a restaurant.

By the time I actually leave the office and get to a plate, whether that’s at home or in a restaurant, I’m RAVENOUS. I’m then forced (yes, forced) to abandon”mindful eating”.  I’m cutting and swallowing, basically.  Surely, this cannot be healthy.  No nutritionist would support this craziness.

So, here I am.  I think about quitting every day but then guilt sets in.  Guilt.  Plus, I’ve told The Matriarch, Sassy Spitfire, The Traveler, and God knows who else, that I’m doing this thing.  I committed to 40 days and so I guess I have to suffer — but I refuse to suffer in silence.  I will not go quietly!  *bangs fist on table (in my head)*  Oh no.  I complain.  I complain to anyone who will listen (and I’m tempted to complain to the homeless woman who talks to herself on Madison Avenue near the Cardinal’s entrance at St. Patrick’s Cathedral).

Maybe I could get something out of this, like losing a few pounds?  That would be a bonus.  *Looks down at bellies*…But, it ain’t happening, trust me.  Not to mention, with all this liquid intake (which, mind you, also includes water), I’m now dangerously close to being in a Depends commercial.  The ladies’ room seems to get farther and farther away from my office every day…*voice trails off*