Eating Days Are About “Yes”

This is what it looks like … when a writer declutters.

My favorite part about Alternate Day Fasting is the delicious anticipation you feel on the night of a fasting day. The feeling is much like the feeling you have as a child going to bed on Christmas Eve, but for me, instead of sugarplums, visions of ham, egg and cheese sandwiches and lattes dance in my head.

Still, the rewards of that fasting day are equally as great. My stomach feels marvelously flat when I wake up on the morning of an eating day. After a nice long run of fasting, it’s as if your body has finally gotten a break from processing all the garbage you dump into it on a daily basis and instead has been able to apply Netflix star Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method of tidying up to your intestines.

I find it interesting that Marie Kondo’s “Tidying Up” series hit Netflix as I launched into a fasting month. One of the unintended consequences of fasting that hit me, and hit me hard, was an urge to tidy. I hadn’t tidied this diligently since I experienced that nesting phase before each of our sons was born. The sense of internal “tidiness” created by fasting had an immediate impact on my desire for external tidiness. I tore through cabinets and drawers, culling unused or worn-out items, and my family looked on in amazement and then in dismay when they were recruited to do the heavy lifting of loading bags of clothing and discarded kitchen items into the car for the drive to Goodwill.

Staring down a giant pile of books that I deposited on the floor of our family room was one moment of many that visually demonstrated the great abundance I enjoyed in my life. The visual was striking enough that it immediately quelled any desire to consume — whether that consumption came in the form of eating or shopping. Because while the fantasy of consuming bazillions of calories on an eating day felt terrific, the reality was that on most eating days, I couldn’t manage to eat everything I had planned. Around 3 p.m. of an eating day, I’d feel a little sad. A fasting day was around the corner, and I never got around to eating those chips and guacamole. How silly is that! But after you’ve been fasting for a while, the amount of food you can fit into your stomach shrinks. And how much can you comfortably eat in a day anyway? And by extension, how many books can you comfortably own anyway? Clothes? Kitchen gadgets?

What I consumed on an eating day mattered, and mattered a lot. If I ate pie and ice cream and drank wine on my eating day, I paid the price by being much hungrier on the next fasting day. Eating sugar and drinking alcohol felt like a treat, and it was allowed on the Alternate Day Fasting plan — but it still counted and it still had consequences. Everything counts.

As the month progressed, I began to pare back the indulgences of my eating days. Now, although I will still indulge on an eating day, the specter of a challenging fasting day makes me reel myself in, just a bit. I wanted to feel good on those fasting days, and I needed the energy so I could do my writing and work toward my goals. Wait — was I changing my eating habits in order to be a better writer? To be more connected to my inner self whose voice I put on the page?

Then it struck me: Prince had eaten (or not eaten) in the manner he had in order to be a clear channel for the music that flowed through him. I might have realized this intellectually before, but now I knew, in my heart, in the way that only experience can demonstrate. I felt sure it was the truth.

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