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Fasting

27 May

This is a decent representation of how I was feeling yesterday: bloated, set to explode from the waste (sic) up. 요즘은 과식해요.

Jocelyn Shipley – Hungry Man

I should first say that I don’t often think much about food or what I put into my body. I’m often quite attuned to the random thoughts that pop into my head and have a set of things that I want to accomplish in a day. Eating does not often fit into my scheduled plan. The fact that my body requires nourishment for me to keep on living is one that I rarely consider and the act of preparing and eating food is a major inconvenience, so I tend to eat out or cook family-sized portions of something that I can eat for several days of the week.

I also hate to eat alone (in that sense I’m no 나홀로족), although scheduling usually requires me to do so nearly two thirds of the time. Considering 28 meals in a week, I probably eat 10 with other people. In such cases I tend to enjoy the food more and usually eat a healthy amount.

I’ve decided to fast for a few days (conservative estimate being 3), to take a step back to gain perspective on the role food has in my life, to contemplate better ways to eat and switch things up. Things have been steady over here, and I have gotten in a groove of over-working and eating poorly. Until Sunday.

It’s been close to 36 hours since my last meal, and my stomach is completely empty. This fast has thus far been very strict. No food and no liquid, except for spring water.

I started to receive my first hunger pangs at about two o’clock, an hour after I usually finish lunch. One of the first things I noticed was that my senses became sharper, especially smell. On the walk to the subway from work I was struck by the wide variety of scents in the air: 호떡/Hoddeok, garbage, 샤브샤브/shabba-shabba, vehicle exhaust, sausages, perfume, 토스트/egg sandwich (simply transliterated as ‘toast’), 와플/waffles, 떡볶이/ddeokbokki, fried chicken. These scents were immediately divided into two groups: edible and inedible, and then further examined for nutrition content. I was struck by the number of easily accessible Western-style foods and their lack of nutritional value.

I noticed that my concentration was starting to waver on my elevator ride to the 19th floor of my apartment. An suited ajosshi made a rare entrance on the 14th floor going up. This was enough to confound me, and I exited there. From that point, I headed down the hall to what I supposed what my apartment, to find that the security lock had been removed. This left me flustered but I didn’t hesitate to open the door, which was unlocked, and where I bore witness to an ajosshi hanging up laundry. I stared at him for a couple of seconds before he asked “Who are you looking for?”, in pretty good English, two times. This brought me to my senses and I realized that I finally was on the wrong floor. I apologized for the unannounced entrance, and shut the door, noting that he was surprisingly calm about the whole thing.

I’m struggling now. A day and a half of fasting has certainly brought thoughts of food to the center of my consciousness for once, but it has also impaired my judgment, which can’t be too good for editing scientific papers, retaining Korean vocabulary, playing saxophone, etc. I imagine with my workload and active lifestyle that I don’t have the ‘luxury’ of a complete fast and should at least adapt a restrictive diet, allowing fruits, vegetables and nuts back in before I go completely mad. I almost did back in Thailand when my body was rejecting all food. Lesson learned.

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