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Neurotic’s guide to fasting

There are many reasons people try a water fast: to cleanse their system. To test their spiritual limits.

My reason was different, and possibly absurd. I wanted to try water fasting because I have a lifelong fear of being stranded on a desert island – or in an apocalyptic wasteland -- and starving. Admittedly, I’m afraid of practically everything, but this thought seemed to have at least a shred of rationality. If starving is not something you currently fear, read “Survivor Type,” the Stephen King story about what happens if you are stranded on a desert island without food, and get back to me.

Accordingly, if you pose that “What three things would you take to a desert island with you” question, my mind immediately goes to objects that would help me make a fire, and purify water and spear fish. By all means, you should take your beloved copy of Proust with you. I hope it’s delicious. I will be taking skinning knives.

I imagine I wouldn’t last long on my desert island. But how long? Would I die in the first day or could I possibly survive a week? Up until the end of the 19thcentury it was believed that people died after 10 days without food. They don’t. Today it’s believedto be somewhere between 28 and 73 days, depending on the level of hydration. Surely I could make it a few days.

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