I’m paying money to go hungry – Orange County Register

Some of you longtime readers think I’m a little bit wacko, and others of you have been sure of it for some time.

So it won’t surprise you to learn that I’m about to go somewhere and pay a lot of money to not eat anything. Now, over the course of my life, I’ve gone hungry for free, when I was flat broke, doing fad diets, cleanses, or when I was having chemo and the thought of food made my eyebrows hurt.

But, this time I’m paying for it. Crazy, right? Yes. But wait. There’s more.

See, I have cancer, and it’s proven to be quite pesky. I’ve now done about every treatment known to humankind, and it hasn’t gone away and bothered other people who deserve it more than me. (I could give you a list).

In fact, it’s been slowly growing. I’m not planning to keel over any time soon, so don’t get your hopes up, but I’m strongly in favor of figuring out a way to stop it.

There are lots of theories about how to starve cancer, including to stop eating sugar, which cancer loves more than anything else. It’s like giving a kid cotton candy at the circus, that’s how much cancer loves sugar. This is a medical fact.

There are other nutritional therapies that people embrace, but are generally considered unproven by the wider medical community, such as going on the keto diet to reduce carbs and also exclusively plant-based whole foods, with no animal products.

Anyway, back to the not-eating-nada diet. There’s a center up in Santa Rosa called True North that’s devoted to improved health by medically supervised fasting, and also by teaching healthy plant-based eating.

I’ve been reading about it for years. They don’t claim to cure your cancer, in fact they don’t make any claims about cancer at all. But some people have had good results there, on the theory that starving the cancer makes it extremely unhappy.

And, meanwhile, you can lose some weight and get more healthy. Let’s face it, I could stand to fast for a year or two. Then maybe I’d get into those jeans in the back of my closet.

This center teaches healthy eating and works for people with diabetes and other food-related diseases, like gout. I, however, won’t be doing any healthy eating, because I will be drinking water. That’s why it’s called a “water fast.”

I know it sounds crazy to stop eating voluntarily, unless for religious purposes, but actually I have fasted for as long as five days, and you might be surprised to learn that after the first couple of days, you lose your appetite. I originally started fasting around my chemo treatments, because it’s been shown to reduce chemo side effects. And once you get over your initial hunger, it’s not bad. The key is to keep going until your body gets used to burning your own fat, instead of calories. This is sort of like starting an engine that’s been sitting for a long time, it’s balky at first but eventually warms up and runs fine.

True North also offers juice fasts, but not for my condition. I’m leaving next week to go up to Santa Rosa for a week, just to try things out. You stay at the center, and get checked by a nurse every day, and sometimes a doctor as well. I’m not sure if you can sneak out and get a Snickers bar, but it’s costing a pretty penny to go to this place, so that would sort of defeat the purpose.

I’ve already had a Zoom appointment with my new doctor, who’s an actual medical doctor in case you’re interested, and I really like talking to someone who believes as I do, that food is medicine. Usually doctors just get this pained look in their eyes when you try to talk to them about it.

I actually plan to go to the center for three weeks of fasting, but they couldn’t fit me in until the end of November, which of course will allow me to pig out without guilt at Thanksgiving. Don’t worry, I’ll still be writing my column, as long as my fingers can still type.

However, I decided to do a little preview visit at the end of the month, just for a week, to see what it’s all about. The way it works is that you fast for two-thirds of your time, then they serve you gradually more food for one-third until you’re eating normally. Well, by that I mean, healthily, because normally would mean pizza and french fries.

They have various types of lodging at this place, but since I’m a starving journalist, I’ll be staying in the simplest room with a shared bath. You can upgrade to a suite if you’re loaded, or recently won the lottery. But, shucks, a simple room is good enough for the likes of me.

Some people might claim I’m doing this just to avoid cleaning my house, and that is true. But I could stand to lose a few pounds at the very least, so let’s see what happens. I’ll keep you posted.

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