This section is from the book "The Hygienic System: Fasting And Sun Bathing", by Herbert M. Shelton. Also available from Amazon: The Hygienic System Vol III Fasting and Sun Bathing.
The first day of fasting is seldom accompanied with any noticeable change in the usual demand for food. On the second day there is usually a big demand for food. By the third day this has greatly abated or entirely disappeared. From the disappearance of appetite onward, for many days, the body ceases to call for food, until a time arrives when food must be had. During this period it is not uncommon for a repugnance to food to be present. Nausea and efforts at vomiting may develop at the very thought, smell or sight of food. But a time comes when natural hunger returns, when it is very necessary to avoid over-eating.
Sinclair says, "I was very hungry the first day--the unwholesome, ravening sort of hunger that all dyspeptics know." Such "hunger" soon ceases and fasting becomes easy. There is no desire for food. He also tells us:
"I recollect reading a diverting account of the fast cure" "in which the victim was portrayed as haunted by the ghosts of beefsteaks and turkeys. But the person who is taking the fast knows nothing of these troubles, nor would there be much profit in fasting if he did. The fast is not an ordeal; it is a rest; and I have known people to lose interest in food as completely as if they had never tasted any in their lives."
Large numbers of individuals go on a fast and never experience any desire for food from the start. Indeed, many of them have no desire for food before going on the fast. Levanzin, who fasted several times in his life, says he never felt hungry on the first day of his fasts. The demand for food during the first two days of fasting has been over-emphasized by many writers on the subject. Much of the supposed demand for food experienced during this time is not that at all, but the "craving" for the accustomed stimulants. John Smith says: "The more stimulating the food, the sooner does the demand for it return."--Fruits and Farinicea, p. 175.
Fasting patients sometimes complain of being hungry, when the experienced practitioner knows that they are not. Occasionally one complains of hunger through the whole length of the fast. These sensations are due to irritative conditions or to the mind.
Dr. Guelpa in his book, Auto-intoxication and Dis-intoxication, says that food taken into the stomach serves to absorb and neutralize the toxic material in the stomach and intestine and thus relieves the sinking, empty, gnawing, etc., sensations which are caused by active auto-intoxication, but mistaken for hunger. Major Austin points out that drinking a large glass of saline purge "causes the disappearance of hunger instead of increasing it" and thinks this is due to the cleansing of the alimentary tract of toxins. Of course, the disappearance of hunger after taking a purge may be accounted for in another way, but I would remind my readers that these toxic symptoms are not hunger sensations.
These "hunger sensations" may be relieved in such a variety of ways--lavage, water drinking, heat applied to the upper part of the abdomen, abdominal massage, etc.--or will pass away in a short time without anything being done to relieve them, that only the inexperienced and uninformed can think of them as representing a physiological demand for food.
A patient informs me that he was very hungry during the night and could not sleep. Upon being questioned he says the hunger has passed away--a sure indication that it was not real hunger.
Pashutin says: "Some of the experiments which we will have an opportunity to speak about below led to the conclusion that this desire for food and water is great only at the earliest stage of inanition. Manassein, however, mentioned that the animals also at the last period of starvation manifested great thirst." Again, quoting from Albitzky, he says, "At the later days of starvation * * * only violent force by means of a cage or chain holds the animal from undertaking to hunt for something edible."
In fasting steers, as in man, the so-called "hunger feeling" ceases after the second day. This feeling is believed to be caused by the physical contraction of the alimentary tract in adjusting itself to the diminished bulk of its contents. We do not accept this explanation of hunger. These animal experiences coincide exactly with human experiences in fasting. The so-called "hunger contractions" of the stomach increase in vigor in both man and animals during a fast, but do not give rise to hunger. Dr. Trall observed that vegetarians can "bear fasting for a time much better than the flesh eater; and they usually suffer but little in comparison with those who enjoy a mixed diet, from craving sensations of the stomach, on the approach of the dinner or supper hour. To this rule I have never known an exception."
Dr. Oswald says: "In my experiments on the operation of the fasting-cure, I have noticed the curious fact that for the first day or two the clamors of the stomach are restricted to certain hours, and can be induced to waive a disregarded claim."
Appetite is often accompanied with various feelings of discomfort, even actual pain. There may be a general feeling of weakness, or there may be mental depression. Frequent complaints of gnawing in the stomach, an "all gone" sensation in the stomach, rumblings in the abdomen, actual abdominal pain, nausea, headache, weakness and other morbid sensations accompanying appetite are made by Mr. Average Citizen. Indeed, I meet many who refer to distress in the stomach as hunger.
These symptoms are identical with those experienced by the drug addict who is deprived of his accustomed drug. The symptoms of drug addiction are usually more intense. Food drunkenness (gluttony) produces its symptoms and these symptoms are mistaken for hunger. The symptoms are temporarily relieved by eating, just as a cup of coffee temporarily relieves the coffee-induced headache, and this leads to the idea that food was needed.
Such symptoms pass away if their owner will refrain from eating for a few days. Indeed, in many cases, they will pass away within an hour after the accustomed meal time has passed if no food is eaten.
True hunger is accompanied by no symptoms. In true hunger one is not aware that he has a stomach. There is no headache, or other discomfort. There is merely a consciousness of a need for food, which, like thirst, registers itself in the mouth and throat.
Dr. Claunch thus differentiates between appetite and hunger: "The difference between true hunger and false craving may be determined as follows: When hungry and comfortable it is true hunger. When 'hungry' and uncomfortable it is false craving.
"When a sick person misses a customary meal, he gets weak before he gets hungry. When a healthy person misses a customary meal he gets hungry before he gets weak."