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Posted: April 04, 2013

Chef Laura: Life in the “fast” lane

Time to reconsider your relationship with food

Laura Cook Newman

What would you do with an extra three hours in your day?

This is free time to do whatever you want: play competitive ping pong, perfect your Irish Brogue, or get swept away in a Calgon bubble bath while reading a Harlequin Romance novel. You get to choose how you want to spend those “extra” 180 minutes. Is there anything missing from that list? I mean besides “walk your dog” (in Colorado this is a mandatory activity)?

Well, there is a catch.

What you may have noticed is that curiously Chef Laura made no mention of “go out for Sushi” or “eat an ice cream cone.” Why? Well I’m advocating that you fast*. As in abstain from eating…for 24 hours…no food. Do you think you can do it?

I do this “experiment” every year. Spring is the perfect time. Yes, there’s the rebirth/change in season aspect, but really it’s just practical. After Peter Cottontail has hopped on down the bunny trail, there are no major food-focused holidays in the pipeline. (Sorry, Arbor Day).

For one day, just don’t eat. It sounds simple because it is. During the fast you save a bunch of time (approximately three glorious hours) not being consumed by the act of consuming. You get to rethink your relationship with food.

During the fast consider this: Are you a habitual eater? Is food mere sustenance, or are there emotional and social factors at play? Do you eat food because you crave flavors and textures, rather than need the nutrients it provides? How much money do you spend on food and beverages daily – inside and outside of the home?

Here’s the plan:

Pick the right day – Big presentation at work? Meeting Johnny’s principal to discuss a few “issues”? First date with Mr. Tall, Dark & Handsome? No fast for you! You’ll know when “conditions are perfect”. It’s business time.

Wake up – Drink water instead of coffee. That’s not a typo. Do some light exercise. Remember, today is not the day to bench-press your weight, take an advanced Zumba class, or go for your 20-mile run in preparation for the Colfax Marathon.  Time banked = 10 minutes

Breakfast – Nope. Time banked = 15 minutes

Drive to Work - Roll up your windows to block any hunger-triggering aromas. Do not pass a Starbucks. Granted, this will probably add 10 miles to your DTC commute, but trust me – the smell of roasting coffee on a fast day is a recipe for disaster. Time banked = - 15 (avoiding the green Siren requires some tricky maneuvering in the Mile High City)

Mid Morning – Think about coffee…a lot. Get mad at Chef Laura. Curse her name. Tell yourself this experiment is pointless. Shadowbox the air, landing each punch on my stupid, smiling face. Drink water. Sulk.

Lunch –Your growling stomach will remind you that a falafel is not in your future. You will longingly look at billboards of King Kong-sized juicy burgers. Flipping through magazines is torture as your fingertips graze glossy photo-shopped images of golden casseroles. Time banked = 45 minutes

Mid Day – You catch yourself absentmindedly humming a tune from Oliver Twist. To distract yourself, chug a glass of H2O, followed by a trip to the bathroom. Repeat. Your kidneys are ecstatic and your bladder is full. Ironically, your tummy is…pissed.

Drive Home – Listen to Pandora, or your MP3 player, or those round, shiny things. Do not listen to the radio. If you do not heed my warning, instead of enjoying the soothing sounds of the Dropkick Murphys, you are destined to hear Applebee’s ear worm “Eatin’ Good in the Neighborhood!” And when the thought of Applebee’s sounds tempting, you know desperation is setting in.

Errands – No need to head to King Soopers. Don’t even rationalize “But I should return that ‘Red Box’ video.”  Time banked = 45 minutes

Dinner – You guessed it. No food again. You know what else that means? No prep work, no setting the table and no busting suds. Post on FB that you are “Frackin’ Starving!!” Wait for the “likes” to appear. Ask yourself if your friends are being sympathetic, or if they’re enjoying your pain. Time banked = 65 minutes

Evening unwind - Watch TV? Forget it. Are there always this many commercials for Papa John’s? Yes. Yes, there are. Take up knitting, color by numbers, or organize your sock drawer (again). Whatever you need to do to keep your hands busy and your body out of the cucina!

Dessert - Just when you’re considering gorging on stale jelly beans, a flip switches in your brain. This signal travels to your GI system and reassures it that, like Gloria Gaynor, you will survive. Believe it or not, you’re actually feeling pretty good. You realize you don’t need food…for today. Time banked = 15 minutes

Bedtime – You made it! Your stomach has surrendered to your “experiment” and has quieted down for the night. Pat yourself on the back and reflect on your frugal food-less day. Then await the psychedelic dreams of swimming in an ocean of espresso dotted with foamed milky whitecaps.

*Now, I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. So please take my advice with a grain of…oh, never mind.

Laura Cook Newman is a professional Chef and Training Manager for a Fortune 500 food manufacturer. She earned her chops at Johnson & Wales University, has an MBA in Marketing and hosts a blog for behind-the-scenes insights on the food service industry. Contact her at

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Readers Respond

Jean, Gale, Abe, Andi, TaTee, Jeffery, Moe & Nicole: "If a man has nothing to eat, fasting is the most intelligent thing he can do." - Hermann Hesse "Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhiliration of victory" - George S. Patton. Give it a try... By Chef Laura on 2013 04 08
I love the idea. I'm guessing I wouldn't be quite so upbeat by the end of the day! By Jean on 2013 04 08
Yup. Good article. Makes it all sound so easy...Not. But I might try it. Might. Thanks! By Gale Dunlap on 2013 04 06
This geezer only fasts every 5 years for a certain "procedure". I'm cranky enough to begin voluntary fasting for this guy. After reading your article though, I might consider a day without sausage. One day. By Abe Froman, Sausage King on 2013 04 06
I bet I could do it ...and I might try day! Good job, Laura. Keep writing! By Andi Pearson on 2013 04 05
Sounds good in theory.... smile I LOVE FOOD! By Ta Tee on 2013 04 05
Enjoying your cleverness and wit! By Hacienda Maven on 2013 04 05
The Dude, you are correct that the "crankies" will set in. I did my fast on Tuesday when I knew I could limit my exposure to people so they wouldn't incur my wrath. Moe - spot on. I went to bed at 9 pm which is unheard for this night owl. By Chef Laura on 2013 04 04
Interesting article. Never thought about how much money I spend on food in one day. However, not sure I could do it. I get very cranky when I'm hungry. Not pleasant to be around. By Jeffrey Lebowski on 2013 04 04
Hilarious! I have found that the best way to fast is to sleep all day, but it is a good reminder to self what food is in our lives. By moe o. on 2013 04 04
Brilliant fun to read. Thanks for the inspiration...even though I may not agree to FAST! By Nicole Aulik on 2013 04 04
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