Aside from the days when I would occasionally give in to my animal cravings, I'd never consciously made the decision to become a ravenous, impulse-driven monster. I have friends who eat large pizzas in one sitting, consistently crush candy bars, drink so much chocolate milk they vomit, etc. I wondered why that didn't appeal to me. Was there something fun I was missing out on with my disciplined and strict lifestyle? Was I weak and boring for not taking my eating decisions to the extreme? Was I a dry vagina for not dabbling in these acts of gluttony and enjoying my life?
To find out, I decided to do a serious gorging. I went with The Filthy Animal Program because they provide daily support for "not being a pansy and ordering another round," with 24/7 vice coaches. When you're experiencing doubt concerning whether or not you're rapidly killing yourself and uncertainty with the credibility of the program, it's reassuring to receive text messages from these coaches saying, "We all die in the end, have some fun," and "Nothing matters, do what feels good right now."
For 21 days in the middle of a mundane and dreary summer, I consumed nothing but sugar, gluten, dairy, dark meats, nightshade vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants), alcohol, and (the fuel for the churning and yearning engine) caffeine.
Here's what I learned:
1.) You lose complete control of rational decision making and become a slave to emotional hunger.
Real hunger comes on gradually, while emotional hunger grips your willpower and throttles it violently for immediate gratification. During the gorge, my experience of real hunger disappeared, while my emotional hunger (E.H.) took complete control. EH would unpredictably strike and cause me to give up whatever I was doing, no matter how important, and feel an unbelievable desire for a greasy slice of pizza, a cup of coffee, or a beer. Even when I was full, EH would cause me to experience unaccountable yearnings to eat JUST SOMETHING! ANYTHING! RIGHT NOW! COVER UP AND TEMPORARILY BURY THE GAPING VOID INSIDE! One time, I cut off an elderly woman who was waiting in line at the grocery store, knocking her over and ignoring her feeble cries for help, in order to purchase and devour a bag of Hershey's Kisses.
2.) Sugar is a devious son-of-a-bitch.
Even natural sugars. Like dried fruit. A few days after the gorge started I eat a small bag of raisinets. Shortly after, I went on a run. Towards the end of the run, after a bout of explosive diarrhea, I had a sugar crash so extreme that I collapsed on the sidewalk and began having convulsions. Luckily, there was a 7-11 a block away, where I was able to chug a Coca Cola and eat some disturbingly imperishable fries. I told the concerned cashier about my project and he asked me why I was doing this to my body. I replied, "Because I'm an animal. A very hungry animal."
3.) Excess gluten submerges your mind in a swamp.
During my senior year in college I participated in a "flapjack challenge" with my cross country team. I eat a pancake with a diameter of 3 feet in forty two minutes. After conquering this noble challenge, I literally felt drunk. The gluten had put my mind in a drooping, amorphous daze. For the next two hours I was slurring my words, giggling at innocuous things, dizzy, and stumbling. Then I fell asleep at 2pm and woke up at 10pm with a hangover. While on the gorge, you constantly feel like this. You're either drunk on booze or flour.
4.) You can nap whenever you want. Whenever.
It doesn't matter if you're at a funeral for a lost loved one, about to have sex with a supermodel, or on a rollercoaster, when on the gorge you can fall asleep unexpectedly AND on command. Your gluten daze makes you feel like you have just emerged from a coma or have just worked hard all day doing intense, manual labor. Except you haven't done anything. You just eat a lot of food and feel like a slug.
5.) You develop odd aches and suspicious pains.
Despite being an athlete, 26, and at the peak of physical fitness, when I began the gorge I developed shooting pricks and dull aches in my neck, shoulders, thighs, and strangely enough: my left butt cheek. One moment you're sitting calmly in a chair sucking down a chocolate malt, and the next moment you feel a stabbing pain radiating from your ass to your upper back. Frequently, your muscles tremble for no apparent reason.
6.) Caffeine becomes a stabilizer. If you don't have it, you become murderous and insane.
Before the gorge, I would have a respectable 3-6 cups of coffee a day. But a week after beginning this experiment I had to have a Red Bull or a Starbucks double espresso in my pocket AT ALL TIMES. These stimulating liquids were my only means to counteract the throbbing headaches and violent mood swings. How else am I supposed to go to work and do my job when I feel like a twitching, bi-polar pancake?
7.) Cheat when you want – just make sure you slide right back into your pit of misery.
I recently was at a friend's house for dinner when I realized that there was nothing on the table but salad, green tea, and fruit. All I wanted was to shoot up Big-Mac sauce directly into my veins. After putting those tasteless leaves into my mouth and sipping liquid grass, my mood immediately lifted and I felt like I was basking in a gentle glow of satisfaction and well being. For a moment, I was happy and hopeful and wanted to achieve all the goals in my life. Luckily, my friend had ice cream in his freezer. I snuck into the kitchen during the middle of the meal, grabbed a pint, and eat the whole thing in the bathroom on the toilet. Guilt, shame, and self-loathing immediately were restored. That's better.
8.) You can still be social, but you probably won't.
I had friends say, "See you in hell!" when they found out I wasn't going to touch anything that wasn't fried or manufactured by a machine. I was determined not to let this gorge get me down, despite all the warnings of friends and family. So for an entire week I turned off my phone, shut myself up in my apartment, repeatedly ordered Chinese, and watched 100 hours worth of "Between Two Ferns."
9.) Tinder dates while on the gorge are entertaining.
As luck would have it, I had numerous girls willing to go on tinder dates with me while I was on the gorge. Getting to know someone while excessively eating and drinking is a wonderful way to test the limits of social boundaries. One girl, Michelle, stormed out of the bar after thirty minutes of witnessing my degradation, yelling, "You're nothing but a useless pig!"
10.) I felt bloated, sick, and my skin had a death-like pallor.
Naturally, I gained a bit of weight. What I didn't expect was how my skin became so pale that it almost looked green. Also, there seemed to be an overall increase in inflammation and an increase in bloating. Hello, half-dead beluga whale!
11.) Pooping has never been such a struggle.
Oh man, I could go on and on about this. Suffice it to say that "giving birth" has a whole new meaning to me now.
12.) Including friends is fun. And dangerous.
During The Filthy Animal Program, I had multiple friends jump on board. Some would try and stay with me for a day, visiting buffets, convenience store raiding, fast-food-chain hopping, etc. This provided me with moral support. One time, though, Billy had to make a pit stop at the E.R. He couldn't handle it.
13.) I now let my whims and greed choose every single thing that goes into my body.
"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be: a ruthless, maniacal black hole." –Lao Tzu
14.) After doing this, I feel like I can't do anything productive at all.
Next to working on a book entitled, I'm Not Gonna Tell You What It's Called, this is probably the biggest challenge I've taken on in a long time. And it wasn't as hard as I thought. As the saying goes, "Being happy with imperfections are excuses for doing whatever the fuck we want." You'll be surprised what you can achieve when simple tasks like washing your hands feel like impossible, complex problems. All you have to do is stare at your beer-stained, greased slathered bed sheets and say, "I'm never going to wash that." And when you hit that inevitable creative wall, just parody a mind-body-health article you stumble upon on the internet and cry yourself to sleep.