I've just undergone a 48-hour fast.
I suppose it was my own silly fault that I'd left lying around a philosophy primer I'd been dipping into earlier in the week, open at the chapter about ethical relativism - headed 'One man's meat...'
I didn't find the challenge all that difficult. It is not hunger that assails one during such a relatively short spell of abstinence, but missing the habits and rituals of regular eating, and the sheer bloody pleasure of it (and the pleasure of preparing food, too). Most of the time, we eat not because we need to, but because it helps to pass the time and we enjoy it. And we're so used to that being a major part of our day that we get very discombobulated when it is suddenly removed. The nagging internal voices do not say, "You must be starving by now. You'll die if you don't eat something soon." They say things like "How can you possibly get through an evening's TV without a snack of some sort? Doesn't it feel weird not to be making yourself at meal at this time of day? What else can you be doing at 6pm??"
My stomach hardly complained at all during those two days. But every time something reminded me of food, my mind went into a bit of a tailspin for a moment. I could have just closed that damn book; but I suppose I wanted to give myself that additional challenge - to face up to the taunting it presented, to begin mastering the spectre it invoked of my habituation to eating.
Having pulled it off once, I think it would get progressively easier if I attempted it regularly. Indeed, I think the mental demons are almost slain by this first emphatic demonstration of will-power. I'd like to do it at least a few times more for confirmation, though. And apparently there are health benefits as well...