Food became an absolute chore and he found himself glumly forcing it down his gullet. After talking with some friends who were about to start fasting for very different reasons, he decided he would try a short period of mild deprivation to restore his appetite. And the idea of cleansing his digestive system was pretty appealing as well.
"I had terrible IBS as a kid. I had a hole in my intestines. I lost my Godfather to colon cancer. And then I heard John Wayne died of stomach cancer and he had 40 pounds of caca in his intestines." Although the rumor is of questionable authenticity, that "shit" scared Campbell into trying a cleanse. "Working out and trying to gain weight was flooding my organs. Fasting gives your body a break."
Campbell started with what's known in some religious communities as a "Daniel fast," a biblically-based partial fast. "I started with two days of raw fruits and vegetables only, and tons of water. The third day, lots of vegetables and some vermicelli noodles. Then seven days of lots of green vegetables, small amounts of yogurt and protein only," he says.
"It wasn't easy. I was literally like this," he gripped an imaginary piece of food and raised his hand to his mouth. "I was so used to doing this that I had to literally pull my hand from my mouth. As far as tasting, how can you cook and not taste things? Luckily I'm the sous chef, and I have cooks that I can rely on."
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The fast worked. By the end of it, he was once again excited by the idea of flavorful gourmet foods. In the month that followed, he gained eight pounds on top of the seven he regained after shedding them during the fast. But a burning hunger isn't all he came away with.
"I learned discipline in my eating habits, and how much harder your digestive system works to break down meat and carbs, leaving you feeling sluggish and low energy," Campbell said, adding that it was helpful to know that two close friends were fasting along with him. "You are what you eat. You get what you give. I would definitely try it again. I plan on going a little more extreme for the next fast."
The effects of the fast, including an increased mindfulness about the food he eats, are still with him. "I slowly worked my way back into complex carbohydrates, and I still try to refrain from white flour, red meat and just recently milk," he said, adding that he thinks the decreased dairy consumption helped clear up his skin. He plans to go even more extreme for his next fast, which he's slated for this month.