Is Empathy only present if you are well and well fed?

Starvation Diet. What is it?

Mmmmmm chocolate, Mmmmmm sandwich, Mmmmmm doughnuts, Mmmmmm beer. Spoilt for choice. Trying to resist. When I resist I put the money in a pot. When the pot is full I send it (the money, not the pot) to somebody who needs it to survive. The art comes about through the documentation of the process, here and in other places. There is no end to this project.

18 Sep 2010

My tea versus their whole days food

The portion I would give myself for one meal.

In the Scales Slightly over the 11.34 Ounces a malnourished child in India would get. Still on the plate, the difference. Of course there food is probably not cottage pie and broccoli.
A part answer to how much food a malnourished person would get each day. Kalyan Puri, india;
"On every street corner of this district, at around noon, a woman with a big tin pot ladles out thick gruel to a stream of small children carrying tin bowls. Each one is meant to get exactly 320 grammes, but few are measuring what ends up in their bowls."

"The results are evident in the charity-run primary school run for street kids behind the police station. Here, teacher Amitha Joshi says many children do not eat from early in the morning when their parents leave home until late at night. "They cannot concentrate, cannot retain any facts, they have serious behavioural problems," she told the Guardian."
Taken from:
I'm off to take a make my tea and will weigh out how much 320 grammes is and take a picture.

13 Sep 2010

It should have been my last day

I should have been celebrating a return to food after a week of porridge and rice today but gave up last Tuesday. The rest of this week has made me feel privileged. Each time I eat I tended to think I could be eating porridge now or this is so much better than rice. In that respect the two days on rations served a lasting purpose. We should really enjoy food. Its ungrateful not to.

9 Sep 2010

Lucky me

I'm feeling pretty lucky today. Just sat here and thought, "I could have a cup of coffee if I wanted to in a bit, or maybe I could have tea."


8 Sep 2010

Why I gave up.

Down the Slippery slope with honey in the porridge

Its like wearing a hair shirt for no reason

I started this extreme part of the project with clear ideas about why I was doing it. It was an experiment in increasing empathy, challenging my thoughts and getting a greater understanding. But with my head like cotton wool yesterday I realised that I was in no fit state to contemplate anything at a higher level let alone debate it in a sensible way. So I have started eating according to the normal starvation diet rules again, resist things I really don't need and give the money to the charity. I still feel the physical effects of the last few days but my head is clearing a little and I should be compus mentus by dinner time.

Friends turning into fruit

7 Sep 2010

Some thoughts on brain functioning and food

Feeling sick

Woke up this morning feeling a bit queasy.

I can't stop yawning and have a bad head

Feeling sick

Woke up Feeling a bit queasy.

Things to research-any help gladly accepted

  • What access to flavours do those on subsistence diets have?
  • Is empathy only a luxury for those who are well and well fed?
  • What is the average portion of food for somebody on a subsistence diet?
  • What are the vital measurements of a starving woman aged 36?
  • What bugs are not killed off from boiling contaminated water?
  • What are the various signs of malnutrition short term?

6 Sep 2010


I'm interested to see how this process of Extreme Starvation Diet helps me to develop more empathy with those on subsistence diets. A few things I have noted so far:
  • When we cut down on food we have the choice to take comfort in other things, hot baths, bad Tv etc. What must it be like to have a life with no sources of comfort.
  • When food has no flavour it become purely about function, food as just function is sad

Some do this for fun

This process I'm going through is something close to the usual mode for dieting. Restricting what you eat in an effort to loose weight relatively quickly. Possibly cooking different meals for yourself and your family. It places so much focus on the lack of food or the change of food that you can't help but feel miserable. Its like giving something up. But as food is actually a pretty good thing, it keeping you alive and all that giving it up becomes nonsensical. The normal Starvation Diet model seems to me to be even more useful after my first day doing this.

Compare and Contrast

We don't live with stark comparisons that much in this country. We see other less fortunate places on the tele but that is just like fiction. Tonight was curious because, for the first of my meals there was a real contrast between what I was eating and what George my son was eating. As I cooked his chicken there were several occasions when my fork was poised over a piece, almost about to eat it. It smelled soooo nice and as it got browner it looked more and more tempting. But resist I did. As we sat down to eat I tried to remain upbeat. The temptation to steal from his plate was high and whilst he has not yet appeared before me as a cartoon chicken leg I can see it going that way. Most of the time he was a typical teenage boy, goading me with forks full of flying chicken and asking me in a sarcastic voice "Is it delicious your tea?". I had to give in a little and add salt and a few chilli flakes.

Before First Dinner Porridge

First dinner half in the bin

First Breakfast


I'm publishing all the videos in their entirety at the moment and will then edit them into one short film later. Funny to see the odd conversations between my son and I.

First Breakfast

5 Sep 2010

The ubiquitous before shots

Was in two minds about doing these as this week is not about losing weight, rather about gaining empathy and insight. But as I want to document all the changes in me I guess I have to do the Physical too.

Last Supper Vid

Last Pud Vid

A day full of last suppers

Chicken and Salford Onions pie
Salford Tomatoes and onions on home made bread
Hollies Cake
Salford and Cuddington Rhubarb and blackberry crumble

The morning before

Ate too late last night and woke with a poorly belly. So the day of last breakfasts, dinners and suppers I've planned has started at a slow pace. I keep looking in the cupboard at the beige food I have to eat over this next week, starting tomorrow. Its not very inspiring but I am pretty excited to see how I will react to it all. Will I just get really grumpy and give up day 1? Will people I'm talking to start turning into chicken legs, cartoon style? We shall see. Will get around to the first of my Video logs tonight so check back here then.

Starvation Diet-The Next Generation

Just created a new blog for those of you out there who want to get involved in Starvation Diet and contribute your ideas and experiences to a blog. Its here:

1 Sep 2010

My Extreme Starvation Diet log

So, its the week before the start of this extreme week. Nothing but water, porridge and rice to eat. Maybe a little milk for the porridge. I've been trying to find out what an average portion of rice or porridge type food would be for a person on subsistence level but can't find any facts. I don't think that I will be going that far and will just be eating enough of the mentioned food to keep myself going at some semi decent level for a week. I am interested though to see what happens to you if you dramatically limit your diet for a week. See my weeks journey on this page.