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Famine3 min read


What would happen if you didn’t eat for three weeks?

Kelsey Campbell
Apr 09, 2019

“I’m starving!”

We’ve all said it at one point or another. Maybe you missed lunch and your stomach was grumbling by the time dinner came around. Or maybe you overheard this complaint coming from your kids in the living room while you finished up cooking a meal.

Whatever the situation, it’s almost always an exaggeration. We know this … because the truth is most of us have never had to go more than a few hours without eating.

But what if you did?

What if, like countless children around the world, you didn’t know where your next meal was coming from? Here’s what would begin to happen to your body:


Let’s say you ate lunch at noon, but you go the next six hours without anything to eat. Basically, your body is fine. The nutrients from your lunch are going to your brain and other vital organs. The longer you go without food, though, the fewer nutrients get to your brain.

This is why you may get headaches or become moody and “hangry” when you haven’t eaten in a while. You may be tempted to shout, “I’m starving!” but at this point, you’re still mostly healthy.


After 12 hours without food, the problems you experience start to become more serious. By the time you get home from work, run errands, do the laundry, watch the news, and get ready for bed — all without eating — you’re more than ready for another meal.

Not only is your stomach telling you it’s time to eat, but so is your brain.

After your body burns through all the sugar from your food, it tries to burn through the fats in your body. But the brain doesn’t break down fatty acids like other organs. So, after 12 hours without food, your mental ability is no longer at full capacity.


Another day goes by, and you still haven’t had anything else to eat.

At this point, your body is literally cannibalizing itself to find nutrients and keep you alive. It breaks down the proteins in your body so you brain has at least something to run on. Muscle mass is the first thing to go — which makes you feel weak and tired, like your body is getting the flu.

Next, your bones start to deteriorate, becoming weak and brittle. You may begin to notice that activities that were simple before like walking or carrying a few pounds are much more difficult now.


Without any vitamins or minerals, your immune system is so compromised that the mildest virus could put you on your deathbed. If you manage to avoid sickness, though, the alternative may be even worse.

Your body will continue devouring any remaining sugars, fats, tissue, or muscle. You will have thin, gaunt limbs and a skeleton-like face, and your ribs will clearly visible through your skin.


Your body no longer has the strength, energy, or matter to keep functioning. Literally, every organ in your body is shutting down without access to food.

The tissue of the heart is the last part to be eaten away. When it becomes too weak to pump anymore, you will most likely go into cardiac arrest and die of a heart attack.

* * *

As horrifying as it is to imagine yourself going through this slow, painful process, it is an even more horrifying reality for countless children around the world … and for their parents who have to watch it happen.

Families will try to outlast starvation by eating grass, melon rinds, or whatever they find in the garbage. There have even been parents so desperate to keep their children alive that they boiled cardboard and fed it to them. But without proper nutrition, these efforts only prolong the agony.

The good news is you have the power to stop starvation in its tracks for one boy or girl. Your $40 gift will provide a child with enough food for an entire year. You can help save a life and allow a child to thrive instead of living his final days in excruciating pain.


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