Cartoonist Lucy Knisley's comic strip about a 7-day-fast


Cartoonist Lucy Knisley went on a seven-day fast and drew a comic about it.

Her work is excellent. I recommend her book, Radiator Days.

Cartoonist Lucy Knisley's comic strip about a 7-day-fast (Via The Daily Cross Hatch)


  1. If I tried a 7 day fast, it would end on day three with me killing and eating large portions of at least two people.

    I’m a bit hypoglycemic.

  2. Right there with you, Boba.

    Very cute comic, but I made the mistake of reading it before eating all day.

    I don’t suggest doing that.

  3. I just saw Knisley over the weekend at MoCCA (the annual comics convention for the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in NYC, an amazing event if you’re into indie comics). I picked up her other book, Pretty Little Book, because I think the color really suits her ligne clair style.

  4. Neat comic, so props for that. But the whole ‘toxins’ bs gets on my nerves. Like the body can’t flush itself out just fine. Toxin’s escaping through the tongue? Right…

  5. I’ve fasted many times, once for 21 days. The evil mood swings are from ketoacidosis, kept at bay by drinking many, many, liquids (more than seems reasonable at the time).

    But the part about cleansing toxins is rubbish.

  6. Do people actually believe that their colons hold on to ‘toxins’ or the preposterous that these ‘toxins’ leave the body by turning ones tongue white?

  7. Too bad the whole “cleanse” thing is complete B.S. (especially the ‘colon cleanse’ aspect). It’s pure quackery, and it’s dispiriting to see so many people fall for it. Especially when a lot of this could actually prove harmful to our bodies.

    “my tongue is turning white from the toxins escaping” uhhh DUH? “Yeah, it’s the baaad spirits escaping my body! Next I’m going to try some crystal healing!”

    I often wonder (I have some ideas) what’s really behind all this preoccupation with making sure our bodies are “cleansed”, even though there is zero scientific evidence to back any of these methods up…

  8. I’d just like to mention that we need to be aware of what does and does not “detoxify” the body. Your liver and kidneys are vital to detoxifying. Sweating and colon blows don’t really help all that much, no matter how much you do it.

    However, consuming less calories is always a plus in this age.

  9. Agreed, cute comic, I’ll have to take a look at more of her stuff when i have time.

    I’ve done the fasting thing from time to time, and it certainly has a positive effect, I felt great, but it is definitely something to be approached carefully. As someone smart once said, any fool can fast, but it takes an expert to stop.

    As far as long term weight loss goes, I found it pretty useless. I have found “The Hacker’s Diet” (google it) absolutely brilliant for real weightloss. It’s an engineer’s approach to losing weight, treating the human body as a machine with inputs and outputs.

    I’ve been losing a steady 1 pound a week for the last six months simply by keeping my calorie intake to around 1600 a day.

    Now for a shameless plug – I built to help me track my weight, and my food intake during the day, and I’ve made it public. If you sign up now, unlimited accounts are free for life.

    There are still a few rough edges, but the important stuff works. It does line and bar charts, will plot weighted rolling averages, and lets you set targets. I’m currently working on adding an API to it, and ultimately a phone app.

    I’d love to have BBers feedback.



    “Many times white tongue happens when people have weakened immune systems and the acidity in the mouth becomes unbalanced.”

    My guess is that if you’re living on lemon juice then the acidity in your mouth is going to become quite unbalanced. As others have said, this “toxins” thing is rubbish.

    But I’m always interested in reading about the crazy things people do, so I applaud this comic.

  11. I really love comfort cookies in addition to comfort cupcakes.

    I also really love comfort vodka.

  12. Second Hacker’s Diet. It works as long as you keep to it. I lost quite a lot of weight just following it and as soon as I stopped following it, I started to get it back. For some people like me, counting and controlling the intake is a must. It’s a lifetime commitment.

    They also have a web interface now.

  13. Yeah, the tongue turning white is due to your normal mouth plaque having a field day while your mouth acidity goes haywire.

    When you chew food your mouth is flooded with saliva. Between the enzymes and proteins in your saliva, and the pure mechanical action of food in your mouth, the bacterial buildup on your tongue and inside your cheeks get washed and scraped off, and swallowed with your food to go die in your stomach acid.

    Drinking doesn’t have the same effect; chewing gum can help somewhat, but won’t have the mechanical action over your tongue.

    Go get a spoon and scrape that plaque off of it (or brush it with your toothbrush). It’ll help your breath too.

  14. Funny comic and she seems like an ambitious person, but does anybody notice the disparity between the way she draws herself and what I can tell of her build in the photo at the bottom.

    Combine the chunky comic book girl and the idea that anybody that looks like her should even consider the idea of dieting or losing weight is ridiculous and I wonder if her body image matches what she truly looks like.

    When I started reading the comic and all the stuff about how she has never been on a diet, how she eats a lot and how she is poochy and I expected the real person to be much more chunky than it appears she is.

  15. @ Jay Acker, it’s hard to tell body type from a face pic and be-hoodied shoulders, but it’s probably that she draws her feeling of her body-image, rather than what her actual body actually looks like. I mean, she doesn’t have manga eyes either, right?

    I like the boyfriend’s character.

  16. I love her comics; haven’t read Radiator Days, but stay away from “French Milk”- it’s horrible!

  17. @ Jay, I don’t think “poochy” means you think you are obese or even fat. I’m a pretty skinny dude (size 31 jeans), who has been growing a steady gut after a year of very little excersise. I’d love to get in better shape, lose the gut, etc. but I’d never say that I’m fat. Poochy, however might fit the bill.

  18. Ignore that “French Milk” comment. I read it and loved it. Just take it for what it is, a light travel memoir in charming cartoon language.

  19. I’ve thought about doing this diet, or something similar. I have several friends who’ve done it. The idea of cleansing my digestive tract is very appealing. However, there are several factors that make it very likely that I’ll never try it.
    A) I like my intestinal flora. They do a lot of important digestive work for me, and I think it would be very dishonorable for me to return the favor by starving them… like throwing the baby out with the proverbial bathwater.
    B) Like commenter #1, I have hypoglycemic tendencies. It can be tricky enough to keep my brain properly fueled on a normal diet. I’m not sure how big of an issue this would be, but having extremely low blood sugar levels can be very unpleasant.
    C) All of the literature on the subject I’ve read talks about “cleansing the body of toxins.” For me, talk of vague and unspecified toxins is a huge red flag. Critiques of western medicine and health sciences aside, I have little use for hippy pseudo-science in my life. Besides rapid weight loss and having your appetite and level of food consumption reset, its hard to nail down real health benefits from this diet. At least not with the information I’ve come across.

  20. This is a fun comic and I enjoyed reading it, but to second some others, the very idea of this is bad. ‘Toxins’ are like ‘quantum’ as a get out of jail free card for gullibility.

    Fasting may cause you to lose weight (if going into starvation mode permits it) but you’ll usually gain it back and more on the rebound. A month long sunup to sundown fast like Ramadan can be interesting for clarity of thought, but isn’t comparable.

    The white tongue and bad breath is not ‘escaping toxins’ but bacteria gone wild in the new environment.

    Not mentioned here, but this Master Cleanse stuff leads you to the ‘psyllium and bentonite shakes’ thing which claims to cleanse ‘impacted mucus fibroids’ off your colon walls (I’m sure you’ve heard the ads). In fact the fibroids are the psyllium gel. So the more you take the more you ‘flush’ from your body! A brilliant scam.

    But fun to read anyhow.

  21. After seeing her photo at the bottom of the post, I’m amazed at how much she looks like her cartoon self, even with the big eyes. Thanks, BB, for introducing me to a new cool cartoon artist.

  22. @7Thomas Wincek: “Too bad the whole “cleanse” thing is complete B.S. (especially the ‘colon cleanse’ aspect).”

    Mr. Wincek, and knowledgable others,
    I hear now and then about some big fat person dying, and the coroner finds like 80 pounds of gawdawful bluch in their colon and intestines. Shoot, I don’t want that. So I’ve been eating a small dinner, and following that with a bowl of cold cereal. It sure keeps me regular, a rarity in life, but am I just fooling myself that all this grain is helping to “sweep out” the bluch from my innards?

  23. @ Troofseeker #24:

    A bowel obstruction is a serious medical condition. If you get one you should take a visit to the E.R., not a new-age spa.

  24. If the “comic” above is consistent with her other work, I might as well be reading Cathy. Not funny.

  25. As usual, any post including anything remotely resembling alternative-health claims on BB is followed by a steady stream of holier-than-thou pooh-poohing of “hippie nonsense”.

    But I don’t see a lot of actual facts in the rebuttals. Just dismissals and eyerolling.

    How about this: instead of getting hung up on a word like “toxins”, think of a fast as ‘giving your body a rest for a few days’. Is that less offensive?

  26. That white stuff on her tongue is thrush, not “toxins”. (i.e. it’s an oral yeast infection, awesome!)

    I don’t see any real problem with fasting. It helps clear the mind and give you new perspectives on life… but it’s a piss poor way to “cleanse” anything. Oh well, better to drink maple lemonade for a week than do something truly harmful.

    By the way, I looooove her art.

  27. @Gobo – Your body doesn’t need a ‘rest’ from food…actually, it needs a steady (that’s important) balance of proper nutrition.

    The U of Pittsburgh Medical Center has a good, basic article about it here:
    but you can search pretty much any hospital’s nutrition guides and find the toxin-flushing diets debunked. Finding credible research backing up these diets is the tricky part.

  28. I read the comic (neat), saw the picture of the skinny hipster girl, and immediately went back to look at the byline of the article. No prizes for having guessed Mark Frauenfelder as usual. Not one playing an instrument this time? ;)

  29. #24 TROOFSEEKER.Taking cereal,roughage,is more
    efficient at the beginning of your day.It descends
    through the alimentary canal ahead of oncoming
    traffic.The U.S. Surgeon General recommends a diet
    containing 20 to 30 grams of fibre a day.My choice
    1/3c Whole Bran,1/4c Wheat Germ,1Tbs Flax Meal,a
    Banana,mashed,1/3c Plain Yoghurt,1/4cSoy Milk, 3
    times a week gives 18 grams.At lunch I eat Ryvita
    with salsa,hummus or guacamole,I’m in like Flynn.
    If you like pasta switch to soba buckwheat noodles
    available a Korean or Japanese stores.You will get
    more benefit from oat bran purchased at a bulk or
    health food store.That’s 18 grams per brekky.I would recommend to anyone ‘The Okinawa Diet Plan’ by the Willcox Bros and Makoto Suzuki.They claim
    Okinawa is home to the longest-lived population
    in the world.In the U.S.A. there are 10 centarians
    per 100,000,in Okinawa it’s 40 per 100,000.Diet is
    a major factor but physical effort is also a very
    important element.No fad fasting over there!

  30. #27 GOBO

    I’d be perfectly willing to accept that detox diets work if you can provide some references to double-blind placebo-controlled trials published in peer-reviewed academic journals.

  31. #27 Gobo: There’s a good reason for that. As you so eloquently put it, this is ‘hippie nonsense’. Simple googling on these all topics will turn up both pages on why this is fake and even more pages from people claiming this will cure all your ills and trying to sell you something. People who read BoingBoing are hopefully mentally active and thinking about things they ingest mentally. We act like we’re dealing with gullible children because we effectively are. Perhaps showing less tolerance than we could, but it gets wearying.

    Suspect /everything/. Keep an open mind. I know some alternative medicine works. But the stupidest thing in the world is to believe everything uncritically just because The Man doesn’t. It’s Republican/Democrat dualism and it leads you to the same stupid mistakes, including being a sucker for sharks who exploit it. Is it too much to ask you think and research? How credulous can you be to think that a white growth on your tongue is FLUSHED TOXINS?

  32. Taking a birth control pill (especially, but really any medication) on day 4 of a fast seems a decent indicator of overlapping ill-conceived control issues.

    Nice drawing though.

  33. Based on this and site samples, I just bought the two books on Amazon (French Milk is nearly sold out, only two left).

    ‘Issues’ are a good thing for an artist. They keep it interesting.

  34. #27, gobo:

    think of a fast as ‘giving your body a rest for a few days’

    I occasionally hold my breath until I become weak and dizzy. I like to think of it as ‘giving my body a rest from air’.

    A friend of mine used to fast from all food and water for a day every month. Something to do with a demon that occasionally lives in rice.

  35. Went on a couple dates with a woman who did all the alternative cures. I was interested in the underlying physiology of the claims. “OK, so you scrape the tongue of toxins. How did they get there, and what are they? Presumably they have some sort of chemical fingerprint whereby you can tell what they are.”

    Of course that’s ‘Western Science.’ Different paradigm, silly rabbit. (Whatever a paradigm is supposed to be–you can find 22 concepts of it in Kuhn.)

    Long story short, that woman did not go on to become my wife.

  36. #33 put it best:
    Suspect /everything/. Keep an open mind.

    Skepticism is valuable, but open-mindedness is equally so. Do I think that this author was a bit silly in assuming that the white film on her tongue was ‘toxins’? Absolutely; five seconds with Google will tell you that’s plaque. Healthy suspicion of quackery is why we’re not sticking flaming wax cones in our ears to remove ‘ear toxins’.

    But blindly, cynically dismissing things that are out of the scope of your own personal experience — that’s closed-minded and immature. As Oldtaku says, be skeptical, but keep an open mind. Do your own research. Try things. It’s a much smarter way to deal with new ideas than dismissing something as basic as fasting as “hippie crap”.

  37. “Do your own research. Try things.”

    Ok, but don’t fall for a bunch of stupid scams. (Which is what this whole “cleanse” fad is).

    I’m REALLY sick of being called “close-minded” and “immature” because I’m skeptical of things that have zero scientific evidence.

  38. Wow! What a wonderful, mixed bag of opinions on fasting and white tongue syndrome! I thank you all, especially the Wiz. That’s a lot of roughage… couldn’t I just eat a corn broom?

    Beanolini really opened my eyes- ‘demons that occaisionally live in rice’- of course! That would account for the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese drawings of children with HUGE eyes (probably a side effect) and of course all the anime videos. For now on I’m cooking my rice. No more raw rice for this boy!

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