I Ate Nothing but Nutella for a Week and Found My Inner Darkness
What happens when you try to live on chocolatey hazelnut spread alone? Turns out you feel like crap.
A lot of people love Nutella. In fact, so many people love Nutella that eating it out of a jar has become a sort of subcultural ritual. It's become a thing. I'm one of those people. I love Nutella, which is how I got led down a dark tunnel and into the worst week of my life.
It all started because I was looking for something to write about. As a young writer, people tell me to write about the things I find exciting. So I was thinking this over and I began to think about Nutella. I tell people all the time that I could live on Nutella, but is it true? What would happen if I ate nothing but Nutella for a week? And that's how I pitched the story. I'd be able to drink whatever I wanted, as long as it wasn't a food substitute. Aside from that I'd eat nothing but the sweet brown spread.
My editor was a little nervous about the story, but also curious, and I got the green light. I bought two jars from my supermarket and decided to start on Saturday. I was set.
Day 0: Saturday, 6 PM. Weight: 146 pounds
I spent the first night roaming around the city with a friend, just feeling great. I finished the first jar in a few hours and felt even better. This would be a breeze.
Day 1: Sunday. Weight: 145.5 pounds
It's not completely unusual for me to eat Nutella first thing in the morning, so I ate my breakfast with a smile and thought about how amazing it is to be a grownup who can ruin his insides at will. A few hours later I was sitting on the balcony with a few housemates—the sun was shining and the sky was blue. We sat in weather-worn chairs, drinking whiskey and laughing. Then we headed for the park.
At the park we listened to Jimi Hendrix and Joey Badass and drank some more—always a marvelous idea with a stomach full of Nutella.
Then at about 7 PM I stumbled home and vomited brown acid into the toilet. This was the first sign of trouble.
Day 2: Monday. Weight: 143 pounds
I was hungover. My head was killing me, and I needed pizza. I staggered from bed to the bathroom and yep, I also had diarrhea. In the kitchen my housemate gave me a bemused look and chuckled. "Still doing that Nutella thing?" he asked. "Yeah," I replied darkly.
We went outside, and he was talking but I wasn't listening. My mind was foggy and my ears felt blocked. I had no energy, and by the end of the day I was starving; the thought of chocolate hazelnut spread down my esophagus made me want to spew. Finally it was 8 PM. I could smell one of my housemates heating up pizza. The sadistic asshole.
Day 3: Tuesday. Weight: 142 pounds
The day began with me watching a guy on the train munch on toast with peanut butter. After three days of nothing but chocolate-hazelnut spread, my sense of smell had become heightened. I could smell every molecule of salt in that peanut butter and it was all screaming my name. I wanted peanuts and I wanted a burger. A nice cheesy bacon monstrosity. God, please.
I got to work and headed straight for the toilet; more diarrhea. Then I ate "breakfast" at my desk, which resulted in the familiar sugar high. I buzzed for the next few hours, but it didn't last. By late afternoon someone told me I looked sick. I admitted that I felt sick. I tried to type but my brain wouldn't cooperate. I went outside for fresh air and clarity, but it just made me cold and sleepy. Put simply, I'd crashed.
On the tram home my stomach rumbled loudly and I was sure everyone could hear. They all knew what I was doing. I was the lead character in Edgar Allan Poe's Tell-Tale Heart, only I was being driven mad by a sweeter, more sinister substance. Finally the tram stopped and I shuffled out, certain beyond all doubt that everyone was watching.
Day 4: Wednesday. Weight 141 pounds
Crash day. I was in a big, dark N-hole and although I was supposed to go to my college classes, I couldn't. Hell, even getting out of bed was a struggle. It was early afternoon when my phone rang. It was Julian, my editor. "Hey bud, we're thinking maybe we should pull the story," he said. "Frankly, we're surprised you're still going with it, and we're concerned about your health." With those words an instant montage of food danced through my head. Though I was tempted, I couldn't quit. Who would read about a guy eating Nutella for three days? People probably do that all the time. It's not crazy; it's not even interesting. I decided to push on.
I spent the afternoon trying out different ways to make Nutella more enjoyable. I froze it to give me something to chew on. It was good to use my jaw, but the taste didn't improve. Then I melted some into my coffee. This turned out to be amazing, and you should totally try it.
Day 5: Thursday. Weight: 140.8 pounds
Thursday was a bad place, a harsh dark brown soulless realm. It's incredible how something as simple as food can have such dramatic effect on mental health. By this point, I was basically living in a state of insanity. Nothing was real, and my concentration was shot to pieces. All I could do was stare and think about sleep.
That night I visited my mom and was greeted by the smell of cooking pasta. It almost sent me over the edge. She took one look at me and told me to stop. She thought I was crazy and didn't understand the impact it would have on my health. I told her she didn't understand quality journalism.
Day 6: Friday. Weight: 140 pounds
All day I had a mantra. It went: Tomorrow I will be eating. Tomorrow I will be eating. Tomorrow I will be eating.
I spent that night at a friend's place in Fitzroy. We sat around a fire and talked about dumb shit. My mood was a mixture of joyful anticipation and resentment. I was nearly eating, but I wasn't eating yet. I found the fire 100 percent fascinating.
Day 7: Saturday. Weight: 139 pounds
I'll never forget that morning. I felt like an 8-year-old waking up on Christmas. I got out of bed, almost laughing with delirium. I'd made it and I celebrated with a roasted pork sandwich so big that I could barely get my mouth around it. Pure joy.
I've now been back on a regular diet for about three days. Looking back, I think that was the most emotionally diverse week of my life. I'd fall into pits of sadness for absolutely no reason at all, then I'd be joyful and hyperactive just as quickly. And I was so confused all the time. Following and processing things that people said was a task. Then there were moments that I truly felt as though I was losing my grip on reality. I spent some nights pacing around my apartment, wondering whether this self-inflicted torture was worth it. Then I'd look into the mirror to see a dark eyed zombie glaring back at me, demanding that I eat some goddamn celery.
Right now I can say that I don't like Nutella. But maybe talk to me in a month.
Follow David on Twitter.