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The opening tutorial stated that I needed to eat to stay healthy, but I'm halfway through spring, haven't eaten anything, and have yet to notice any adverse effects. I'm not sure if this means the opening tutorial was wrong, or if there are effects I just haven't noticed.

Are there any side-effects to not eating? Does eating serve any purpose aside from refilling my stamina bar?

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Eating (and sleeping) generally relate to your stamina. If you continually let your stamina drop but not eating AND not sleeping, or sleeping late (after 11 pm), you will start to notice adverse effects. Stormy days burn your stamina faster, so making sure to eat on those days can help you accomplish more in a day.

If your stamina drops during the day, and you don't eat, you will eventually grow tired and if you let it drop completely, you will pass out. When you get to that point, you will notice that your health drops, and you will have to make sure to take care of yourself (by eating and sleeping) in order to build it back up again.

If you generally avoid using most of your stamina in a day, and manage to sleep early on most days, you won't find that there are any adverse effects to not eating.

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Once you unlock the Clinic, the doctor can give you a shot for 1000g that fully restores your stamina or health. You can also eat food at the restaurant most of which restores 1 heart. If your health is low using tools cost more stamina. (Usually it costs 2 if you are at max health, otherwise it can cost 4+ stamina). You start with 100 stamina and it can't be increased. I believe that you also expend more stamina on stormy days. –  Krazer Nov 18 '12 at 5:44

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