Why I don't recommend intermittent fasting
I was recently talking with a client about intermittent fasting - which I firmly believe to be essentially starvation, and therefore, not the best idea - and my brain pinged on this one message.
Let me start from the beginning.
Dieting and diet culture are all about two things:
1.) Get skinny
2.) Get it fast
Guess what? If it happens fast, it's not sustainable, and if it's not sustainable, it won't last.
Read that again, and tell me it's not true.
How many diets have you invested time and money into, lost the weight, then gained it all back, and maybe more?
Diets work on creating some sort of deficit, typically calorically, but sometimes by also cutting out entire macronutrients (low/no carb) or consuming an unbalanced amount of macronutrients (Ketosis or high protein).
Did you lose weight - yes, but you probably also scarified longterm health for short-term goals. You disrupted hormonal balances in the body, created an environment of stress, and that will affect longevity.
The body works it's butt off to keep up alive. It is so intelligent, but it can only do that for so long. It wants to keep you alive today, but makes no promises that it will be able to continue to provide you with health later in life if you do not take the time to properly fuel it.
Back to my story. So this client brings up intermittent fasting, because in a society built around thinness and diet culture, it is so freaking hard to say "no" to these absurd eating rules. I get it, and I've been there. I still go there sometimes too.
I sent a response back that I truly thought would finally help her understand the very twisted societal view on food that permeates our rational thinking, being a certain size, and getting it quick - and it finally clicked for her.
So I'll share the same message with you if you are considering restricting, cutting out entire food groups, or attempting to ignore the signs of the body like hunger...
What if you daughter came to you and said she was doing this diet? Would you encourage her to not eat for hours out of the day and ignore the sign of hunger? Would you encourage her to fear carbs? Would you encourage her to restrict her calories to such a small amount that she could potentially lose her cycle? Would you stand by while she obsessively tracks her food?
Or would you encourage her to shop for fruits, roots, protein, and to begin cooking her own meals to avoid the heavily processed stuff? Would you explain that food is fuel and a gift that should be enjoyed? Would you teach her to move and eat and think and live as if she LOVED her body?
So what to do instead?
1. Start eating regularly to balance blood sugar. No more skipping breakfast (or other meals). Start small if you have trouble eating with just doing a piece of fruit or eating a little something every 3 hours, and as you begin fueling the body, the hunger with return and you'll be able to consume full meals further apart.
2. Fruits, Roots, Cooked Veggies, Quality Protein (eggs, collagen, bone broth, meat), and Fat (butter, coconut oil) This is your shopping list. Buy a cook book and get to chopping!
3. Begin listening to the body and asking what it needs. This is the hardest part because our minds (fear) will try to override what our bodies are saying - "I need rest" and then the mind freaks out that if you miss the workout you'll gain weight. Silence these fear thoughts and truly tap in to what the body is asking for - food, rest, movement, a break, sleep, water - the body is always talking to you.
4. Redefine your definition of health. The World Health Organization defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." Complete MENTAL well-being. Dieting affects mental health, not only long term health. Begin healing your mind to heal your body.
It's time we start speaking to ourselves like we do our daughters, sisters, and best friends. It's time we value our health and body, and make choices that show love in this way. It's time to stop DIEting, and start LIVING whole and healthy lives.