Intermittent fasting is a way of eating where you skip or delay meals to keep your body longer in a fasted state. After 12 to 14 hours in this state, your body is depleted of glucose and will start burning fat for fuel. I’ve experimented with fasting for a couple of years now and you can watch some videos I made about it. In this post I share some insights that have helped me fast in a more conscious and effortless way.
Fasting can sound a bit daunting as we often associate it with eating disorders or strict religious practices. When you start eating consciously you notice that your body naturally will go through phases of eating and abstaining from food. Again, we often force ourselves to eat because it’s lunch or dinner time or because we ‘should’ eat as we’re afraid to get hungry later.
The body builds or repairs
As mentioned before, digesting food is very intense for the body. When you are digesting, your body doesn’t have time to internally build and cleanse other things. If you don’t have an appetite, that means that you’re body is doing cleansing and healing. If it’s building, it will need food and tell you.
I invite you to experiment with fasting and naturally gravitate towards an eating pattern that feels natural to you. For me this is eating 2 or 1 meal a day. I often skip breakfast, preferably eat at lunch time and often I’m not hungry at night. Sometimes I eat breakfast and lunch, other days I eat lunch and dinner. Or when I’m really hungry I eat 3 times a day.
This is called ‘intermittent fasting’ and there are many different types:
- 16:8: eating within an 8 hour window
- 20:4: eating within a 4 hour window
- 23:1: eating within a one hour window
- 5:2: eating 3 meals a day, 5 days a week, and 2 days of eating under 500 calories.
- Fasting one day a week
But these eating habits should come natural to you. Nowadays sometimes I do eat one meal a day in an hour, without even trying. Sometimes I eat under 500 calories a day. But I don’t plan or force it.
Intuitive fasting should be easy
Fasting should feel calm, light and energetic. If you’re forcing fasting on yourself, you’ll feel miserable, extreme weakness and starved. If you have to distract yourself to make time go faster from eating, you’re probably not supposed to fast and you’re missing out on the greatest benefits of fasting: coming closer to yourself.
I used to say: now I’m going to fast for x days. But that’s not what you’re supposed to do. Just feel and listen and your body will tell you when it doesn’t need food. The experience will be so much more pleasant. Again, this will only come after you’ve been eating light or healthy for a while. If you’re still overstimulating your body with highly processed foods, it’s hard to hear these signals.
I’ve been on many 16 and 24 hour fasts without any effort. I would still do all my activities, but much more slowly and mindfully.
I do take magnesium supplements during the fast and drink 1 cup of vegetable stock (if it’s under 50 calories, it won’t break the fast) for salt because I have a low blood pressure and this helps me stay in the fasted state.
Please note I’m not discussing fasting to heal illness or severe conditions. This advice only applies to intuitive eating and tuning into your body. Always consult a medical professional if you want to go on extended fasts.
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In this seven part blog series I’ll reveal:
- How to eat consciously, intuitively and mindfully
- How to stop binging
- How to achieve sustainable weight loss
- How to switch to a healthy plant-based diet
- How to fast in a healthy and effortless way
- How to deal with the emotions that come up when switching to a conscious diet
- What to do after a binge eating episode