We are nearing the end of our month-long discussion of June’s Diet of the Month, The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day and Extended Fasting by Jason Fung, MD and Jimmy Moore–which is good, considering it is now AUGUST!!
I have really enjoyed reviewing this book and have learned so much by taking intermittent fasting for a spin. I don’t know about you, but I am such a creature of habit and choosing an eating plan that was off my beaten track really brought to light a few habits I didn’t even know I had! Shaking things up a bit is a great way to break out of a rut, whether you’re struggling to get the pounds off or just feel bored with your daily fare.
Intermittent fasting was definitely a new experience for me and after trying it out for an entire week, I’ve come away with a few tips that will help you to be successful should you decide to give intermittent fasting a try. While some of these tips would apply to pretty much any diet plan, others are fairly specific to fasting.
- First things first: get your head in the game. If you imagine you can just waltz through a week (or more) of intermittent fasting without some mental preparation, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise.
- Consider going in via the shallow end if you’re new to fasting. If you have never gone 12 hours without eating, that’s probably where you should start. But, if a 12-hour fast poses no challenge, try an 8:16 schedule or one of the gentler fasting schedules included in The Complete Guide to Fasting. As Fung would say, there is no single, right way to fast and there are countless options for designing your own.
- Lean hard on that coffee (or tea) and bone broth – As I’ve mentioned many times before, I do not think I could have gotten through my 24-hour fast days without these on hand. The coffee with half and half really made it possible for me to survive the morning without breakfast and a hot bowl of bone broth loaded up with herbs got me through to dinner.
- Stay busy – Fung mentions this bit of advice several times in his book and I couldn’t agree more. A bit of distraction can make all the difference when you’re trying to get through a longer fast. Whether tackling a project at the office, working in the garden, or re-organizing the garage, keeping yourself occupied can take your mind off of eating.
- Stay Out of the Kitchen If at All Possible – Unless you are a glutton for punishment, try to avoid hanging out in food areas while you are fasting. Appetite is driven by more than just hunger pangs; virtually all of our senses can signal to us that it is time to eat.
- Emphasize fats – Though many of us have been ingrained with the notion that low- or no-fat is the way to go when trying to lose weight, this might not always be the best advice. By making a point of including more fats during my week of intermittent fasting, I frequently ended up eating less than expected simply because I felt full with a smaller portion.
- Prepare in advance a few grab-and-go meals that are appropriate for your eating plan – For myself, I found having such things as hard-boiled eggs, cooked bacon and breakfast sausage, grated and/or sliced cheeses, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, pre-made salad, cooked and sliced meats, and (last but not least) a batch of homemade pho bone broth stashed in the fridge to be of immense help. You don’t want to ever be scrambling for something to eat. That is a recipe for diet disaster.
- Have a few easy swaps in your bag of tricks so you don’t wind up playing the short order cook – Part of the beauty of intermittent fasting is its simplicity! Don’t make life difficult by thinking you have to cook food for yourself that’s entirely different from what the rest of the family is eating. For example, if you’re making pasta with bolognese sauce for dinner, you can easily serve up spaghetti noodles for the crew and steamed zoodles for yourself. Or, if fajitas are on the menu, offer a plate of warm tortillas as well as lettuce leaves for wraps. These little swaps take at most 3 extra minutes to prepare, but will make meal times less stressed for everyone.
- On longer fasting days, break your fast gently – Try having something small 30 or so minutes before your meal. Chew your food well and eat slowly. Wolfing down a plateful of food after a stint of fasting is a sure fire way to get a bellyache.
- If at any point during your fast you feel dizzy or nauseous, you should seriously consider ending your fast and having something to eat – Fung emphasizes this point as well. You should not feel bad while fasting. If you do, you might want to try a shorter fasting period or a different intermittent fasting schedule.
Intermittent fasting is a fairly straightforward and simple way to try to lose weight, but it is not without its challenges. Though there isn’t much heavy lifting in the kitchen, any serious change to your eating habits is going to require planning and commitment. If you’re thinking intermittent fasting might be a good fit for you, I hope these tips will help you reach your goals!