I watched a documentary last week called “Eat, Fast and Live Longer”. In it, Michael Mosley interviews people who performed research and/or used various kinds of fasting in their diets. He also tries it himself. As a regular listener of various food, health, and “biohacking” podcasts, I’ve heard a lot about intermittent fasting in the past few years. As a woman, I’m not convinced it’s the best regular practice for me, but I thought a short experiment could prove useful for my state of mind.
Not only did I want to test it out for its purported weight loss and longevity benefits, but I thought it might help change my perception of food and how much I really need to eat in a day. I think that I’m a little obsessed with food. When I finish a meal, I often catch myself immediately thinking about the next one…
- When will be my next meal?
- What if I get hungry before then?
- There are six hours between finishing lunch at work and eating dinner at home! Can I go that long without a snack?
- What if my stomach starts growling in a meeting?
- And on and on…
I generally eat good food, but a bit too much of it. I’ll load up with big salad and hot side for lunch, then make sure I have an afternoon snack. Usually it’s a large mug of soup, but I’ll often throw in additional bites of nuts, a bar, some snack food, or hot tea with honey. I like food and think about it a lot; I don’t like the feeling of hunger.
Food has also become part of my identity. Especially when I was doing endurance sports: “Gotta feed the machine” was validation for over-indulging. Sure, the body might need additional calories to refuel after a long, difficult training session, but I had used it as a crutch to justify eating when and what I wanted.
The desired outcome of a day-long fast is that I’ll realize I can function without constant feeding. I can stop worrying about where I’ll get my next meal or if I’ll get caught somewhere with no snack in my purse.
So last Saturday, I had no plans and figured it was the perfect day to give it a shot! Here’s how it went:
- Woke up and went for a walk.
- My one “meal” for the day was a big cup of Bulletproof coffee (blended with butter and MCT oil), which I usually have for breakfast a couple times a week.
- I worked on chores around the house. I felt hungry now and again, but nothing too serious. Realized I should be drinking more water.
- I got light-headed once or twice when bending over or lifting something heavy during my housework.
- Showered and went out for a few errands in my car.
- Came home and spend a couple of hours writing.
- I decided to eat one soft-boiled egg around 4pm. That staved off hunger for a while.
- I then had hot tea with honey around 5:30pm.
- Hunger would come and go throughout the afternoon, but my tummy never growled.
- Drank another hot tea and a fig bar around 8pm, in hopes of not going to bed too hungry.
- Surprisingly, I felt no hunger when reading in bed around 10pm.
- The next morning, I didn’t feel hungry immediately upon waking. When I made scrambled eggs with mushrooms and coffee, it tasted good, but not particularly amazing.
Obviously, I did have some food that day, but dramatically less than I would normally. And the experiment did work! Since that Saturday, I am more consciously listening to my hunger and don’t just assume that I need a big afternoon snack to get me to dinner. My perception of food and how much of it I need is starting to shift. I might fast again to periodically strengthen my confidence if I sense it waning.