Have you ever tried Intermittent Fasting?
What about going 24 hours without food?
I used to be a big advocate of this and I still am, to a point…
What I’ve started to notice is that some people (including myself) can use fasting as something negative instead of something positive.
This can lead to unhealthy relationships with food and create eating disorders.
This is something that I did to myself in the past and I don’t want the same outcome for you.
That’s why today’s topic is so important to me, it’s because it hits so close to home.
How It Can Be Used Wrong
When I was younger and I wanted to lose weight, I would follow an Intermittent Fasting regime of 16/8 which meant 16 hours I didn’t eat food and 8 hours I did eat food.
This was a great way to help me lose weight since it meant I skipped breakfast and I was never hungry in the morning anyway.
Because I skipped breakfast, it was an easy way for me to decrease my calories without really trying.
However, the problem would be when it came to socialising.
If I wanted to go out with friends on the weekend or we would go to dinner, I would increase my fasting window and not eat until dinner time.
This gave me “free reign” to pick and choose as I pleased and I would usually go way too overboard.
I’d choose the most calorie-dense, shitty food.
I’d order dessert and usually, after dinner and a few drinks, I’d then pig out with some late-night snacks.
Needless to say, I would starve myself all day, only to turn around and binge on everything, eat way over my calorie deficit and then feel guilty.
The following day is where it would be worse, because of my “stuff up” the day before, I would punish myself by not eating.
I’d just do a 24 hour fast and not eat until the following day to “make up” for the food I overate the night before.
Creating a vicious cycle
At first, this seemed to be fine because after a day of fasting I’d be right back on track.
The problem was after doing this a few times, I wasn’t able to control myself the day after my fast.
So I would eat like a madman one night, fast the following day and then I’d start to get really bad cravings again the day after and I’d end up overeating the following day.
This slowly turned into a vicious cycle of binge eating then starving myself and I was developing an unhealthy relationship with food.
I was using food as a reward and punishment system and was teaching myself bad habits, habits that still work against me to this day, if not controlled.
I’ve seen a lot of people fall into the same trap I did and start to use not eating as a punishment for overdoing it on a weekend.
I don’t want you to get into this bad habit.
Ask yourself, would you starve your friend if they told you the drank too much on the weekend or ate a pizza?
Fuck no, so don’t do it to yourself.
Don’t Create Bad Relationships With Food
Whenever you put food on a pedestal you’re setting yourself up for an unhealthy relationship.
If you’re using food as a reward and punishment mechanism, you’re going down an unhealthy route that is going to be hard to recover from.
You don’t want to be obsessing over food every day of your life and setting yourself up for a binge and restriction cycle that will cause massive issues.
You want to use food to help you achieve your goals.
Whether that be eating for weight loss, eating for muscle gain or just eating for overall health.
Regardless of your goal, your food is going to help you move towards it, and you can’t demonise it or put it on a pedestal, you have to use it as a helping hand.
Creating better relationships with food
To create better relationships with food, you are going to have to make some changes and not use it as a punishment.
If you’re currently dieting and you’re trying to lose weight then you are going to need to do this and it’s going to be hard.
If you’ve been consistent with your food intake, you’re losing weight and you’re doing all the right things but then you have a day where things go to hell and you overeat, you just need to accept it.
It’s much harder to practice then it is to write but you really have to make an effort to not punish yourself for the past.
If you ate like shit the night before, do not restrict yourself severely and give yourself the feeling of deprivation.
Instead, focus on getting back to normal or eat just a little bit less.
When you can accept that you made a mistake and you get back on track you’re changing the way you think.
You’re human and you’re going to mess up, there will be weekends when you overeat and you just have to be ok with it.
As long as you’re consistent with your diet and you’re able to rein it back in the day after, you’re going to be fine.
Hell even if it’s two “bad days” in a row and you pull it back in you’re going to be fine.
Just don’t try and counteract a day of “bad eating” with a day of no eating.
So Is Fasting Bad?
Now going back to my original point, fasting is not bad and it still works for some people.
If you’re someone who can skip breakfast and not feel hungry and deprived (like me) then it’s a great tool.
I still do 14 – 17 hours a day, but that’s as far as I’ll go.
Anything more and I know I’m going to overdo it and swing into binge mode.
If you’re using fasting as a punishment tool or to “save up” for a binge night then it’s unhealthy.
Are you’re doing long periods of fasting as punishment or if you do whole day fasting and it causes you to overeat the following day then it’s not healthy.
If you find you don’t binge, you don’t get hungry and it doesn’t take any effort on your behalf then use that to your advantage.
You need to be aware of what your habits are like and how you respond when it comes to fasting or any diet.
So please, don’t go down the route of creating bad eating habits and take care of your mental health around food.