Intermittent fasting is on the scene and people are starting to think of it as “normal.” There are many cultures around the world that take a day to fast or fast all day like during Ramadan, where the fast is broken at sundown. Along with the fasting, rest and self reflection are practiced. Note I said rest. Intermittent fasting does not fulfill these requirements of self reflection or rest. Intermittent fasting is popular for weight loss. It is another word for starvation. As we know, when the body is being ignored, it tends to hold on to weight and starvation causes a boomerang effect of weight gain.
Am I against fasting, no I am not, but put it in the correct context. Swami Rama would only drink a cup of goat’s milk all day as he wandered the Himalayan Mountains in contemplation. He wasn’t dealing with the stresses of modern society while ignoring the signs of his body. In contrast, he was listening to his body and all the signs that were coming to him. His intention was to eat to sustain himself but not put a burden on the digestive system thereby releasing that energy for meditation.
In a therapeutic diet, fasting is very beneficial, allowing the body to use its energy stores for healing and repair by resting. Fasting is used when we want to limit the energy used for digesting food. As you know when you are sick you often don’t want to eat. The body is busy trying to get well. Another example is during sleep. We repair our body during sleep. So if the body is free from digestive duties at bed time, it can go into a deeper rest and do what it is designed to do; repair and heal.
These are good examples of how intermittent fasting can be a benefit; the body rests, the mind rests and the body has more energy for healing and repair. But if you are using intermittent fasting for weight loss while rushing around doing your daily activities like working, taking care of family, and socializing, then intermittent fasting is only an additional stressor to your body. Trying to perform in your daily life without eating, will without question, put your body into a tail spin.
Starving ourselves to lose weight has been the cornerstone of many diets for decades. If we have learned anything over the many years of these diet fads it is that starving lowers the metabolism and causes weight gain. This happens because the body is trying to conserve energy. The body responds really well to situations and when it is dealing with food restriction it automatically responds by conserving energy.
Should you fast? Yes you can, under the right circumstances. Turn off the phone, stay at home, read a book, spend time outside, do some gentle stretching, take an Epsom salt bath, get a massage, slow down on the electronics. If you have time to spend a day in this manner and you want to give your digestion a rest by fasting than absolutely do it.
If intermittent fasting is not something to include in your weekly routine what is the best way to lose weight while continuing to eat your three meals? The best way to maximize calorie burning is to truly enjoy your meal. Eating quickly does not allow the body to register the food intake. Sit at a table free of clutter, make it attractive with flowers, candles, maybe pictures of people you love, set the table with a napkin and silverware, use a plate not paper and if you are ordering takeout put the food on a plate.
Next relax and look at the beautiful food that has been prepared. Take a few minutes to inhale the aromas, look at the colors of the food, notice how the food looks on the plate and then give thanks. Give thanks to all the people who helped bring the food to your table; the farmer, the truck driver, the people in the grocery store, the cook. After all of that, then pick up your fork and take your first bite. You will truly taste the food and your satiation will be increased dramatically. You’ll forget all about intermittent fasting because you will be connected with your body, the process and your metabolism will be on fire.
Relax, Slow down and Enjoy...
Transforming Your Relationship With Food
If you want to know more, read
“The 7 Lies We Tell Ourselves That Keep Us From Our “Ideal” Weight.”