It’s one of the newest health things to do. Plus, it’s backed by some science and people often rave about the benefits. This new way of eating has shown up more and more online and in the health world recently. I’m talking about intermittent fasting (IF).
Now, this article is no offense to anyone who has tried IF or swears by it. I know everyone is different, and what seems awful to me might work well for someone else. This is just simply my opinion on the whole thing based on my own experiences and perspective. I’m talking about why I will not do it.
My Issues with Intermittent Fasting
The first problem I have with IF is that to me, it’s another form of dieting.
When it comes to changes we experience from eating choices, consistency matters. So if someone does IF for a certain period of time and experiences weight loss, they would need to continue doing the same thing in order to keep seeing those results, just like with any shift in eating. And I am skeptical that it’s realistic to assume that will always be the case, as schedules and obligations and priorities are constantly changing.
I fear that this can be damaging to the mindset and emotional health of individuals who experience any weight re-gain when things get busy or life changes happen.
If you’re someone with a past of an eating disorder or disordered eating, I worry for you too. That’s because you might be prone to having a perfectionist mindset like me, which pops up again when I try to do things like IF.
I know this because I have tried IF before, twice. The first time, it was a couple years ago when I was working for a meal planning company that encouraged it. The second time, it was last year when I was going through my Institute for Integrative Nutrition classes.
And that’s just during the time when IF was a thing. I went on plenty of diets in my past that discouraged eating between meals or outside of certain timeframes.
In all cases, this led me to obsess too much about what I was putting into my mouth and when. That obsession led to anxiety and shame for feeling hungry or eating at the “wrong” times. The result of that was usually overeating at best and intense binge eating at worst.
For me, food rules = restriction = an unhealthy mind = my eating all out of whack.
For me, I’m far better off listening to my body when it comes to the times I eat. There are some days I wake up and I’m not hungry for a few hours, so I wait to eat until I want food. If I have a really filling dinner in the evening, I’ll go to bed without needing a snack. Other nights, I’ll have something before bed.
When I really think about it, I probably engage in intermittent fasting regularly, but it’s not intentional. It happens naturally for me. And that’s the way I like it: intuitive, simple, self-loving. If I miss out on the benefits of more intentionally fasting regularly but preserve my mental health and happiness, I’m personally okay with that.
If IF works for you and you feel good in mind and body when you do it, that’s great. But for me, when it IS intentional, I feel that familiar panic coming up again — the food anxiety I’ve spent so many years healing myself from. It feels harmful and stressful, and it causes unhealthy eating patterns for me long-term. And I would rather live without that.