I’m pleased to share a guest post from Juliette Morris, founder of ifasters.com. After my doctor recommended I try fasting to re-teach my body how to burn stored fat, I went right to my computer to learn more. I was dismayed to find very little information on fasting for women. Enter Juliette Morris. She’s been there, done that. Plus, she recognizes how fasting can be less of an “extreme sport” of eating and more of a healing tool for gals who’ve always fought with food. This is critical to me, as our bodies are one-of-a-kind, and we each need a tailored approach to food which fits with our lifestyle and temperament. Intermittent Fasting is one option. Enjoy!
With the pressures of today’s society, even the smartest, most sensible and health conscious women can mistreat their own body in favour of being slim. I don’t think any of us would recommend half of the things we do to our own body’s to anyone else, yet it seems to be ok for us. Why is that?
As a health professional I can tell you first hand that, even though us women might know what’s good and healthy for us, it can all easily go out the window if we think we might get fat.
60% of women in the western world have some form of disordered eating habits. That doesn’t mean they have an ‘eating disorder;’ it can be cutting out entire food groups (like carbs, wheat, dairy, sugar) or eating a strict diet every day or calorie counting at every meal. But it still means that we’re not eating ‘normally’.
So if you think about it, that’s MOST of women that you know who either openly or secretly restrict themselves in some way and are probably having a secret love-hate relationship with food.
But with so many diets and gimmicky weight loss tricks out there these days how do we know what to listen to?
After a a decade of trying every fad diet possible from my early twenties onwards I became a chronic yo-yo dieter and fluctuated in weight constantly. I learned the hard way that I wasn’t being clever by eating a low calorie diet or eating boring diet foods all the time because I started to create food anxiety and ‘food OCD’. I was constantly thinking about the foods I’d banned from my diet, when my next meal would be, what it should be, how many calories to eat and….well you get the idea. I started to not really enjoy food anymore. It was a horrible way to live.
Little did I know, we don’t only have to satisfy our ‘physical hunger’ we also have ‘emotional’ or ‘physiological hunger’ which can only really be tamed by eating a variety of satisfying and soul nourishing foods and being able to eat without any feelings of anxiety or guilt.
After yo-yo dieting for some time it became harder and harder to lose the weight and eventually I was heavier than when I first started and it just wasn’t going to budge. Studies now show that dieters will almost always put the weight back on (and then some) because diets are just not sustainable. If only I had known that back then! It was too late; I had already created food OCD that would take a long long time to undo.
My food anxiety meant that as soon as I even thought of losing weight it just made me think of depriving myself so I thought about food even more! So losing weight felt like an impossible feat. I was in quite the conundrum.
After trying a plethora of fad diets, I stumbled upon intermittent fasting in 2010. It sounded pretty straight forward, you fast (only drink non-caloric drinks or a set number of calories) for a period of time and for 2 days of the week then the rest of the week you can just eat normally. It sounded too good to be true!
The science behind it was sound and made sense. If we eat sporadically, the way our ancestors did, our body has a break from digesting and can switch from using blood sugar for energy to using our fat stores. Also by having sporadic periods of very low calories (like our ancestors did) our body won’t slow down our metabolism like it would if we were eating low calories every day (like if we were on a diet) so we stay at our fat burning peak all of the time.
Not only did I lose the weight and keep it off but the best thing I could have ever hope for happened. My food OCD and anxiety disappeared completely. To me this was the biggest relief of all and I was finally free to enjoy food again.
I have to admit that because of my history with dieting and sticking to low calorie diet plans, I found the prospect of fasting terrifying. So with the knowledge from my role as a rehabilitation consultant I created a weekly plan over 4 weeks to ease into it gradually.
Eventually I was not only going for 24 hours without food I was also feeling completely comfortable about going without food because I knew that during the rest of the week there were no food restrictions. In a strange way, the non-restrictive nature of intermittent fasting meant that I didn’t actually crave any bad food or have the urge to binge afterwards.
I set up a website at ifasters.com and wrote a book for Kindle ‘Intermittent Fasting for Women’ with a plan for each ‘Eating Personality Type’ because I knew there would be women out there just like me with a history of dieting who would need to ease into it very slowly.
Now I can honestly say that I can enjoy eating food without feeling anxious about what I eat and feel comfortable in the knowledge that as long as I stick to my easy fasting routine I’ll be keeping the weight off and getting some of the health benefits at the same time.
Intermittent fasting has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life and that’s why I spread the word as much as I can in the hope that other women will find it just as life changing and liberating.
In a strange way, the non-restrictive nature of intermittent fasting meant that I didn’t actually crave any bad food or have the urge to binge afterwards.
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