On the day of my 31st and “Champagne” Birthday, I have a confession to make… without actively trying to do so, I kind of partake in intermittent fasting sometimes.
It’s not what you think though!
But before we get started you should know this is not a discussion of the science behind intermittent fasting or a review of it’s efficacy for weight loss ( which is how it is often used and a topic I’ve already discussed)
No, in fact this is simply a personal reflection of how I have inadvertently used intermittent fasting as a means of intuitive eating and what I like to call hunger management.
You are probably thinking ” Andy, what does that even mean?!”
Allow me to explain..
This past year was the first of my 30s and as someone who enjoys consuming a large volume of food, especially later in the day, I’ve definitely began to experience that I am just not as hungry as I was in my 20s.
The problem is that my desire to eat large meals still hasn’t changed.
Keep in mind that this has nothing to do with weight or calories and everything to do with hunger
For the record, I’ve never tracked or counted calories and I have not weighed myself since my office scale broke last year and I had to bring my home scale to the office.
So what’s all this fasting stuff you’re talking about?
Well, in years past I would be able to enjoy my massive nightly meals and still be hungry for breakfast the next morning.
More recently I found myself much less hungry at breakfast ( and sometimes even at lunch) and just eating these meals for the sake of “getting them in”.
So guess what I do now? I listen to my body!
Which means , if I’m not hungry from a massive evening meal ( which again, happens sometimes not all the time), I don’t feel the need to eat breakfast.
On some days, if I am really really full, I won’t eat lunch either and will just wait to eat a very large dinner.
This is pretty much what is known as intuitive eating, but also technically is fasting as well.
But Andy, breakfast is the most important meal of the day?!
Breakfast has a lot going for it, the most important thing being that it may represent an opportunity for many people to eat healthy foods that they may not eat at other times of the day.
Oatmeal, yogurt, milk(s), fruit, nuts, seeds, avocado and the list goes on.
Breakfast often tends to be a person’s healthiest meal of the day, and certainly people who skip breakfast may fall short in some of the nutrients that common breakfast foods offer ( as per above).
My “hunch” is that this will become more clear once new Health Canada CCHS nutrition data becomes more widely reviewed, published and available.
For the record, that does not mean you need to eat breakfast to be healthy, although it may certainly confer hunger management and other advantages to some people.
Back To Fasting
So yea, technically if I eat a huge meal at midnight and don’t eat again until a mid afternoon lunch or snack, I’ve technically fasted for 14 hours.
And it happens once in a while, when I feel like it is the right thing to do.
So I guess that’s intuitive intermittent fasting?
Doing this once in a while offers me some advantages that improve the quality of my life*:
1. Can sleep more, worry about breakfast less.
2. Worry less about buying/prepping lunch.
3. Build up a lot of hunger for later in the day, which is the time I truly enjoy eating. Although, I do love eating at any time of the day and I do love breakfast foods ( which for me include soy milk, fruits, nuts, seeds and avocados).
*which is the main reason why you should make dietary changes, right?!
1. There are foods ( such as avocado , nuts, soy milk) that I tend to only eat at breakfast so if I did this all the time, it would be problematic. I don’t do it all the time, however, so it really doesn’t matter.
Eating in this way simply works for my lifestyle. This is not a prescriptive post rather simply an honest reflection of how I’ve adapted my own eating patterns to be able enjoy food to the fullest in my own way, while also maintaining a high quality diet.
A few days a week I may skip breakfast ( and in extreme cases even lunch) if I’m not that hungry due to a very large meal(s) from the previous evening.
This is essentially intuitive eating and respecting my hunger, but also technically could be considered a 12-16 hour fast, which occurs intermittently, and thus is intuitive intermittent fasting… I guess?
I don’t go around considering myself a “faster” but I accept the fact that I probably won’t be as hungry the next morning and afternoon if I eat too much the night before.
But if I want to, I will still eat too much the night before.
I’m sharing my experience because, you know, I like to be constructive during my public transit rides and this kind of fun idea popped into my head and I thought it would be a lighthearted reflective piece to share on my birthday.
I think there is something to be said for doing what makes you happy when it comes to food.
You don’t always need to label things ( ie: intuitive eating, intermittent fasting etc), you can kind of just do what makes you happy and be aware of your own tendencies and dietary patterns.
With that being said I do hope this was at least somewhat insightful and I’m also inclined to believe there are some 30 something’s reading today’s article and relating to my own experience and their own struggles with what I so aptly named “hunger management”
Until next time,
Andy De Santis RD MPH