In the seven years since I’ve gotten sick, I’ve tried at least a few “diets” to improve my Chronic Illness: gluten free, the arthritis diet,
eliminating caffeine and salt, veganism (no flesh, dairy or refined sugar) and an ultimate return to eating meat. So it’s easy to see why I was resistant to agreeing to try Intermittent Fasting. My Husband has been throwing me educational tidbits about IF for about a year now, wanting to try it. How lucky am I to have a Husband who’s always trying to help?!
On Sunday, we sat down and watched the Netflix movie entitled “Fasting”. And after watching that, I finally relented; we began our customized fasting plan that same night. Now please don’t think that solely watching a Netflix movie convinced me to change my life. This is something that we have spoken about dozens of time and my Husband has studied very intently. But it was watching the improvements actual people made and listening to the Doctors presenting the statistics that finally drove it home.
For the most part, people in the movie were discussing days of fasting: five days, twenty one days, thirty days and one woman fasting for 41 days. That is a little too ambitious for me to consider right now. But lengthy fasting is not the only way to adopt such a lifestyle. Intermittent Fasting can also be about shortening the daytime window in which you eat. While it seems the most popular one is 6/18, my Husband, Bri and I have decided to start out with 10/14. This means that for 10 hours of the day, you consume your food and the remaining 14 you fast. Fasting means nothing but water, black tea or black coffee are consumed. As we get more used to this schedule, we will gradually work to shrink the window in which we do eat, eventually getting to the 6/18 point.
Intermittent Fasting is not new. It is mentioned in the Bible that Jesus fasted for 40 days. Hippocrates recommended fasting for patients with certain symptoms. Christianity, Judaism and Islam all emphasize fasting during certain times. Some Buddhist Monks fast as part of meditation. And perhaps most famous of all, for fasting, is Gandhi, who used it for political protest.
In the movie, fasting is used to fight high blood pressure, combat the horrific side effects from chemotherapy, lower cholesterol, fight chronic headaches, lessen or eliminate the need for insulin for Diabetics, weight loss and to combat depression. I have also read of people’s symptoms from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia significantly improving as a result of fasting; including Dr. Courtney Craig: http://www.drcourtneycraig.com/blog/intermittentfasting
The basic tenet of fasting is this: the process of digestion consumes much of our body’s energy. By fasting, the body is not expending this energy, but more importantly, it diverts that energy to focus on renewal and healing of the body.
It has been five nights since we started fasting. For the most part, I am keeping to a schedule of 14/10. If my coffee with creamer didn’t count, it, would actually be more like 10/14.
So what have I found thus far?
- Initially, not snacking at night is far more challenging than I considered.
- While they say you don’t also need to cut calories when fasting, I have found that it simply isn’t possible to eat as much when you’re only eating during a certain window. So to that end, calories are being decreased.
- Given that you are already taking such efforts to improve, there is a natural inclination to want to eat healthier, more nutrient dense foods.
- As of this morning, I have lost 3 pounds
- I woke up twice this week without being in immediate agony
Normally, I am in pain prior to even opening my eyes when I wake up each day. The simple act of not having that was a really beautiful thing. Our eventual goal, on top of shortening our “eating window” is to also incorporate a once a week full day fast. I can’t say when I will finally get to that point, or if I ever will. But for now, this is a life change that I plan to adopt permanently. I am eventually hoping for some symptom relief and as I go I will let you know of any progress updates. Until then, wish me luck with this endeavor!
If you would like to read more about Intermittent Fasting, here are some great articles!!