I’m a cautious fan of intermittent fasting and have previously shared my thoughts on the best way to go about it. But I picked up on something in an interview with American integrative doctor Chris Kresser recently that stoked the fasting fire a little.
As something of a side note to his ramble about how he personally flirts with this particular food fad, he mentions the spiritual aspect of intermittent fasting:
“Where for some people who can get a little addicted to certain aspects of food or certain types of food or our relationship to food starts to feel a little bit out of whack, then intermittent fasting can be one way of resetting that.” He goes on:
“(Intermittent fasting) can really set you free from some habitual patterns around food.”
I reflected on this a bit. I personally have rigidity around a few food issues. I get anxious when a meal is not a proper meal. And I’ll eat a heaping meal even if I’m not hungry. I struggle to respect my appetite. To manage this I try to eat proper meals – and regularly – and by not snacking, so that I have true appetite at dinnertime. (Anyone else “food sink” when you don’t have dinner to look forward to??)
I can also get into emotional food ruts where I feed my anxiety with food. Quitting sugar, of course, helped enormously with this. It built solid food habits and shifted my take on the role of food. Oh, and it got me mindful around eating. The most important bit!
Having traversed these tricky terrains, I can see that mixing things up – putting a bit of a fire-cracker under the situation, so that you’re left to deal with a new scenario – can be enough of a jolt to the rutty Zeitgeist to get you seeing things afresh. A bit of a holiday from the obsession. (Which reminds me of one of all-time favourite happiness tips: sleeping at the other end of the bed.)
I tried this idea of Chris’ for a bit recently. I ate an extremely light dinner every few nights. Even skipped dinner once because I was mindful enough to realise I wasn’t hungry. I got a bit nervous. What did I have to look forward to if no dinner? What would punctuate my day? Where’s the indulgence? Where’s the fun?
The little experiment was fruitful. It broke my habitual thinking and gave me confidence to be a little more “free” around my eating. It’s something I might try to do every now and then, when I’m in an addictive rut: on a day when I’ve eaten a massive lunch or have left dinner too late, bravely skip dinner and use the experience to get mindful about my appetite. You know, as in use the opportunity for good ends.
You tried it? Would it make your food issues worse? Let’s chat about it.