I Naturally Intermittent Fast and Didn’t Even Realise It

To some extent, the majority of us all fast…. unless you’re extra fancy and can sleep and eat at the same time (in which case you need to get yourself on some kind of talent show!) we typically all ditch eating when dreaming about (insert famous celebrity).

I don’t want to undersell intermittent fasting in anyway as it has done WONDERS for the amount of antacids I consume (and as a byproduct my purse strings) AND my weight loss, but we do all do it to some extent.

Now I’m not a huge fan of extreme fasting such as water fasts or 24/72 hour fasts (unless you need to for some kind of medical procedure). From my understanding women tend to do better with shorter fasts such as 14-16 hours, but I strongly encourage you to do your own research (and no, this doesn’t mean copy your favourite influencer on Instagram).

I prefer to keep it simple so 14-16 hours is something I’m down for. Even 5:2 isn’t the worst idea in the world (5 days eat to maintenance calories, 2 days to consume 500-800 calories).

When I actually listen to my body, it would prefer to go about 14 – 15 hours without eating. Of course, I have the luxury to honour that at the moment because of working from home, which isn’t always possible. However, now I’ve had the time to stop and listen, I’m going to try and incorporate that more once I have to return to the office.

Truly not public sector life

So when do I actually eat?

I’m a breakfast gal… it’s by FAR my favourite meal of the day (if I could get away with having breakfast for every meal, I totally would… and on reflection I’m not far off!)

Therefore I tend to ‘break my fast’ at between 7.30-10.30AM (time and day dependent). I’m not that hungry at 7.30am but that’s prime breakfast time when commuting. I then come in from work at about 4.30, and I much prefer an early dinner (pre COVID-19).

In a parallel universe where I am a billionaire and don’t need to work (and therefore have the time to be slightly more intuitive) I’d probably eat from 10-6/7PM.

I don’t like eating late because I’m 100% guaranteed indigestion. My digestive system clocks off at 8PM and I have to rely heavily on antacids and sleeping upright to get me through the night… which quite frankly I’m not that fond of.

I also find that the more I drag out eating (and the more I eat), I feel increasingly sluggish. I can relate to a 1L car… faster when running on half a tank of gasoline than a full tank. Anyone else identify with a car? No… just me? Anyhoo, moving on.

Do I live on salads when I eat?

I wish I loved salads… I really do. And I could perhaps get on board with a salad from Subway, but my own salads are rubbish. So in short, no.

Now I do restrict some foods as I’m yeast intolerant, and as much as I don’t want to be up all night with heartburn, I also don’t want to spend all day on the toilet either.

In the manufacturing world, I understand yeast is not only used as a raising agent but also a salt substitute and MSG substitute so it’s in a LOT of processed foods. I dare you to go look. Fortunately, they are yet to tamper with cake and chocolate and so I refuse to cut out that. They’re my only vices.

When you remove 90% of the processed food it leaves you with a surprisingly balanced, whole food diet, so I do allow myself treats on the daily. For example, homemade banana bread is on the cards for today.

As far as I know I’m not diabetic or insulin resistant, so I’m not too fussed about carbs. And if we’re to get all intuitive again, I’m not that keen on a stodgy carb (technical term). I like to reserve those carbs for days like my birthday (yesterday) where I ate yeast free doughballs/pizza/banana bread and lay in a comatose state for the rest of the evening whilst watching Jack Bauer save the world in 24.

On the flip side to that however, I do think it’s definitely worth encouraging yourself to make conscious healthy choices throughout the day. This doesn’t mean go in full force with all the fruit and veg on the first day, but gradually introduce more nutritious foods as the days go on.

I now try to make sure there’s some kind of one of my five a day at every meal. I tend to have 3 meals and 1 snack a day, so by doing this I’m guaranteed at least 3-4 servings of nutritious food in a day. It’s also essential to try and get some protein in too (even if it’s a case of using protein powder). They often say healthy fats are satiating but I find protein is much more useful for this.

So Chantelle… what does this actually look like in a day? Well, let me tell you:

7.30AM – 10.30AM – Protein Snickers Oats & Decaf White Coffee

12.30PM – Granola, Berries, Honey and Greek Yoghurt (see, I wasn’t lying about my love for breakfast).

3.30PM – Decaf Coffee and Fruit

5.30PM – Wholewheat BBQ Chicken Tortilla Pizza and Garlic and Herb Sauce

Dessert: Homemade Banana Bread (straight after dinner)

By doing this, my digestive system is happier, my waistline is happier and I’m happier.

Now I do have a couple of disclaimers.

Firstly, as weightloss is my intention at the moment I am monitoring my portion sizes. However, when I’m size sexy (lolz), this will relax somewhat and I’ll just keep to listening to my body.

Secondly, I’m not RELIGIOUS about sticking to these time frames. I have spent years learning to listen to my body and I trust it implicitly. Therefore, if I find myself genuinely hungry (rumbling of the stomach), I won’t wait until my allocated time slot to eat.

Finally, I increase my calories in the lead up to the naturally unnatural ‘time of the month’ (sorry gents). It has been found that women tend to burn more calories when Aunt Flow arrives so I’m going to make ‘allowances’ for this but only if that insatiable hunger rears it’s head.

Intermittent fasting doesn’t have to be some complex magical algorithm. I know to overcomplicate things is a great ‘sell’ on the business front and I’m probably doing myself a disservice, but as long as you seek advice from a medical professional before embarking upon it, I really don’t see why you shouldn’t give intermittent fasting a bash… especially if you’ve been sitting on the fence about it. I know it’s completely changed my relationship with food for the better.

I now know I can enjoy food without the repercussions of heartburn/vomiting, sleepless nights and feeling sluggish. I know they’ve found another zillion reasons why IF (that’s what the cool kids call it by the way) is beneficial for the human body, and of course you’ll come across this as you go away and read reliable validated studies *winking emoji*, but I really can’t see me going back to my old ways.

How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep

Now I am someone who’s sleep can range from one extreme to the other but I’ve recently noticed that the quality of my sleep is improving and I’m sleeping for longer.

I thought it might be useful to share a few of these tips, especially as we head into spring / summer with lighter nights and mornings and with all the other pandemic stress that is going on at the moment!

1) Black out blinds/curtains – these are an absolute must if you want to sleep before sunset or after sunrise. I truly don’t know where I’d be without thick curtains and blackout blinds. If you can’t afford blackout blinds or you live in rented accommodation and are not allowed to touch such things, you can always opt for an eye mask!

2) Reduce screen time – yes you’ve heard it before but blue light really can affect the quality of your sleep (just ask my Fitbit!) Putting your phone down 2 hours before sleep is ideal, but at the very least – 30 minutes.

As tempting as it is to look at Instagram or TikTok just before bed, you won’t be thanking the apps when you’re still awake at 3AM.

3) Talking – I don’t know about you but the most insignificant problems are the ones that wake me up at 4.39AM (to be precise) and in a sleep deprived confused state, they become the greatest problems of all time. Sharing your feelings with a loved one/friend/random person/professional during the day/evening can be enough to rationalise the thoughts in your head before you say goodnight to the world and ensure you have a much better nights sleep.

4) Avoid caffeine – another obvious one but if you’re craving a tea or coffee in the evening, there is always the Decaf option. As a dedicated decaf coffee drinker myself I promise there are good coffees on the market that barely taste any different (sorry tea drinkers I can’t help you – I really hate tea!)

5) Stimulate your mind and body throughout the day – this sounds a bit weird but (and especially whilst we might be temporarily not working/lockdown), ensure you are using your brain and body throughout the day. Use the 60 minute allocated slot to go for a walk/run/cycle/yoga, start reading books or commit to a new hobby. Not only are you getting the blood pumping but you won’t lie awake at night thinking ‘I really should have done that today’.

Trying to achieve this pose will keep you busy!

Now go put down your phone, run yourself a bath and have a good nights sleep!