One Meal a Day: a new eating plan

IF

There are blog posts here going back to at least 2011 where I discuss attempts to eat “healthy” and control my weight. Like many people, over the last few decades of adulthood I have slowly gained weight, going from 128 lbs in my 20’s to 152 lbs at age 50, which is where I’ve been sitting at for the last year or so. For the last 7 or 8 years I have tried various eating plans to lose weight. I’ve done low-carb, Paleo, and calorie-counting, and although all have been successful, they have not been sustainable. After a while I “fall off the wagon”, regain the weight, and when I try again I just can’t seem to stick to it.

As I tried to figure out where I was going wrong, I began to look at my eating habits and I realized there were some issues. First, I love sugar. I crave it. Second, I often eat even when I am not hungry. If it’s a dessert I love, I will eat more even if I’m so full my stomach feels bloated and uncomfortable. Third, I stopped eating “normal” foods, the home-cooked recipes I love, because I lacked portion control. Especially with rice and stir-fries! Frozen dinners are portion- and calorie-controlled so they are my go-to meal. And yes, it’s depressing to feel I can’t make a home-made meal because I can’t stop myself from eating too much of it.

I had been pondering these things for a while, when this past weekend I ran into an old friend, and she happened to mention she was on an intermittent fasting (IF) plan. We didn’t have too much time to talk, but when she mentioned “getting my eating hormones in balance so I don’t overeat or crave foods, and so I can stop when I’m full” well, that rang a bell for me. Also, I’d heard a lot about the benefits of fasting but felt there was no way I could go all day without eating – my friend told me she eats during a 5-hour window each day. So I asked her for a link, and that night I downloaded the book “Delay, Don’t Deny” by Gin Stephens. I read it cover to cover and decided the next day (yesterday) to start IF with the recommended 5-hour window. I know on days when I’m very busy I can go to 2 pm or later without eating, so I figured if I started my window somewhere around that time, I could do it.

The book got me motivated but left me with many questions about how it worked, so I bought the recommended “Obesity Code” by Drs. Timothy Noakes and Jason Fung. I’m half way through it and enjoying it so far. It seems to be answering my questions. But I’ve done enough of these to know that this could just be the next fad for me. I’m approaching this with a healthy dose of skepticism. But I think the benefits, if they are what is claimed, could be really good for me.

Yesterday, the kids and I were travelling back to the Island from Thanksgiving weekend in Vancouver. I woke up feeling a bit queasy, probably from all the overeating the night before, and figured I could last until 3 pm. But by 1:15 I was feeling quite dizzy and unwell. Although this is to be expected at first, I was still facing a 1-hour highway drive after we got off the ferry, and I did not want to put my family at risk. I broke my fast at 1:15 with a packet of peanut M&Ms that happened to be in my purse. When I came home, I had some cheese, apples, and cherry tomatoes. Then I made one of my favourite soups – fave bean and rice – which I haven’t made in ages. That became my dinner, and I followed it up with a packet of sesame snaps and a mini Kit Kat for dessert. I actually had no trouble not eating after that, despite the fact that I often struggle with wanting snacks in the evening.

Today (Day 2) I went until 2 pm. I decided to keep myself busy in the morning, because I know that when I have a busy day I often go without eating, and without any problems. It was a gorgeous sunny fall day, so I tackled a big project. I took down all the window screens, washed them, lay them out in the sun to dry, then packed them away in the basement. I then washed the outsides of all the windows on the house. By then it was after noon, and although I was very hungry, I was also exhausted (I’m coming down with a cold), so I lay on the sofa and sipped water and read a book until it was time to eat. I broke my fast with a big bowl of my soup, and now I’m having my beloved pot of tea.

The biggest obstacle I faced to taking on this challenge was my routine of having a pot of sweet, milky tea in the morning. I didn’t think I could give that up, until I realized two things. First, I can have it during my window (like I’m doing right now), and second – I’m much more productive without it! Previously, my routine was to sit down at my desk with my pot of tea…and before I knew it, half the day had gone by. Many big projects around the house were not getting done, because by afternoon I’m tired and have less energy. A huge bonus to this IF lifestyle is that I want to keep busy in the mornings to avoid hunger and cravings. So, when I’m home, I am going to tackle a project each morning (if I don’t have work or other commitments). I will also start scheduling errands after I drop the kids off, rather than trying to put them off – as I often do – so that I can enjoy my pot of tea. I’m looking forward to being much more productive!

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