In all honesty, I am not a fan of writing about diets. Mostly because I would never want to make anyone feel pressure to lose weight. But also, because the older I get, the more I continue to learn how complicated the body can be, so what works for one person may not work for the other. But, after following the 5:2 Diet for a month now, I have learnt so much more than just losing weight, and therefore, I feel like it’s a thought worth sharing. If you’re not well versed in the intermittent fasting movement (it seems to have had a resurgence this year, in a big way) put simply, it can be defined as: A diet that involves eating normally for five days out of a seven-day period and greatly restricting the amount of food eaten on the other two days—usually cutting calories down to 500-600 per day.
After steadily putting on weight throughout the years I decided it was time to do something about it. Not only was I feeling extremely inflamed, I just didn’t feel great about myself, or my eating habits. I also knew that watching what I eat wasn’t going to cut it. Mostly because I had steadily conditioned myself into a pattern of eating dessert every night after dinner, and my portion sizes had grown so fast, going extreme would prove useless after the novelty of dieting wore off. So, after lots of research, and chatting to my partner, we decided that intermittent fasting would work best for us.
There’s a lot of research out there, some good, with studies indicating to potential cardiovascular, and blood pressure improvements and some less positive, suggesting that it can lead to an obsession with a low-calorie relationship to food. But the main reason I decided it was best for me, was because I knew if I could only focus on it for two days as a starting point it would begin to permeate into the rest of the week.
Four weeks in, I’ve got to say, other than weight loss (which has been a great upside) what has actually changed is my entire relationship with food. What I have found is that I was addicted to the way food made me feel. While I am not technically overweight by any means, on the first day of starting my “two” day, I was miserable. Sure, I was hungry, but what was a more enlightening discovery was how much I hated the day, wrote it off, wallowed my way through it, because in moments of fatigue, boredom or stress, I wasn’t able to reach into the work snack jar for an instant sugar hit.
It also forced me to actually think about my cravings. I was required to question why they always came at 3 p.m., or after a stressful moment, and why I never fought with them. I simply gave in, without thinking why they were there.
So, while I will never tell you try one thing over the other, what I have learnt is that food has definitely served as a crutch for me, and now that I'm forgoing the visceral need to eat a deluge of chocolate, instead I have to pay attention to what my body is saying. As always, being mindful where possible is a great way to achieve balance, in work, relationships and self-care, and now it’s a principle I can even apply to what I eat and how I take care of my body.