Intermittent fasting is no joke. It sounds wonderful when you first start hearing about the benefits, and it really is wonderful, but it can be incredibly difficult when you first start doing it. You can practice intermittent fasting in various ways. These include:
- The 5:2 method, where you eat normally for five days a week and really restrict your calories for two days in the week.
- Time-restricted eating, which is where you restrict your eating window to around ten to twelve hours.
- Not eating for 16 to 21 hours a day. Intermittent fasting only really starts when you do not eat for 16 hours or longer.
- Only eating once a day.
- Fasting for three days or longer on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis.
Regardless of which method you choose to do, it can be tough while adapting to the new way of eating. Here are a few tips that will help you cope with intermittent fasting:
Distract Yourself While Not Eating
Keep yourself busy in the morning while you wait for the time that you want to start eating. If you sit and do nothing while waiting, it will start to feel like time is going by much slower. By staying busy, the time to eat will arrive before you know it, and you may even forget about the fact that you have not eaten yet.
Schedule meetings in the morning at work or plan to do your important work then. You can also do things, such as cleaning the house, doing some errands, going shopping, etc.
Consume Enough Salt
I was sceptical when I first heard that having salt with water or putting salt under your tongue helps with cravings, but it helps a lot. I prefer to do the fasting mimicking diet, as well as time-restricted eating, and have found that if I consume more salt, I am able to reduce my hunger and cravings.
I prefer using Himalayan salt. I do not know if it is superior to any other salt, although it does contain quite a few minerals, but to be honest, I think I prefer it because it has a fun colour.
Make Meals Satisfying When You do Eat
The last thing you want is a disappointing meal when you have not eaten in 18 hours. Make whatever it is that you eat within your eating window worth the wait. If you pair protein, fibre, and fat at mealtimes, you will be more likely to feel satiated after the meal, as the combination can help turn off hunger signals and make you feel full for longer.
Do Not Eat a Lot of Carbohydrates
Consuming carbohydrates can make fasting intermittently a lot more difficult. When you eat carbohydrates regularly, your body will be more likely to rely on glucose as its main source of energy, as opposed to preferring fat, and you will be more likely to have hunger cravings.
When your body is fat adapted, meaning that it is trained to switch to burning your stored fat when you run out of fuel instead of muscle, you will experience fewer hunger pangs. Going on a ketogenic (low-carb, high-fat) diet before you even start fasting intermittently can make the beginning of the journey a lot easier.
Find Other Ways of Coping with Stress
There are other ways of coping with stress and anxiety that do not involve eating. If you want to change a habit, you have to replace it. Instead of eating, you could exercise, have sex, read, take a nap, paint something, write in a journal, take a hot bath, etc.
Do not Exercise Too Intensely
When you are new to intermittent fasting, you may struggle with feelings of fatigue or weakness. If you try to exercise hard while you have not eaten for hours, you could end up feeling really bad afterwards. Rather try to stick to mild workouts or really take it easy for the first few days.
Do It With a Friend
It helps a lot to stick to something when you have somebody who is supportive and is possibly doing it with you. If you and a friend or your partner both start practising intermittent fasting together, when things become difficult, you will have someone to talk to when it becomes difficult who understands, and you will have someone who might also want to be distracted from not eating and who will do things with you where you cannot see or smell food.
My husband and I started doing it together, and it is sometimes a lot easier to wait for breakfast knowing that he will eat in an hour and it will be far nicer to have breakfast with him instead of having it alone.
Keep Reminding Yourself of Why You Are Doing It
When times become tough, it can become hard to remember why you are doing it. Remind yourself of the benefits of doing this, such as how it can help with longevity, fat loss, cancer prevention, etc. This will make it a lot easier for you to resist temptation.