Food Freedom Friday Edition 112 - Fasting And Feasting

Real life strategies to maintain decorum when faced with a long-awaited feast

So you’ve been making progress with your diet…

The weight has been coming off consistently, week by week, your energy levels are good, your cravings are under control, some symptoms are beginning to disappear and you’re generally pretty darn pleased with your progress.

You’ve accomplished this by taking control of what you eat. For the first time, you know exactly what you’re putting in your body, and it seems to be working.

However, you see a problem on the horizon.

Now technically, this should be way more fun than problem but it threatens to disrupt your progress nonetheless.

The weekend is fast approaching and you have big dinner plans arranged one evenings with a group of your friends.

You also know that this is probably not the ideal venue for compliance with your new nutrition plan. On the contrary, the restaurant where the dinner is planned is packed with temptations, indulgences and choices that almost demand over-consumption.

Realistically, everyone else will be putting down thousands and thousands of less-than-optimal calories, which hardly comes close to being in alignment with the nutrition plan you have been following.

There is no need to be hesitant. An event or a celeb ration need to sabotage your attempts and reclaiming your health.

In fact, if you plan accordingly, you really can choose to indulge (occasionally) and not have it hurt your progress.

This is my personal strategy for when I know these circumstances are on the horizon. This has not only helped me, but is how I coach my clients through upcoming indulgent events too! I thought this might also be useful for you…  

How To Balance Indulging With Your Nutrition Plan

It is impossible to prepare for everything in life, but when you know you have an event coming up like the one I described above, a little preparation goes a long way.

In simple terms, you can significantly mitigate any damage from mindfully consuming 1000s of possibly non-nutritious calories in a single meal if you follow these 3 simple strategies.

·       Fast before the event

·       Get in your protein

·       Eat in the right order (optional)

Let me go over these 3 simple ‘hacks’ in a little more detail so that you can see exactly how to emerge successfully from these types of events in the future with your diet unscathed.

Fast Before The Event

There are lots of benefits to adopting an intermittent fasting approach to eating. In fact, it is how I eat pretty much every day, but that is the subject for another article.

In basic terms, fasting can simply be defined as not having eaten for a period of time, so that your body enters a ‘fasted’ state instead of a ‘fed’ state.

If you are already eating like this, great – you can continue and need not to do anything differently, aside from perhaps extending your fasting window up until the actual event.

But if you are like many people who are currently not following an intermittent fasting diet, then you will simply not eat any of your normal meals during the day.

This means you will be skipping your regular breakfast, lunch, and any other snacks that you may normally have.

By doing this, you will be effectively implementing the fat burning (and hunger reducing – sounds counter-intuitive but it really is true) effects of IF and consuming your calories in one meal, becoming your fed state.  I bet you think you may be hungry, and the first time you try this, you very well may be. This brings me to my second strategy

Get In Your Protein

Generally when people let themselves eat with reckless abandon, they have no trouble consuming copious amounts of fats and carbohydrates. Unfortunately, protein often gets neglected in favor of gorging yourself on these seemingly more fun macronutrients.

The solution to this, especially if you are currently weight training and/or trying to keep your protein intake higher, is to get ensure you have sufficient protein at the last meal you consume before your ‘fast’. It also pays to begin a meal with a bite or two of protein

There is method in this philosophy..

Protein is very satiating. This means that even if you are not used to fasting, consuming protein will keep you full longer, making it considerably easier to hold out until the event.

Even if you are not fasting, this strategy works. For instance, assuming that your indulgent dinner is at 7:30pm. You would eat one protein-only meal at say 12pm, and another small one at 3-4pm.

This is technically not fasting, but if you do this correctly you’ll have only taken in some highly satiating calories by the time your dinner arrives.

Good protein sources for this are generally animal based from humanely treated and well-sourced farms.

If, however, you still find that you are too hungry, add in some extra fat along with a few fibrous vegetables (those that grow above the ground) as well. That, in combination with the protein, should be able to keep your hunger at bay until dinner.

Eat In The Right Order

Now this one is optional.

If you just feel like mindfully (which means you choose to) indulge from the get go, then go right ahead. If you have followed the 2 points discussed above, then you have already given yourself a pretty big cushion.

However, if you want to automatically limit the potential for overeating even further, then try this additional little trick.

Again, to review, for most of us the easiest thing to eat quickly when we are really hungry is carbohydrate. When you haven not eaten for a while, gorging on hundreds of grams of nutrient poor carbohydrates is not only easy, but does little to quell the appetite.

The easiest way to avoid consuming too many of these non-nutritious carbohydrates too quickly is by starting your meal with something that is high in protein and fat. Steak and other red meats are perfect for this.

This allows you to begin up on foods that you are less likely to over-consume – so that by the time you get to the treats, you are more likely end up taking in fewer or smaller amounts without even thinking about it.

You can literally have your cake and eat it too.

The next time you are faced with a situation an event where you are likely to overeat, don’t stress too much about it. It does not imply that your nutrition efforts will go to waste.

If you choose to adopt the strategies I have discussed, you can have meals where you can choose to indulge while at the same time keep feeling good and working towards your health and wellness goals.  

If you learn to become more flexible with your diet, you might be amazed by how much this can limit the stress and anxiety of ‘breaking’ it.

At the end of the day, you really can (sometimes) have your cake and eat it while dieting. In fact, many of the people I see and work with are actually more successful when they do.

Michal Ofer