This feels like my fast talking, but its a pretty big realization for me!
I’m 24 hours into a 48 hour fast, being bombarded with ads, posts, reels, etc with FOOD. Freaking food. Delicious food. Desserts, pasta, soups, roasts, dumplings, even ramen.
Its American culture; eat!
Ok lets really talk about this because its bugging the crap out of me. One of the biggest changes I had to make with my intermittent fasting routine was portion size. Next was frequency of eating, but first thing I had to tackle was wanting to eat “all the things” and a lot of it. American portion sizes are enormous to say the absolute least. Check out the startling comparisons in this infographic –>
I have several friends, who, in another lifetime would be professional chefs (if it wasn’t for capitalism and having to maintain insufferable employment to survive). I can’t imagine being so talented in the kitchen and feeling capable of successfully breaking negative food habits. Now, I’m not terrible. In fact, I think I’m a pretty decent cook. But I’ve been cooking for one for so long that my skills leave me less than motivated to cook at all. I cook the “meal for an army” size and then eat leftovers for the week rather than tempting myself to overeat because I made something different every day.
Now, don’t misunderstand me – I’m not saying I don’t deserve to nourish myself, or don’t deserve to eat delicious things. I just know my level of willpower is not as impressive as I’d hope.
I’ve spent over 30 years on earth enjoying food whenever and however I please. Until I hit my 30’s, simply the *enjoyment* was what mattered. It was basically my understanding and “energy” that all I had to do was not feel guilty, and I could basically enjoy what I wanted. My metabolism/body/insulin resistance/hormones … whatever you’d like to label the issue or issues, changed. I have never been an overeater in the binge/purge sense. I just really like food. But my body hit a wall with what I could eat and how much I could eat! I bet you’re shaking your head, especially if you’re also in your 30’s or older. It runs you over like a truck barreling around a blind corner. One day you’re enjoying a coffee and donut, lunch, a snack, a carb-heavy dinner, the next day you’re wondering why you feel like garbage and you’re gaining weight at an unreasonable pace.
So maybe you started exercising. Cutting down on carbs. Maybe you even paid for a nutrition plan (like I did) and a fitness plan (like I did) and it works for a little! Yay you’ve lost some weight, you feel a little stronger. And then it stops. So you juggle things around; you still feel good, but the weight loss has stalled and you’re definitely not at a comfortable weight yet
— Men, just keep on scrolling, because the chances that you can relate are so slim. This seems to be almost an AFAB issue, and I’ve already argued with a man who insists diet & exercise are the ObViOuS and singular solution to the weight issue this week. —
ANYWAY! Things stalled. You did all the right things and they didn’t work like they’re supposed to magically work. So you just go back to all the delicious foods and “regular” portions.
Now this is the point where I read The Obesity Code and realized that first of all, throughout all of this, my refined carbohydrate intake and sugar (real or fake) intake have both been unhinged. Was it bad? No! Precisely why I didn’t even think anything of it. Everything fit within my macros and calorie counts. When I started adjusting things according to the book and my coach’s guidance, I realized just how absurd American eating habits are.
Portion sizes are astronomical. We are encouraged to literally eat 5-6 times a day. We slap a few weak vegetables on our plate each week and call it a day. I could keep going but I imagine you know that our eating habits are absolutely wild in this country. My biggest revelation and my motivation for this particular post has to do with portion size, though.
I just freaking love to eat. Food is f****ing GOOD. Sweet, salty, savory, complex, spicy, I love it. Its the experience of eating, savoring the flavors, especially enjoying it with friends and loved ones. The smells, the textures, all of it. I will bet you can relate. Many centuries ago, famine was a genuine and frequent risk; our ancestors imbedded famine-busting tactics on our DNA. Most of which includes enjoy food, take advantage of what’s available to you, and don’t waste it. I bet most of us also grew up in “Clean Plate Club” households, too. We were always encouraged (often demanded) to clean our plates regardless of how we feel. So combine the Clean Plate Club mentality with our carefully encoded anti-famine DNA and we have a recipe for disaster when we’re constantly surrounded by abundant, delicious food.
Quite possibly my greatest frustration with any length of fasting is that I just crave the comfort, feel, smell, taste (etc etc etc) of FOOD. The mental battle I wage is astounding. The logic of the situation is that I’m not even genuinely hungry. I’m looking for a fix. And there we have it. My brain whacks that dopamine buzzer like its on Family Feud and it doesn’t care if it knows the answer. Meanwhile Steve Harvey (me) is rolling his eyes because he know full well I don’t actually need whatever my brain is having a tantrum over.
None of this is to say I’m ignoring when I’m genuinely hungry. There have been days when I planned to do a longer fast but I stopped. I have to listen to how I feel – sometimes its a mental battle I’m not able to wage that day, sometimes I feel faint and its definitely time to get a good re-feeding period in regardless of my plan. But its 100% possible to make it through safe fasting lengths.
Now that you know you aren’t alone, that the challenge to intermittently fast effectively can be daunting, and that we all have our battles, do you think you’re better prepared to take control of your health too?
In the next few posts, I’ll talk more about battling Dopamine Demons and the purpose of intermittently fasting without breaking your fast!
-Love, Light and Health! ~ Jess