Seven tips for healthy fasting


The weight came off surprisingly quickly in two months of regular fasting

If you love food as much as I do, you’ve probably tried to diet once or twice. It’s not fun, is it.

You might enjoy hearing about my experience with an alternative approach.

The benefits of fasting: scientific and cultural evidence

Back at the end of January I talked about the Pleasure Trap and Douglas Lisle’s suggestion that we fast in order to better appreciate natural flavours.

I heard some other things about fasting too – how fasting switches your body from ‘fat store’ to ‘fat burn’ mode. (Mark Sisson explains this well and gives the scientific evidence in his Mark’s Daily Apple blog.) There are also lots of cultures which include traditional fasting, suggesting it has some value.

When I tried my first full-day fast, I really struggled, as I wrote then. It was horrible.

But I tried again. The second time I recognised some of the tricks your brain plays on you to get you to eat. I did it again, and I recognised some ways to make fasting easier.

The proof: I dropped at least one dress size in two months

The proof: I dropped a dress size or two over two months

Let’s clarify something: I love food. I’m not a dieter. Even when I’ve wanted to lose weight, eating fewer calories hasn’t seemed to have any effect on my waistline.

So I wasn’t doing this with the expectation of losing weight. But I did.

I loved the feeling of achievement and control a full day fast gave me. I began to fast once a week. And people started commenting. I’m now wearing clothes at least one dress size smaller, sometimes two.

The best part is, I eat better than before. Meals are like feasts which I look forward to from my fast days. I treat myself to special foods, and eat without guilt.

There is nothing better than being happy with how you look. But if, like me, calorie-restricted diets aren’t for you, and you want to try fasting… it has a lot to recommend it.

Seven tips for easier fasting

  1. Expectation management. It’s going to be painful. Accept that. The tough moments don’t last long.
  2. Avoidance. Stay away from food. Don’t cook for others, or grocery shop. (Probably best not to write a food blog either… 😮 )
  3. Reward. Treat yourself in another way at lunch and dinner time. (I like clothes shopping on my lunch break and watching a good show/movie at dinner time.)
  4. Caffeine and zero-calorie drinks. Black coffee and green tea are your friends. Keep ’em coming.
  5. Distraction. Plan distractions. I like to fast on days when I will be talking to people (e.g. in meetings, or at events) for large parts of the day.
  6. Planning. Avoid tasks which require steady concentration. This gets easier with practice, but at the start, expect to be tired and grumpy.
  7. Perseverance. Go to bed early if you need to. If all else fails, have a zero-calorie artificially sweetened soda (though not too often – those things are bad for you 😕 ). Tell yourself all the great things you’re going to eat the following day. You can make it through!

Good luck!


4 thoughts on “Seven tips for healthy fasting

    • Good question! No, caffeine alone doesn’t do the trick, although it helps. Absolutely concentrating will be harder, and high concentration tasks are best left for another day. It is much easier to fully function now than when I started fasting.

      For concentration I resort to the same tricks as I use when I have to do something really hard and tedious… Like breaking the task up, removing distractions, taking regular wanders around the room, etc.

      I often find that the period of intolerable distraction and rumbly tum actually passes quickly. Most of the day is fine.

  1. Fasting week 3 today for us…we’ll let you know how we get on! Tips are great, apart from with two young children there is no avoiding preparing food (yes mealtimes are the hardest part!!).

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