If food is a comfort or reward and you have stress, you have a recipe for weight gain. Add to that the stress of staying on a diet and you’ve likely increased the demand for comfort and reward (and probably weight gain). Fasting is something I use as a part of a healthy lifestyle. This is not a Ghandi-like protest fast but a part of how I do each day. Truth is I don’t have the self-discipline, the time, or the desire to diet. With that said, here are the five things that really make the difference.
Five Reasons Dieting and Fasting are Different:
1) Dieting is hugely complex. Fasting is simple.
Dieting has lots of new rules and often requires counting portion size or calories. The concept of fasting is uncomplicated. I will eat again at lunch or maybe supper. This is not to be confused with anorexia. Anorexics are marked by a very low body weight and a fear of weight gain due to a distorted perception of their body. If that’s you, this is not for you. When I fast, it is part of a plan that starts with knowing I will eat later.
2) Dieting requires much more planning. Fasting is easy.
Sticking to a diet involves planning and preparation to succeed. The only thing I want to count before I sit down to eat is my many blessings. I can decide to fast for a portion of today while I’m in the shower before breakfast. If I’ve had a few meals that were chosen more for convenience than health, I can decide to fast for a meal to allow my system time to detox.
3) Dieting is focused on eating. Fasting is focused on the experience.
Even when you are focused on NOT eating, you are still spending a lot of time thinking about food. Confusion leads to uncertainty and for me that opens up a lot of negotiating with myself, a bad idea. Fasting is a tool to learn more about mindfulness and our relationship with food. When I fast, I am learning about the triggers that create my appetite.
4) Dieting pays off at some point in the distant future, Fasting has a quick pay-off.
Dieting is commonly associated with defeat and a feeling of inadequate self-discipline, two negative things I don’t like to feel about myself. Plus, if I don’t get all the way to my goal, I feel like I let myself down. If I wanted to lose five pounds but only lost three, I feel I should have worked harder. Regular fasting is usually only a part of a day or maybe a whole day or two. Even if I don’t make it all the way to my fasting goal, I learn something about myself along the way.
5) Dieting gets harder, Fasting gets easier.
Dieting rarely becomes easier and actually becomes more difficult with time. Fasting becomes easier the more frequently you do it. I am confident I can skip a meal and I know I can do it anytime I want. In addition, when I break my fast, I’m really interested in putting the best food I can into my body. When I break a diet, I want the triple-fudge sundae, with whipped cream, chunks of candy bar, and yes, throw on some Gummy-Bears.
Don’t make fasting more complicated than it needs to be. If you’ve never done it before, start by making lunch the first meal of the day. Maybe you want to skip supper. Stay hydrated and pay attention to how you feel. Unless you have a medical condition that requires you to eat on a schedule, we can all afford to miss a meal. As you relax with the idea of food as the center of three major events every day, you may find fasting helps change the way you view food and eating.