WEEK six into my latest diet regime and I’m beginning to struggle.
On New Year’s Day, which was Day 1 of my 5:2 fasting diet, I was full of motivation and bravado. This will be a doddle, I thought. How hard can it be? Eating ‘normally’ for five days a week and reducing my intake to 500 calories per day on two non-consecutive days per week certainly seemed doable at that point.
Of course, I was spurred on by the Christmas cheer that had spread around my waist-line (which might be more aptly named “waste-line” because that’s where all the excess calories end up!). I can do this, I thought. And after watching a couple of documentaries on the potential health benefits of this ‘diet’ I felt suitably ready to have a crack.
The first couple of ‘fast days’ were very informative. I learned a lot about myself on those days. One, I am a complete guts. I love food and dislike the feeling of hunger. That was instructive, because I realised that I have not often been hungry in the past howevermany years.
It’s not something we ‘do’ (voluntarily) in our modern society, where food abounds and advertising of the same is relentless.
We’ve also been told for many years that it’s not good to go hungry as it ‘slows the metabolism’, so what do we good little dieters do?
We eat every few hours (at the least) to keep that blasted metabolism chugging along nicely.
Well, according to the research accompanying the 5:2 diet, this idea is actually a load of codswallop.
The new thinking is that merely skipping a few meals will not cause any downward swing in the metabolism and that, in fact, our Neanderthal bodies are actually designed to withstand quite long periods of fasting.
After all, in prehistoric days (and probably many thousands of years afterwards) mankind was often in a culinary pickle when it came to food availability. Fillet of woolly mammoth for tea one night, wild grass and dirt for the next couple of weeks would not, I guess, have been uncommon.
And so, it was with interest that I observed my reactions to going hungry.
I realised after the first day that hunger comes in waves and does not necessarily build and build until you have no choice but to eat your left arm.
I discovered that I could actually go without food for many hours, and not feel too bad.
Most interestingly I found that the morning after a fast day, I was not rushing to the kitchen at Olympic speeds.
In fact, I was not any more interested in Uncle Toby than on any other day. So far, so good. However I did find that, as the fast day wears on, it gets harder to resist food and thus I’m always in bed earlier on those nights.
Which is probably a good thing, anyway, from a health perspective.
But there are definitely a few telltale signs of my struggle.
For example, the other day I tried to ask a colleague to pass me a sticky Post It. Instead I asked for a Sticky Date!
She roared with laughter and said, “Oops! Someone’s getting hungry!”
Not five minutes later, I needed a paper clip but asked for a “Potato Clip”.
Hmm. Guess the worms really were biting that day!
Well anyway, Week 6 and having demolished my meagre dinner tonight, I’m trying not to think about food.
Instead, I’m thinking about how fab the scales might look in the morning and how my risk of diabetes, dementia and some cancers might be reducing as we speak.
Given that my kids have predicted a rather ‘easy transition into dementia’ for my older years, perhaps all this starvation is at least doing something good for my brain.
Well, let’s hope so, anyway, because Lord knows it ain’t doing much for my ravenous Neanderthal insides!