The Mental Barrier of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a great way to lose weight while avoiding feeling awful and the negative effects that occur with normal daily caloric-restriction. Still, the media doesn’t generally promote it that much.
We still live in a society where it’s advised that we should remove calories every day, even if science has proved that eating less every day produce hormonal imbalance that leads to obesity.
We discussed in the article intermittent fasting vs. eating less why intermittent fasting is the clear winner of reducing total calorie intake while eating like a king. The only thing is that you have to eat in a certain period, like for example only 8 hours per day.
But before leaping intermittent fasting, we have to mentally prepare ourselves for what we are about to embark on.
Do Your Research First
No matter what you are about to try in life, especially something that will have an impact on your health, the best advice is to always do your research first.
Doing your research will do more than just indicating that what you are about to do is good for you.
Research makes you practice intermittent fasting efficiently, and will also make you feel confident that this step is good for your health and how you look.
Don’t take someone’s claim for granted, find people that can point you to studies that prove their claims. There are plenty of fitness advocates that have no idea what they are talking about.
That’s why I love the Eat Stop Eat book. The author has so many studies cited in there, that it takes 20 pages at the end of the book to reference them all.
Nothing Bad Will Happen if You Don’t Eat for 24 hours
Here’s something that I had to deal with too. People generally fear the idea of having to go through 24 hours without eating something.
Most people think that by doing it, they are going to harm themselves in some way.
It feels strange to talk about not eating for 16 or 24 hours now, but it was nothing strange for 99% of our history.
The present time, when you can eat anything you want just by going to the shop or dialing a phone number, is something very new. We survived a lot more time by going long periods without food because we had to gather or hunt some more.
Our bodies are adapted to having periods of times when we eat alternated with periods when we fast. In fact, we all fast, even if we know it or not. We do it while we sleep!
So the whole fear of doing something harmful by not eating for more than 8 hours is something new, and it hasn’t been supported by science.
Some people went fasting longer than a week without having any bad health effect. Of course, we are talking about obese people, that still used vitamins and minerals to keep their body healthy and had medical assistance during the fast, so doing prolonged fasts is not something I’d recommend.
But to think that something bad will happen for you if you don’t eat for 24 hours is an illusion.
As long as you are not skinny (at which point there’s no need to practice fasting), there’s enough energy stored in body fat to keep you going for days.
Fasting for 24 hours is a breeze for our body. The positive effects that fasting has on our body makes it a very enjoyable experience.
Sometimes is Better to Keep Things to Yourself
One of the mental barrier we might find when we try intermittent fasting is the response we get from other people. Few people might understand the benefits of fasting, and they are generally the ones that tried it for themselves.
Don’t rush to tell everyone around you what you are doing. First, because is no one’s business what you do with your body, and second, you don’t want any negativity around you while doing it.
I saw some cases on the internet when people reported that their coworkers laughed at their attempt to fasting and tried to stop their efforts by eating in front of them.
The world is how it is, and some judgmental people will react negatively when you do something they don’t.
The best thing is to avoid all of these people by keeping your fasting to yourself.
We live in a world where eating healthy might raise some eyebrows while eating sugar-filled donuts every day is regarded as something normal, at least in general.
If you want support or someone to talk with about it, join social media groups with other people that practice intermittent fasting.
Start Small And See How it Feels
Intermittent fasting doesn’t have to be a huge effort for it to be effective. And you don’t have to start with the hardest way of doing it.
You should start small and see how it feels first. You can start by practicing the 16:8 diet, which involves eating for 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours.
This is very simple to do and it will help you see how fasting feels for your body. As you will feel better and better, you will be more confident to try fasting for 24 hours.
Starting small is also way more relaxing for your mind. You don’t have to deal with the fear of not eating for 24 hours anymore.
You start by trying to fast for a couple of hours every day, to the point where you can reach 16 hours (including the 7-8 hours that you sleep).
After you start to feel the good effects that fasting has on your body, it will be much easier to try longer fasting periods or to stick to the intermittent fasting you chose.
Make The Process Enjoyable
One thing about diets that you can keep your entire life is the fact that they are enjoyable. Intermittent fasting has a clear advantage over eating less because you don’t feel tired and hungry all the time, quite the contrary.
But even with all the health benefits that you get from IF, it’s still a good idea to make the process very enjoyable.
First, you want to include foods you love back into your daily diet. One of the advantages of intermittent fasting is the fact that you can include foods you love, and you don’t have to worry about counting calories.
20% of your diet can be foods you love but are not healthy, and you will still lose weight and feel good.
Also, make sure that during your eating periods, you supply your body with the nutrients and calories it needs. That means you will usually eat much more food than you did before eating 3 or more meals throughout the day.
These feasts that you are going to have during the eating period will be a strong motivation to keep it going. You will feel amazing for not having to fear calories ever again.
You would also want to schedule the fasting periods in such a way that it doesn’t interfere with your life. For example, if you always had dinner once a week with your friends, you can schedule the intermittent fasting in such a way that you will be in the eating period at that point.
Intermittent fasting is supposed to make losing weight easier and more enjoyable, therefore take advantage of it.
These are the steps that I consider necessary to remove the mental barriers that you might have regarding fasting and to make this process as enjoyable as possible.