I am always amused when the “latest and greatest” is actually not so “latest.” Or when things are given fancy-schmancy names, leading us to believe that they are in some way “special” or “different” or… TRENDY! Let’s talk about Intermittent Fasting!
Now “fasting,” in plain ole’ English, means that you are not eating. “Intermittent” means at irregular intervals or not continuous or steady. Unless you are someone who eats 24/7, you are already intermittent fasting! Unless you are someone who is doing a regimen of drinking only water for days on end, you are already intermittent fasting. So, let’s ditch this ridiculous misnomer and talk about something useful… like how to fuel your body in a way that leaves you energized! In a way that avoids the bloating, the cravings, the sleepiness, and lack of energy.
But first, an important question. What is YOUR main meal?
If you are like most Americans, it’s dinner… which has come to mean the evening meal. And you usually have it after 6 PM, right? Well, it wasn’t always like that. For centuries, “dinner” (the heavier main meal) was eaten mid-day… between 11 and 3. After 6 PM, we ate “supper”… from the French word “souper.” If you guessed that the later meal was soup, you’d be right!
For a very long time, this was a GREAT system! Why? Because it worked better with our bodies’ natural rhythms. Ayurvedic tradition with its six cycles explains this very well. And by the way, it still IS a great system… and it looks suspiciously like Intermittent Fasting. HA!
Our body functions in a natural rhythm much like the sun. In the morning the sun rises. At midday, it has reached its peak and is the hottest. After that, it starts waning. Your body has a similar rhythm. There are certain times of day when the body has more digestive fire; at other times it doesn’t. Eating a large meal late goes against your body’s natural rhythm
! This can lead to weight gain… or difficulty losing weight. Late eating could be keeping you fat. If you are someone who has always hated the idea of breakfast early in the morning, read on!
Here’s how it works:
The hours between 6-10 PM are ruled by Kapha (earth and water). In this cycle, things are heavy and sluggish in your body. If you eat a big meal like steak and potatoes, or even a salad with nuts, raisins, and a bunch of other ingredients, your body is going to have a difficult time digesting. If you eat late on top of it, say at 7:30 or 8 PM, your body will still be digesting that meal when bedtime rolls around.
What happens next?
Because your body is still digesting, it won’t be ready to sleep. You will either go to bed and have trouble falling asleep or you’ll go to bed later than you should. It’s likely you won’t sleep as deeply. Next, because you went to bed so late, you’ll be tired the next morning. If you hit the snooze button a few times, you’ll sleep past Vata time (before sunrise). Bad idea. Getting up at Vata time (2-6 AM) would make you feel connected, alive, and vibrant. Instead, you’ll get up at Kapha time (6-10 AM) which will make you feel heavy, foggy, and cloudy in your brain. Sound familiar?
Next, because you feel groggy, you’ll want a boost of energy… like Starbucks! And because you got up later than you wanted to, you didn’t have enough time to do your morning routine, you’ll feel a bit disoriented. The truth is, you’ll be out of sync! The whole rest of your day will be off AND you won’t have as much energy. Now you’ll have two choices: reach for more coffee or sugar in the afternoon, or drag yourself through the day.
Finally, the workday will be over and you’ll get home. The bad news is that you’ll be wound up and exhausted at the same time. So you’ll reach for beer or wine.. .or another “adult beverage” to help you relax… Sound familiar? Heavy, late dinners will also lead to sugar addiction, coffee cravings, brain fog, morning stiffness, emotional upset, lack of energy, etc.
What if it could be different?
If your body was sync? What if you harkened back to our roots and ate SUPPER? And then stopped eating?! Oh my, that’s FASTING!
Say you ate supper at 5 PM or 6 PM. A nice supper could be a creamy carrot ginger soup with a slice of bread and a small side salad. That soup will be digested by 8 PM at the latest. Your body will feel light and comfortable. You will feel naturally tired earlier. You go to bed at a reasonable time, say around 9 or 10 PM. You will get valuable hours of sleep before midnight. Your sleep is likely to be deeper.
Then what happens next:
Because you went to bed earlier and you slept deeper, you will naturally wake up earlier. This gives you ample time to do your morning routine and get ready for your day. Getting up before sunrise will make you feel more plugged in, alive and vibrant (remember it’s Vata time).
You might LIKE your coffee or tea or whatever, but you won’t need it. Here’s where that so-called Intermittent Fasting thing kicks in… see…
You’ll naturally only get hungry for breakfast and/or lunch (dinner!) around 10 AM. You won’t have to force this. Pitta rules the period between 10 AM and 2 PM. Note that around noon, the body has an immense amount of digestive power. It can handle large amounts of food, so take the time to tuck in and have a nice, civilized meal… as they do in other countries. Be sure to get enough protein. The dinner will give you energy for the remainder of the day. Forget the 3 PM slump! Overall your body will feel lighter. Your digestion will improve and you’ll have more energy. And all that from simply eating supper… a.k.a. an earlier, lighter dinner. And what could be easier than soup? Get out that crockpot in the morning. Arrive home to the delicious aroma of a nutritious soup. A simple mixed green salad completes the meal… drizzle some olive oil and lemon juice on top. Done!
Now you know you need to eat earlier, lighter dinners… the question is: Are you going to do it? All kinds of things may get in the way… old habits, doubts, fears, scheduling?
Ready to stop dieting but can’t quite do it on your own? You are not a failure… and you are not alone. We all need support. Set up a FREE Diet Freedom Roadmap session at ** Liz’s Calendar **. We will talk about what’s up with your health today, how else you’d like it to be, and how you can bridge the gap.