Our first fasts are quite an experience, something we always remember and we certainly can learn a lot from them. Like any new experience, we don’t know what to expect before we start. Here are some of the surprises that may await you when you embark on an intermittent fasting journey – be they good, bad or ugly!
Part 3: The Ugly
Okay, so in some ways these could go in with ‘The Bad’, but then I wouldn’t have such a catchy headline, would I? And if you read on, you’ll see that the below really are some ugly truths you may discover when you start fasting.
Hangry may be a word you’ve not heard before, but if you’ve fasted you have probably been hangry on at least on occasion, even if you didn’t know the word for it! Hangry, a combination of hungry and angry is a behaviour that other people are perhaps more likely to notice than you are. If you become agitated, snappish or crotchety when you get hungry, that’s you being hangry. We can learn to control this with time and it does get easier as we get used to fasting – however there may be times that we let it get the better of us, for example when our hormones are adding to the effect. Learning to control the hanger (hmm, the word doesn’t work so well like that, does it?) is another step on our journey towards regaining control over food rather than food controlling us.
Find out more about the side effects of fasting
Eating can ‘wake the hunger monster’
Well, it does say ‘monster’ doesn’t it? So, I class this one as Ugly! The ‘hunger monster’ (or appetite) is something we become more aware of when we fast. A majority of fasters according to our surveys at the FastDay Forum find that as soon as they start to eat it only makes them more hungry – or, in effect, it wakes the hunger monster. For this reason a lot of fasters quickly find themselves moving on to having just one meal on a fast day as they find it easier to let the monster sleep all day and then satisfy him with a nice big meal in the evening. It can also be true of feed days – I for one find that if I am peckish in the morning and give in to having an earlier breakfast than usual, I will eat more that day than I otherwise would – it just seems to spark the appetite. I suppose the old adage, “give him an inch and he’ll take a mile” is true here – that little bit of food the hunger monster didn’t really need to eat just makes it want to eat more and more. So, listen to your body and ask yourself before you eat, “Am I really hungry?”. Have a glass of water and see if it goes away! You can improve your relationship with food by learning from this ugly truth.
Find out about the basics of metabolism
Find out about hunger on non-fast days
Read about experiences with The Hunger Switch at the FastDay Forum
Other people’s attitudes
Now this is without a doubt the ugliest of the surprises you may find when you start fasting. I touched on it in Part 1: The Good when I mentioned what other people might say about a day on just 500 calories. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t understand the ideas behind intermittent fasting. For so many years we’ve had the beliefs hammered into us that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ and that ‘skipping meals is unhealthy’, even that ‘you need to eat little and often’. Well it turns out that these are not as black and white as many people seem to think. You may find your friends and colleagues less than understanding when you tell them that you’re fasting. You may even feel the need to hide it from them for fear of their criticism, pessimism and poorly founded opinions. It’s only when they start to see just how healthy and happy you are from doing it that they may slowly start to change their minds. Don’t let their attitudes put you off, stay the course and you won’t regret it!
Find out how to deal with cynicism and pessimism about fasting
Find out more about the science of fasting
So there you have it: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of intermittent fasting. Remember, the important thing is that The Good are here to stay while The Bad and The Ugly will for the most part go away.
If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, here they are again: