Fasting can have negative effects too

fasting can result in bingeing

To fast or not to fast, that is the question

Fasting, whether it’s the 5:2 diet, or intermittent fasting can be an excellent way to lose weight, but it can come at a cost if you’re not mindful with what’s happening in your mind as well as your body.

I will share a number of stories with you about people I have worked with in 2018 who came to me because they were either binge eating or addicted to fast food. Sasha was in her early 20s and still living at home. He mother was very slim and would tell her she was fat and do something about it.

I explained that bingeing could be the result of comfort eating, or trying to reduce calorie intake too far. It became apparent over the weeks that her mother’s diet was poor, and the reason she was so slim because she effectively had her own eating disorder. Getting Sasha to understand good nutrition was part of the key. But understanding the brain and how starving it can make it hunt down high fat and sugar was crucial.

The brain and hunting down fat

We developed a template to be rewarded for eating high sugar and high fat foods back in our ancestral past. This burst of dopamine helped us to recognize which foods were likely to help us survive out on the planes of Africa during periods of famine. We were programmed in a feast or famine environment.

Up until 60 years ago, diets were geared up for manual labour. This sitting around in front of an office desk or in front of the TV just didn’t exist. Foods in the shops came in their component parts instead ready made. You had to put some effort in to get the calories out.

The good news about Sasha was she decided to ignore her mother, and to go to the gym, eat a healthy diet and understand she could take control of how to deal with being upset besides going for a packet of jammy dodgers. She also changed her job which helped immensely as her confidence improved ten fold.

Cecilia the smoothie queen

Cecilia was desperate for help. She had gained 4 stone in only a year as she couldn’t stop bingeing on chocolate and cakes. She hated herself. When I asked how it had happened. she told me she had placed herself on a low-calorie diet of 600 calories per day. She was drinking protein shakes and restricting for a week on and a week off. She managed to lose 2 stone and felt extremely healthy.

Things started to go wrong. Cecilia grew more and more hungry, to the point of no control. The urges got so bad she would walk into the nearest food shop and eat anything to stop the hunger pangs.

I explained that her complete depletion of will power could come from fatigue. She told me she found it an effort to be busy on her fasting days after about day 3. Then she’d binge for 3 days. Put herself on the restricted diet for 3 days before bingeing once more. The whole process was stressing her out, which of course will reduce will power. The more mentally busy we are the more that control has hold.

She ditched the low calorie and switched to low carb and could maintain that better, after realising what was going on

Self employed madness

Dan, a plumber came to me for addiction to fast food. At the initial consultation I went through a typical day for him. He wasn’t eating breakfast, or lunch, or having tea or coffee breaks. All he wanted to do was to get his work over with for the day and get home.

He had a wide range of customers who liked his work, but it was stressful being self-employed. What he didn’t know was how his brain was being fatigued by his actions and focusing all his attention on kebabs, pizzas, burgers and milkshakes. He told me that even when his wife would cook a healthy meal, he wouldn’t eat it and go out and buy a kebab! Ludicrous!

Once he realised what his brain was doing, we worked towards a solution which was for him to experiement over the next week, having different things for breakfast, lunch and breaks and see what worked best.

A week later he cancelled the next session because everything he’d put in place had worked, he wasn’t an addict, he had just starved himself at the wrong times.

So, fasting can work but it’s not for every one. If you struggle with fasting yourself, perhaps you need a slightly different approach. The kind of weight loss hypnotherapy I use is all about getting back in control. Being mindful of how you’re eating and understanding the effect of carbs v protein, and the role of stress on our bodies.

Also see Weight loss