So as I recently discussed, I attempted a water fast this past week. In that past I had gone more than 24 hours without food at all and I was feeling pretty good about it. I made it to 48 hours before I fell under the spell of the food sitting in my refrigerator. Truth be told I didn’t feel hungry but the desire to eat psychologically was stronger than expected. I had food sitting there and I just caved in.
But I was proud of the fasting period, however. Even after eating I felt less dense than I normally do after eating. It was Chinese food too, with rice no less! But eating felt good and comfortable. I ate just a bit too much, but I didn’t bloat terribly or feel sick. This let me feel a bit overconfident and the following day I splurged on McDonalds just because I felt I could handle it.
Honestly, it didn’t destroy me like I thought it would, but it wasn’t enjoyable either. After the first few bites, which were pretty fantastic, I soon began eating mindlessly even though it tasted bland and fake. My stomach immediately protested as well. I also grabbed a candy bar thinking I would treat myself. Literally 10 minutes later, while exploring plants and other building materials I realized I needed to go to the bathroom – right then!!
Soooo that was a learning experience. My body seemed to very clearly give its opinion on the subject and my personal preference was not taken into consideration. Apparently after giving my body two days to reset itself, it doesn’t appreciate whatever was in the McDonalds and especially the candy bar. I am guessing more the candy bar as since all sugary treats make me react the same way.
However, I have also noticed how foods impact me and how long the consequence lasts. It seems that whatever I eat today will last into tomorrow and then by the evening I feel better and can resume my eating style. So if I splurge on McDonalds, I feel nauseated soon after, bloated and heavy that evening and the next day my movements are not particularly enjoyable. By the evening though I feel normal again. ‘Normal’ now means I barely notice digestion at all and my stomach is flatter and calm.
My recovery seems predictable now which means if I do decide to eat food I do not prefer but feel socially obligated (friend’s dinner) or indulge an urge I know how long the consequences will last. Depending on the frequency this can also impact how it influences my weight and health. One poorly chosen meal is not likely to destroy everything.
I find cravings are easier too. They feel more like desires rather than immediate needs. I saw chocolate cupcakes in the breakroom today and wanted to eat one, but realized I didn’t need to and since I plan to workout after work, I would rather not be bloated and uncomfortable. I have to balance my immediate desire over my plans for the next two days.
Fortunately the trade off is becoming less and less worth it.
While before it was all about giving up what I love to eat and finding alternatives, now its about how those foods make me feel and for how long. I know that weight gain follows a trend in eating, not necessarily due to a single meal. Insulin spikes over and over every day cause sensitivity problems. High blood pressure day after day is what stresses your heart. You can eat what you want (outside of allergies) as long its not every day, multiple times a day.
Wheat is the exception. I find that anything with wheat makes me immediately sick and the effects do tend to last longer than two days.
The other side however, is figuring out why I eat what I eat. Sure I can eat a meal of not-so-good-foods and only suffer for two days at most, but why would I want to? The balance is not just negotiating the foods you aren’t supposed to eat, but filling your diet with such good options that any poor choices will have minimal impact.
When your body is satisfied in nutrients and can easily process them, it doesn’t have cravings for poor things. Eating them will likely not be as big of a deal in limited quantity. But why do I want to in the first place? What can I get from them that I cannot get from food I never have to worry about after I eat it?
My current challenge is filling in the gaps between fewer and fewer poor choices and fasting. I can fast well now. I can avoid foods better. But what am I nourishing my body with? That I have not balanced out yet. I can go 20+ hours without food without much trouble. I can avoid soda and pasta and bread fairly well too. I have fat stores to hold me over so I stop noticing hunger.
I am not nourishing my body with new and better foods. I sort of eat randomly. My window is fairly short, so whatever I snack on tends to fill me up completely. So if I indulge myself at the store with chips to just snack on them, I am likely to feel full by the time I get home and not want to eat anything else. My entire meal was chips!
While I satisfy an immediate need for salty crunchiness, I manage to only feed my body potatoes and flavorings in the meantime. While I can use my fat stores, its probably not the healthiest option.
So balance is key.
I can choose not to eat to give my body a break.
I can choose not to eat foods that are terrible for me and if I do I know the consequence will only last a day or so.
I can choose not to eat foods that are terrible for me that I do not recover from as easily.
Now I just have to fill in the rest of my eating with *only* foods that will nourish me fully with the occasional treat here and there. Except chocolate which I apparently cannot handle at all!
I plan to start lifting weights this week which means my hunger demands and energy needs will change. It means I need to focus on what I eat far more than what I don’t eat.
Often diet and lifestyle change is about what you must cut out of your life. But for me I also need to put just as much focus on what I put back in. It doesn’t just default to any particular set of rules on its own.
It seems I have a new challenge.