As a society, I think it is nearly impossible not to feel overwhelmed with information. More and more of my clients come in complaining of symptoms of adult ADHD (poor working memory, brain fog, difficulty reading or staying on task).
Where I personally experience ‘information overload’ is with nutrition and eating well. Even as a functional medicine practitioner, it is still confusing. So, let me share my two cents in the hope it makes your life simpler.
A few weeks ago, one of my clients asked me about intermittent fasting. I touched on it briefly and noted I could perhaps discuss it further in a post, so here we go.
Intermittent fasting is a form of time restricted eating. All this means is that you eat within a specified time frame during the day. A common time frame is 12 noon – 8 pm. So, your first meal of the day is lunch, and you stop eating at 8 pm. That is considered a 16-8 fasting schedule. You are fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8 hours.
There are many benefits to this eating pattern, one of the main benefits is it gives your gut some rest and allows cells to rebuild. Secondly, it allows you to become more insulin sensitive. This is important because of insulin’s role in regulating blood glucose levels, which of course affects your energy production. Every time you eat or sip something that contains protein or carbohydrates (yes, even iced tea), your pancreas secretes insulin in response to the glucose rise. Your cells can only take in so much energy and the extra gets stored as fat.
The problem is – what works for one person may not work for another. You might try skipping breakfast one day and soar through it, while another person feels lightheaded and nauseous.
TIME TO SIMPLIFY
Why are you doing it? Why are you skipping breakfast? There is nothing wrong with eating three meals a day. What you eat and how often you eat is much more important. I would never suggest two meals a day for a woman in her 40’s working full time, young children, stressed out (cortisol in high production). This woman needs to take stress away from her body, not add to it (which is what skipping breakfast would do for her). She needs to fuel her body with a breakfast containing low glycemic foods that will sustain her energy until lunch. This will inform her cells she is not in trouble, bring down the cortisol, bring down the insulin, and mobilize the fat stores. This is much more efficient and conducive to weight control.
On the other hand, if there is very little stress in your life, and you have a very easy time skipping breakfast and confining your eating window to 8 hours, then great. Try it out and see how you feel. Take it day by day. N=1, right?
So, to answer your question on whether you should practice intermittent fasting?
First ask yourself ‘Why are you doing it?’ and remind yourself what works for one, doesn’t work for all.
Bottom line – what you eat, your level of daily movement, how you sleep, your connection with others and how you manage stress makes a greater impact on your health than when you eat. If you approach food as information for your body, then you have a healthy relationship with food.
Which foods carry the most information to your cells? Answer: Foods without a label. Food with minimal ingredients. This doesn’t have to be complicated folks. There are some foundational supplements I feel we should all be taking (due to mineral depletion in our soils and therefore vitamin depletion in our foods), and anything more than that should be well-researched in terms of your ‘why’. If it is due to a commercial or ad in a magazine, that is not a good ‘why’.
“What you eat, your level of daily movement, how you sleep, your connection with others and how you manage stress makes a greater impact on your health than when you eat.“
Always go back to your why when life gets complicated.
When you simplify life – you get out of your head. People spend way too much time in their heads and not enough time just doing. Just do it. I no longer have young kids, but if you do, observe them. They are so joyful. Why? Because they are not in their heads.
Should I eat? Or shouldn’t I eat? If you are hungry, eat the GD (that stands for gull darn – of course) apple, chicken, egg, potato, or whatever it is you are debating about. If it was made in a factory, then don’t.
I started this post speaking about information overload. We are spending way too much PRECIOUS time on trying to decipher the information. I am not telling you to ignore it completely, but instead read it carefully. And if you are someone that is very interested in nutrition, but don’t have the time to spend one hour a week reviewing the articles, then either go back to the basics or hire someone who can take the guesswork out. It is okay to ask for help.
Not only is it okay to ask for help, but it is proactive and follows the mindset of preventative medicine. Personally, if you are suffering from lack of energy, headaches, mental fog, digestive issues etc. you shouldn’t be ignoring those symptoms either.
You deserve health and it doesn’t need to be complicated.
There are great tests out there that are now available so that you don’t have to guess anymore. You can start by discussing your symptoms with your PCP and see how deep they can go in their testing. If the answer to your ‘why’ is not solved there, continue to dig. Don’t give up.
Here are 10 things I try do to simplify life.
- Find your why.
- Stay out of your head – don’t think – just do.
- Eat more food without labels.
- Be aware of what your body is telling you.
- Focus more on cortisol rather than calories.
- Outer order brings inner calm.
- Simplify your surroundings. If you don’t use it, get rid of it.
- Use schedules, lists, and Siri and Alexa.
- Love yourself above all others.
- Get rid of toxic people, food, chemicals, and thoughts.