When I turned 60 I decided that I no longer wanted to diet. My weight, that had been pretty stable in the middle of the normal range for most of my life, started to fluctuate in my late forties and fifties. I dieted quite successfully, kept the weight off for a couple of years and then it crept back up again. Repeat, repeat ad nauseam.
So when I passed the big milestone, I thought that my nearest and dearest didnt care if I was a bit overweight, and certainly no one else did either. So why should I? I still feel ok and I am healthy, my blood pressure is fine, no sign of diabetes. My cholesterol is a bit high, but these days research has cast significant doubt on whether high cholesterol really is the problem it was always supposed to be. Some overweight is even recommended for seniors, as an insurance during a possible health crisis. My BMI is 28, which does not please me particularly, but neither is it cause for alarm.
Then I saw Michael Mosely’s documentary on fasting and was quite fascinated. Fasting as a rejuvenation for the body seemed really attractive. But I wasn’t sure if I could do it, so I prevaricated for a couple of month while trying to make friends with the idea. Christmas may have had something to do with the delay as well.
I finally started this week, and fasted for two separate days. It was surprisingly easy, much easier than I anticipated. I wasn’t hungry at all. A little bit of a furry feeling in the mouth, a few passing thoughts about food I couldn’t have, but nothing more challenging. I ate my 500 cals over three meals and one snack, drank lots of herb tea and felt absolutely fine. No lack of energy and a weird feeling of virtue. Where was my halo?
The next morning after a fast day I wasn’t any hungrier than usual, and throughout the day I found myself pegging back on food. My stomach had shrunk.
This is really surprising. I find sticking to a low calorie diet over extended periods very difficult. 1400 cals for months on end is the pits, and I might only lose 1kg a month if I’m lucky. But with the 5:2 diet I can eat normally most of the time. Denying myself food on the fast days is much more bearable, because I know I can eat whatever I want tomorrow. And miraculously, when tomorrow comes I eat quite modestly.
One week on the diet is early days. Maybe it will get harder as I go on. I have no idea if I have benefitted health wise, and I have not even bothered to weigh myself and probably won’t. But I feel fine and this looks like something I could do for a very long time.
One thing I think is a must, is to plan my menu for the fast day, and to eat something I like. The right food needs to be to hand, or I might be easy to eat something I shouldnt. I also need to be busy, the busier the better. The less time I have to think about food the less I miss it.
What did I eat on the fast days? I know lots of people recommend low carbs and high protein. I don’t agree with this, or at least my body doesn’t. I need starch and fruit and vegetables. I have to agree that refined carbs are not ideal and try to avoid those, but my body demands healthy carbs. I don’t fight that, because on one of the science podcasts I listen to (science is my other hobby besides textiles), they were talking about a research study that compared various diets with different protein, carb and fat percentages. The take home message was that the mice on the high protein/low carb diet were the leanest, but had the shortest life span. The mice on the high carb/low protein diet were fatter, but lived 30% longer on average. 30%! Ok, so they were talking about rodents, but that is still something to think about.
This was what I ate:
– a porridge made with one whole egg, a spoon of oats and a spoon of milk powder, plus enough water for a pleasing consistency, microwaved
– five raw almonds for morning tea
– two wholemeal crisp breads with duck a l’orange pate, a couple of slices of tomato and lettuce for lunch
– a small tomato and a small plum for dinner one day, and 250g of paw paw on the other
I also had a white cup of tea, no sugar, on waking and lots of camomile and mint tea throughout the day.
I am not setting myself up as a nutrition guru here, I’m sure lots of people could cram more nutrients into the 500 cals, but I was happy with what I was eating and had no trouble sticking to my fast. That’s enough for me. I’m sure I can find other things that work just as well, variety is the spice of life after all. Smoked salmon looks like a nice alternative to the pate.
So watch this space. If you see me shrinking in my photos over the next few months you will know that the weight loss aspect is working. The other health benefits are harder to measure, but I am hoping to feel better, and maybe feel a bit younger too. The proof of the pudding, as they say ……. 😊