First of all – and you may want to skip this part – I’m no expert in nutrition, health or fitness. This is purely from my own experience this past month. That experience comes from intermittent fasting (if) rather than continuous fasting. I do not recommend any kind of fasting if you’re pregnant, underweight, suffering from diabetes, very young or very old… actually, I better just say, this is all on your own risk.
Here are some tips if you want to fast.
Five psychological ones
- Remember the why. Whether it’s weightloss, body cleansing, or something religious, we’ve all got our reasons for fasting. Remind yourself of it. Or fail. Write it down, if you have to. Whenever we take part in an activity which requires some effort, reminding ourselves of what we’re trying to achieve is key.
- Notice the progress you’re making. If it’s about losing weight, pay attention to the pounds. If it’s about practicing abstinence, pay attention to how long time you’ve succesfully been fasting. In other words, let yourself know that your work is paying off. It’s working!
- Reframe your feeling of hunger. I used to think that when I was hungry, it meant that I was dying. It doesn’t. It means I’m burning calories that I haven’t consumed—meaning I’m getting rid of the love handles. The point is this, a feeling can be interpreted different ways. You can either interpret it as “I have to eat” or you can interpret it as the feeling of a good fast.
- Tell other people you’re fasting. Tell them why you’re doing it and how strict you want to be with yourself during the fast. It helps you go through with it, if you make yourself accountable to close friends.
- Enjoy the extra time you’ve got on your hands. One of the things I realized when I started fasting was how much time I usually spend on preparing and consuming meals. Now that I fast, I get some extra time on my hands—for work, and for fun! And if you keep yourself busy at those times, you’ll keep yourself from thinking about food.
Four practical ones
- Drink plenty of water. (If your fasting programme allows for it—I’m aware some Muslims won’t drink during the Ramadan.) Stay away from sugary drinks at any cost as these will only make you even more hungry, and if you’re doing it to lose weight, they kind of defeat the purpose, anyway. Drinks with artificial sweeteners may be an option, but I’m not certain I would recommend it. You may drink tea, but drink water as well.
- Chew gum with no sugar. It works well for me, so try it. If it doesn’t work well for you, fine.
- Avoid kitchens and shops that sell food. Even if you’re very self-disciplined and can resist temptation, the smell of food will drive you nuts.
- Don’t go to bed before normal bedtime. Sleeping through your fast is an option, I guess, and a tempting one at that. After all, you might feel more tired when you don’t get the sugar kick you’re used to. But whether you’re fasting to lose weight or to grow spiritually (or something different), sleeping through it won’t help you reach that goal.