Spring has sprung and the diet/detox season is once again upon us as we tune in with Mother Nature’s rhythms to keep our bodies in optimum shape. Intermittent fasting (IF) can help you to lose weight, improve overall health and assist your body with its natural detoxification process. It’s a great way to cleanse after the winter period where we tend to overeat and hibernate!
Scientists have been exploring the benefits of intermittent or periodic fasting for decades. Studies have also shown that decreasing calorie consumption by 30 to 40 percent (regardless of how it’s done) can extend life span by a third or more. Plus, there’s data to suggest that limiting food intake may reduce the risk of many common diseases. (1)
So, how do we incorporate intermittent fasting into our diet? With so many different IF diets out there, such as the 5:2, Alternate Day and Warrior Diet just to name a few, it’s best to choose a method that suits your lifestyle and that you’re likely to stick to. Otherwise, it’s not sustainable and the benefits of your fasting may be short-lived. Perhaps you might like to have a consultation with your dietician or naturopath to find the one that best suits you. A simple and gentle approach to intermittent fasting is to have a weekly fast day (well, not truly a fast but more like a liquid diet day) on as many weeks as you can.
Weekly fast/liquid diet day
Choose a day when you can relax and take it easy, it’s best not to do too much physical or mental activity so that your body can rest and rejuvenate. Your fast day may look a little like this:
Upon rising – glass of warm water with a squeeze of lemon
Morning tea – vegetable juice
Lunch – light vegetable soup or bone broth
Afternoon tea – light vegetable soup or bone broth
Dinner – light vegetable soup or bone broth
Sip on as much water and herbal tea throughout the day as you desire
This works because the light and liquid quality of the food enables your digestive system to take a break, which ultimately improves the strength of the digestive juices and helps eliminate toxic build up.
It’s important to note that after a fast day you should slowly introduce foods and not delve into heavy greasy meals. Choose foods that are light, healthy and easily digestible such as stewed fruit, kongees, dahl and rice, stews, soups etc. A little bit of raw is ok as an accompaniment but best not to eat completely raw meals straight away as they are more difficult to digest.
Some important tips to aid in good digestion:
- As with all other species on the planet, human physiology is highly susceptible to circadian rhythms. For example, our digestion is optimal at midday and therefore we should eat our largest meal at this time. Eating big meals at other times of the day can lead to the accumulation of both weight and toxins.
- Leave at least two hours in between meals/snacks. This will allow the previous meal to fully digest.
- Do not combine too many different types of foods – keep meals simple. For example, don’t eat fruit after a big meal, avoid dessert after dinner, eat fruit on it’s own as a snack between meals, choose one type of protein source per meal and eat with vegetables or salad.
- Eat mindfully and take time to stop for meals, eating on the run can lead to indigestion.
- Enjoy your food!