I have recently been reading a VERY interesting book by a well-known UK medical journalist called Dr Michael Mosley. It has been lent to me by a friend who embarked on fasting as way to lose weight. The reason it is so interesting is that it is much, much more than just a diet. It is a lifestyle. It is about changing our daily eating habits to give our bodies chance to rest. I am not a doctor so I wouldn’t even want to begin to explain some of the physiological concepts but what I do know, and now believe, is that to ‘fast’ is a definite way to improve our health in the long-term.
When I was first told about fasting I dismissed it immediately. I didn’t believe that it was natural not to give our bodies food. But in fact it is natural to let our bodies simply rest and deal with the food you have given it in the previous hours. Dismissing fasting was on my part because I don’t honestly think I could do it. I know I couldn’t and to prove it in the last few days I have tried to fast between meals. I find this incredibly hard. So hard that after 3 hours I need to eat. However, I must make it clear I don’t need to lose weight. The book talks about the type of tests and measures you can take before embarking on fasting and one of them is your BMI or body mass index. This is the ratio between your height and your weight, and mine is under. I am according to the NHS BMI calculator under-weight and so I don’t have a need to fast in any other way than fasting between meals. If you want to look at your own BMI then go to http://www.nhs.uk/tools/pages/healthyweightcalculator.aspx
Another concept the book talks about is the amount of glycemic index of a food. This relates to the amount of energy carbohydrate based foods release when we eat them. It is considered that food with a GI under 50 is good. What this means to your body is that the food in question will release its energy slowly, which therefore prevents you from having a surge in blood sugars. High levels of blood sugars produce high levels of insulin resulting in our bodies over-producing insulin and not using the fat already stored in our cells. Over time this has a negative effect and can lead to Type 2 diabetes. It also means if we have a spike then eventually we have a crash leading us to feel hungrier much more quickly. So, if we do choose to fast then it is important we know which foods have a low GI, giving us a slow release of energy over a longer period of time. And naturally the more we eat of a certain food then the more GI it will have. So, we obviously eat a lot more potato in one sitting than kiwi fruit which means portion size should be considered when looking at the GI of a food.
Here are the favourite low GI foods that will help us along the way when we choose to fast –
Porridge GI 50
Muesli GI 50
Brown rice GI 48
Pasta GI 40
Strawberries GI 38
Apples GI 35
If you want a more comprehensive list then follow this link – http://www.glycemicindex.com
I found it really fascinating the foods that maybe we should avoid. Things like potatoes, white rice, cous cous, soy milk, a baguette and cornflakes. When eating a jacket potato you feel like you are doing the right thing when in GI terms it is actually very high at 85.
My conclusion –
As I mentioned earlier in the post I don’t have a need to fast for purposes of weight loss but I do feel after reading this book that I have a reason to fast to help my body do its job properly. I think many of us ignore the word ‘breakfast’ in our daily routines. Of course it means we break the fast between night and the new day. How many of us eat after our dinner in the evening? I think that maybe if we are then we aren’t eating the right type of food for our main meal of the day. How about looking at an average dinner and scoring the GI for the whole plate? It should be low and slow. A wholesome plate of puy lentils with aubergine, spinach and a small accompaniment of pasta, or maybe a plate of kale and butter beans with brown rice. Unappealing it may be to many of you but the slow release it offers our bodies serves to provide them with a ‘rest’ or a ‘fast’. It means that you will have a least 12 hours without food leaving you and your appetite ready for a hearty breakfast of porridge or muesli. For me this is just heaven and I will happily enjoy this way of eating. For others it may take some practice, patience and maybe a pinch of willpower. Fasting is not a fad or a diet it is completely and utterly a change in the way we look at the food we eat and when we eat it. In my situation it is a return to the old notion of three square meals a day. A notion that has disappeared over the decades as food has become available to us 24/7.
I might not be fasting in the true sense but I will be giving my body a reasonable break between meals each day, and as far as I am concerned that is good enough. A principle that I whole heartedly live by every day of my life!
If you want to read the book then here are the details –
The Fast Diet by Dr Michael Mosley & Mimi Spencer
Publised by Short Books
Thanks for reading and please share your thoughts with me. Lx