I’ve had more than a few struggles with regulating my hormones. Adult acne, regulating menstruation and fertility issues, and more have plagued me for at least the last couple decades of my life. I’ve tried various ways to manage these issues, but I think I’ve found a keeper with healthy fasting, or intermittent fasting.
How I’m Defining Healthy Fasting
On the surface, fasting isn’t really something that appeals to me. I’ve dabbled with juice cleanses and basically unhealthy eating habits. I tend to eat when I’m bored, and then be annoyed with myself for doing that. Add in a toddler and a pandemic, and it’s been a crazy last 18 months. And my body is reminding me that it’s unhappy. Persistent jawline acne, no period, foggy brain and low energy are my biggest tells when it comes to hormone imbalance.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, I’m a pitta kapha, which basically means I’m fiery but sedentary. I have a slower digestive system that does well with raw foods. Research shows that intermittent fasting can benefit those who are insulin-sensitive as well as help hormones regulate (and everything that goes with that, from better sleep to higher level of focus and productivity).
Healthy fasting, to me, is basically cutting out breakfast and eating after 6pm. I tried different strategies, like 12 hours fasting/12 hours consuming, and landed on what helps me feel best (18 hours fasting/6 hour consumption window). I feel my best when I’m eating mindfully and paying attention to what feels or sounds good.
Tips I’ve Gleaned From One Month of Intermittent Fasting
Fasting isn’t for everyone. I’ve chatted about it with friends who have wrestled with disordered eating, and the thought of placing *rules* around food or when/how to eat is triggering for them. It’s also not recommended for vata dosha types.
If you’re interested in trying out intermittent fasting, here are some tips that I’ve picked up in my time:
- Try different fasting strategies. Like I said, I tried going 12 hours, 16 hours, 18 hours, and 20 hours before landing on the 18 hours. Give each strategy a few days to observe with compassion and honesty. How are you *really* feeling?
- If you need to break your fast, don’t punish yourself. Part of my baggage with food is that kind of shame associated with snacking or eating what’s easy versus what’s actually going to benefit me. Focusing my eating time forces me to make more mindful choices. But at the same time, I’m letting go of the punishment cycle. And if I want to have breakfast with my family on Saturday, I’m going to have breakfast with my family. And I’ll get back on the fast tomorrow.
- Don’t limit caloric intake. Eating a healthy lunch and dinner is part of makes intermittent fasting effective. Don’t think you need to go full fast (i.e. 500 calories or less per day).
- Explore liquids while fasting. Don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to just water. Try some infusions (just the essence, though!) and the wild, robust world of tea!
Join me on Fastic for a helpful tool to try out fasting! I’m not a huge fan of the gamification aspect of it, but I like the messages and educational content. It’s also helpful to have a timer and little notes about what’s happening in your body.