By Reena A Jadhav
I love snacking! Grazing all day on nuts, Ferraro Rocher, Nutella, cookies dipped in tea ...give me little sweet treats (like a child) all day long and I’m blissed out.
Well, then this happened.
In 2017, I almost ended up dying, 28 symptoms attacking me daily, and had to figure out an exit strategy from the grave.
After a mini PhD in healing, I decided to embark on intermittent fasting with 2 large meals and herbal tea the rest of the day.
I wanted the promised land of reduced inflammation, gut healing, mitochondrial recovery, organ rejuvenation, mental clarity, sleep through the night and beating away of sugar cravings.
I could almost envision the new me through the shimmering mirage, all healed and rash free. No more swollen fingers like stumps or big hives on my cheeks. No more funky black lines on my palms or bathroom runs 10 times a day!
I was so ready to get my life back. To heal.
So I deeply thought through which day to commence my march to super health (I didn’t want vacations or parties to interrupt my carefully crafted design back to health). March 1 seemed like a great day for new beginnings.
So it was that on March 1, 2017, I began an intermittent fast (IF) that would take me through an adventurous rocky road of recovery. A topsy-turvy roller coaster ...did I mention hate scary rides?
Here are the 5 crazy things I wish someone had told me when I first started! Why? Because any challenge can only be won with preparation. You can’t go into a battlefield without a plan and resources. Knowing where the mines are will get you to the end goal of not eating for 14 to 18 hours. I stumbled around for months before getting into the rhythm of a dinner by 7 pm and lunch at 12 pm. Here’s how I did it!
5 crazy things about intermittant fasting no one tells you (and how to get through them!)
So here are my top tips for ‘body maintenance’ and to your body thriving!
- Cravings -this fasting is NOT helping!
They tell you IF kills cravings. What they don’t tell you is that fasting first pumps up the cravings and only if you defeat the dragon do they go away. My first week of IM was actually not so bad the second week of not eating after 7 pm brought out the sugar beast in me like never before. I would wake up with the strangest cravings for Baked Alaska and Chocolate Halwa, delicacies I had not devoured in decades. I got worried I was pregnant! My family freaked out and there were many times when my husband would restrain me while my daughter quickly grabbed the cookie box/chocolate bag/ice-cream carton out of my hands and hid it or threw it away. It got very ugly. It turns out the hormone ghrelin is the troublemaker here. When you start any kind of fasting it rises and rises and rises, creating that sense of desperate hunger. But it soon settles down into the new norm. To get through the rough few weeks of my battle with ghrelin I adopted the “honey on tongue” trick- I would put a dab of raw organic honey on my tongue and savor it till the desire to eat an entire cake would vanish. Another trick that worked was herbal cinnamon tulsi tea with monk fruit sweetener. So get ready to find your “honey on tongue” trick that will get you through the ghrelin spikes.
- Binges - food frenzy coming on!
Apparently, IM should shrink our stomachs so we eat less. Clearly, my stomach didn’t get that WhatsApp alert. Till today, my daughter is horrified at how much I eat at, what I call, “feeding time”. Ever gone to a zoo and watched animal feeding? See how all the animals get so excited and eat voraciously, without stopping to breathe, until all the food is gone? That’s the new me. At 12 pm sharp I eat everything in sight. I always ate like a bird, according to my family. Now I eat like an elephant. It’s almost like my body knows there’s no food coming for 14+ hours and its time to hoard. The first few weeks I would eat less and be starving within an hour. My digestive juices were trained to wake up every hour on the hour due to my grazing habits. They were so confused when no little snack would show up. They would go nuts, demanding something to digest. It was quite an exercise in willpower! Which I really didn’t have much of those first few months- I was constantly in the pantry eye worshiping what I would eat at the next meal. It was quite comical for my family to watch, as they tell me. Then I got smart and started overeating and adding heavier proteins that would take longer to digest. Another great addition was psyllium husk that bulked up the meal. It took almost a month to retrain my digestion to only wake up at 12 pm and 5 pm but it eventually worked!But I still eat for about 1.5 hour each meal in quantity and variety that continues to horrify my 14-year-old!
- Chirpings - wake up at 4:30 am!
I’ve never been a morning person, I love hitting snooze, snuggling in deeper and getting just a “few more minutes” of sleep. IF killed that indulgence, fast! Within 3 weeks I would wake up at 4:30 am like an alarm, without an alarm, and be wired without caffeine or sugar. I would try to get back in the dream state only to have my mind fully awake and ready to rock and roll. Something truly magical happened to bring my body into a balance that it hadn’t had since my middle school days. I had so much energy that I would go for a run and come back singing ready to get to work! No caffeine or banana chocolate chip muffin needed.With my dinner ending by 7 PM, I learned the trick that if I went to bed by 10 PM I would miss the hunger cycle. But if I was up at 11 PM I was back in the pantry starving and binging. So I changed my night owl routine just to stop myself from raiding the pantry. This one small change, I believe, kickstarted my tsunami of healing. It turns out that our body is naturally designed to wake up at dawn but in order for it do that it needs to work through the complex clean up and rejuvenation cycle. Which requires us to be in bed by 10 PM. Ayurveda also recommends finishing dinner 4 hours before sleep time to allow the body to focus on rejuvenation instead of digestion at night. So, if you want to sail through your IF transition then schedule bedtime at 10 PM and you’ll see amazing results!
- Feelings - anger, sadness, fatigue, cold, hot
I’ve always been an even-keeled, low key, stable emotions kinda woman. No throwing things or wanting to ram into cars on the road. That all changed with IF. The first month I felt a gamut of emotions I had never experienced before. From road rage to sobbing for brownies...from freezing to melting …it was all very confusing. And painful enough to make me want to give it all up. My body was fighting the change with all its might. There’s science that supports emotional healing as the body heals, which means lots of deep down hurt wells up and then disappears.My family was fighting the change with all their might. They just wanted the old “Mom and Wife” back; this new one was a firecracker. The cause of all this mayhem? A combination of low blood sugar, blood flowing to fat stores, dehydration, hangry hormones and more. It was all very touch and go for a while. But I’m not known to give up, no matter how tough the climb. So I persisted with constant deep breathing and meditations. Something called Tranquil Mind herbal helped tremendously. So did baking, not working out and cutting down my commitments. Recently, I interviewed Susan of Brightline Eating on my HEALTHIER podcast and she shared the science behind willpower as well as recommending not working out during fasts and transitions. So if you’re going to embark on a successful IF protocol long term, skip the exhausting gym visits and slow down your pace the first few weeks or months...or till your body settles into the new rhythm.
- Rumblings - shouldn’t my digestion be better?
I remember the first week facing off with the loud sounds my belly made all the way from 8 am till 12 pm. Until I fed it, it made a fuss like a child!I hoped it was just a few days of drama but it lasted several weeks. Annoying and a little embarrasing frankly.My digestive reset took close to a month and gave me everything from bloating to constipation, both known side effects of IF. Constipation I resolved through psyllium husk which also kept me bulked up between long meal breaks. Funky cramping tummy I fixed through herbal mint and tulsi teas. So there you have it! You have been informed of the perils that lie ahead in your journey to an IF lifestyle as well as simple tips remedies. Overall the benefits outweigh the drama and justify the upheavel this change inevitably brings with it. But ...IF not for everyone and certainly not forever. So, 3 to 4 days a week I tell my body when to eat and the rest of the days I listen to what it wants! For me, its become a happy celebration of health and indulgence. How about you? I would love to hear your IF stories, so do share with me on social media or in comments below!
Finally, get the MTFHR test done to determine if your liver could use additional support.
If you already have a chronic illness, prioritizing detoxing is critical. Our body cannot restore and rebuild if it's fighting off invaders. What's amazing is that the moment your body is free of toxins it literally blossoms! Your energy will go through the roof, your skin will glow, you'll see better, you'll smile more, you'll poop at least twice a day effortlessly. (Yep, you wanted to know about the pooping, right?)
More importantly, you'll know you are on the path to being disease free!
If you need help, we're are always here with a Health Bootcamp for you!
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