By Khadijah Khogeer
[Trigger Warning: this article discusses diet-restriction and fasting.]
Since New Year’s Eve, I decided to try a new diet each week in the hopes of finding a long-term solution to my unhealthy eating habits, most of which I developed due to college stress. I tried a vegan diet for a week during the Fall semester, but it wasn’t a sustainable option for me since I couldn’t sacrifice eating meat and dairy products forever.
I searched for diets that didn’t have strict food eliminations — strict by my standards, at least. One popular diet that caught my attention in 2020 was intermittent fasting. You may have heard this phrase before and wondered, what exactly is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a diet where each day you set a specific window of time to eat. Once the window closes, you enter a fasting period. Some of the claimed benefits of intermittent fasting include: regulating insulin levels, curbing appetite and increasing mental focus throughout the day.
There are multiple ways to schedule your intermittent fasting cycle. Some common options are:
- The 16/8 method: Eating for eight hours and fasting for 16 hours.
- The 12/12 method: Eating for 12 hours and fasting for 12 hours.
Since I am an intermittent fasting newbie, I chose the 16/8 schedule. For one week, I had an eight-hour window to eat during the day. Then, I had to fast for the other 16 hours.
I woke up at 8 a.m. during this week, ate from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and slept at 10 p.m. My first meal consisted of a bowl of oatmeal, fruits and coffee. I then had lunch at around 3 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m. I skipped fasting one day out of the seven because of my birthday — I wanted to eat freely throughout the day. To my surprise, bouncing back into intermittent fasting the next day was easy.
The first two days of the week were difficult since I was used to eating later in the night. If you are a late-night snacker like myself, intermittent fasting can help control this habit. I noticed that now I am no longer hungry late at night and I avoid unhealthy snacks before bed.
Another reason I enjoyed intermittent fasting is that it doesn’t restrict the food groups or calories you can consume. It encouraged a healthier relationship with food since I wasn’t focused on calories or food content. My goal while on this diet wasn’t losing weight, so I did not associate my eating habits with my weight.
Intermittent fasting is a flexible diet. You can choose when your eating window starts and ends, how long the fasting cycle lasts and which days to fast on. As a college student with a schedule that varies every day, scheduling my intermittent fasting was easy. I would continue intermittently fasting when I feel like I need more structure to my eating in the day, but not every day.