Whenever I’ve heard about the benefits of a fast, or cleanse, I’ve always thought, “That is absolutely NOT for me!” For one thing, I get pretty cranky if I go without food for too long during the day. Then there’s my Type 1 diabetes to deal with… these fasts I’ve heard about are usually not recommended for someone like me.
Intermittent fasting, however is a whole different thing.
In a nutshell, with intermittent fasting (IF),you get most of the benefits of a longer fast, but it’s much easier, in my opinion. You have a 8 hour window (you can tailor it, but generally an 8-10 hour window is ideal) during the day of when you eat all of your meals and you don’t have to worry about eating the rest of the time. There are all sorts of ways to do IF, and if you do a little research on Google, you’ll find many articles about it. I’m only writing about the way I do it, and how it works for me.
Don’t worry about that saying “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” It probably is! Break + fast = breaking your fast. Breakfast, also known as your first meal of the day, doesn’t have to be eaten early in the day, and it certainly doesn’t need to be pancakes, waffles or whatever you consider “breakfast” foods. As for me, I’m much more likely to include veggies, nuts and other proteins into a mid-day meal than I am a morning meal. In fact, for years (and years and years) my standard daily breakfast was a piece of cinnamon toast- Gluten free bread, butter, and a little cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top. Does anyone believe that was my most important meal of the day? It certainly wasn’t my healthiest!
I eat lunch (usually a little after noon), occasionally an afternoon snack, and an early-ish dinner. At first, not eating a late night snack was hard, but that’s just because snacking at night while watching tv is fun! But it’s not necessary. And I’m not like a baby or puppy whose tummy needs to be full to sleep through the night. I’m sleeping at least as good as I was before changing my eating schedule.
The benefits of intermittent fasting for the average person is slightly different (again, you can read all about it online) but for me, here are the benefits I notice as a type 1 diabetic:
- I can maintain a very steady blood sugar the longer I go without food… therefore, going a solid 16 hours without eating, I don’t have to worry about the effects food will have on my blood sugar. That’s over half the day. And that’s a good thing for my blood sugar average, and therefore my a1C.
- I save time in the morning not having to deal with making and eating breakfast. I no longer concern myself with how my morning shot of fast acting insulin is going to effect my workout. Now, I don’t take any fast acting insulin until right before lunchtime.
- Even though I’m not trying to, I end up consuming less calories. And it’s mainly empty calories that have fallen by the wayside… My morning toast and evening snacks were never anything that packed in a lot of nutrients anyway!
Occasionally, I wake up in the morning with my blood sugar a little lower than I like it before my morning workout. Obviously, if that happens, I eat to take care of that. I find I usually don’t need more than about 5-7 grams of carbs since I don’t have any short acting insulin in the morning.
With intermittent fasting, you’re not necessarily reducing the amount of food you eat each day, just the scheduling of when you eat it. And if you’re like me, you might see good results without making much of a change.
As a reminder, I’m not a doctor, nurse, or a nutritionist. I am just a person with type 1 diabetes that is trying to live my healthiest life and when I stumbled upon things that work well FOR ME, I like to talk about them. Everyone is different, and different approaches work for different people. Always consult your doctor before making any changes in your diet.