There are so many misconceptions about Intermittent Fasting (IF) floating around on the internet these days. Imagine what it was like when I first tried IF over ten years ago! It was difficult to find reliable and accurate information…so I made quite a few mistakes.
Funny thing though: several of the mistakes that I made back then are still being made by people starting IF now. It just goes to show that more access to information doesn’t always work the way it should.
Here are some of the mistakes I made and some suggestions on how to avoid making them yourself.
As I mentioned, there wasn’t a lot of reliable information out there when I started. People thought that IF was the same as fasting that you might see for religious purposes. It’s an easy assumption to make, especially if you don’t have facts that prove otherwise.
When facts aren’t readily available, people tend to either make things up or wing it. Neither of those is very reliable in the long run, especially when you’re dealing with your health.
…doing your homework. Fortunately, now, IF has become more popular. And that popularity has forced professionals (including doctors) to take a closer look at the benefits (and pitfalls) that a person might experience with IF.
There’s so much more information out there, from the anecdotal to the scientific. Read as much as you can and be sure to talk to your doctor before you try it, especially if you have other health concerns (such as diabetes).
Because there was very scarce info, I took what I could find and ran with it. As a result, it took me a while to get it right.
I did too much, in that I tried to change my eating habits all at once. It was a sure way to fail because I didn’t take other things (like my family/work schedule) into consideration. So, when I attempted to correct some of these things, it swung the other way, and I did too little, which wasn’t effective either.
In other words, my IF attempts were all over the place.
…fitting it into your existing schedules. Along with doing your homework, take all of your schedules into consideration. That includes general family, partner, kids, work, etc. If you’re shuttling kids to practices and too busy to eat during part of your eating window, you’ll throw yourself off.
Look at the available options, like 16:8 or 5:2, and see which one fits in with your established schedules. You’ll find it much easier to keep up with if you’re not stressed about making it all work together.
Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t know what foods to eat, because I already had a good sense of what was healthy for me and what wasn’t. Where I got tripped up, though, was deciding what to eat and when, especially as I narrowed my IF windows.
Picking the wrong foods to eat can make you hungrier in your fasting times, which in turn makes you want to eat more in your eating periods. If you’re swinging between not eating enough and eating too much depending on what period you’re in, you’re not doing yourself any favors.
…establishing and maintaining good food choices and habits. Make sure that you are eating sufficient calorie levels when you do have your eating periods and reach those caloric goals with healthy food choices.
That’s not to say that you can’t indulge in pizza or pasta, or whatever happens to be your favorite “cheat” food. But do it in moderation, sticking to the IF schedule you have chosen. And don’t indulge every day.
I didn’t make this mistake, but I see it happen often. People expect results right away and get discouraged when they don’t see them. Then they either try to make other changes or give up altogether before giving themselves a chance to see it actually all work.
…embracing it for what it is. As I have mentioned in other blogs and in my book, trying IF is not a quick fix. It requires a commitment to changing your attitude toward food and how (and when) you eat.
And because of this, it takes time to get into the rhythm of, iron out the bumps, and allow the process to do its thing. I’ll say it again – it takes time.
But, if you are smart and do your research, find the IF program that works for you, remain aware of your eating habits, and have the patience to give it a chance, I hope you will avoid these common mistakes that I made. Good luck!
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