I just went to get a coffee – my second for the day. I haven’t had breakfast, and I’m hungry. I strongly considered a muffin, then a pastry, then a piece of slice, and then I said no. No muffin.
So I ate a whole lot of chocolate over the Easter weekend, and I also ate a bunch of other stuff I shouldn’t (hello McDonald’s dinner while driving on Saturday night), but today I’ve had a victory. No muffin.
Yesterday was my 10th (full) fasting day, which means I’m about to head into my sixth week of 5:2. Hooray! Yesterday was a great fasting day – I actually didn’t feel hungry, nor did my brain start to fade, until 4 pm – so I didn’t eat anything (besides a cup of coffee) until 4 pm. Unfortunately my morning didn’t start off so smoothly though. Yesterday, I learned what happens when calorie counting goes wrong.
When I first started considering 5:2, the very first food I checked on CalorieKing was coffee. After all, a day that starts with coffee is manageable no matter how few calories you can have. A day without coffee… not so much. So I distinctly remember looking up the calories of the coffee itself, and being surprised to find that there’s pretty much zero calories there, then looking up skim milk. A 220ml (small) coffee with skim milk is approximately 70 calories.
Unfortunately for me this seems to be the point where I got myself confused. At home we always have Paul’s Pure Organic Unhomogenised Full Cream Milk in the fridge. It’s delicious, and from the start I assumed I couldn’t have it on fasting days- but I looked it up anyway. I think what I probably did at this point was get the 70 calories confused with the milliliters of milk in the drink, thus looking up 70 ml of milk and finding it had about the same number of calories. Which means for the last five weeks I’ve been consuming an extra 100 calories each fasting day, bringing my total to somewhere around 600 calories. Bugger.
Anyway, the fix to this is easy – switch the full cream milk for skim in my morning coffee on fasting days. Done! That’s an easy 100 calorie swap, and without even noticing it (I normally order skim lattes when I’m buying them anyway) I’ll have dropped down to 500. The interesting thing will be to see what effect taking that extra 100 calories out has in terms of weight loss. The 5:2 is definitely having an effect, although it’s very slow. Don’t get me wrong, slow and steady is great, especially because it’s sustainable, but I did think there might be some faster changes at the very beginning. Maybe this change of 100 calories will make the difference!
So, today is my ninth fasting day. Ninth! That means I’m in my fifth week of fasting. Woah. I haven’t weighed myself recently, so I don’t know whether it’s having big impact or little impact right now, but I’ll do that tomorrow morning and report back.
It’s funny, I’ve had three really great fasting days recently, but today’s feeling harder. I’ve drunk lots of water and tea, and I held off with lunch until reasonably late, but it’s 4 pm and I’m really hungry and my brain’s fading. The silly thing is that I haven’t had the apple or cottage cheese I’ve allocated myself for snacks, so I actually have food there, but I’ve been getting into the habit of eating less during the day so I can have a bit of protein with my dinner, and come in a tad under 500 calories. Tonight is an all-veg meal, so perhaps I should just eat the cheese now. Or, as I’ve just calculated, I could have two squares of lindt 70% chocolate after dinner. Decisions!!!
The last four weeks of fasting have not only given my body a break to start changing, but also given my mind a chance to start thinking and reflecting. As well as that, I’m seeing some small changes to my non-fasting days, without even intending to. They’re small, but they’re a start – and they’re sustainable. So without further ado, here’s three things that fasting’s encouraged me to do:
- Consciously eat
I think I suffer from a little bit of food fomo. No matter what I eat, I hurry through it lest I miss out on the next thing. Eating on fasting days, especially eating dinner on fasting days, has forced me to slow down. Once I realise that after this dinner is gone there is no more, I slow down my eating. I enjoy each mouthful, I take my time, I chew properly, and I savor the taste that lingers in my mouth after I’ve finished the meal. The same thought is starting to pop into my mind while I eat on non-fasting days now. Slow down, savor the food – you don’t need anything more than what is on your plate.
- Drink more water
On fasting days, I’ve started filling a waterbottle and having it on my desk. I sip it throughout the day, and it keeps the tummy rumbles away. I’m not normally great at drinking much water, so this is a big step for me. Having the bottle there on non-fasting days means I’ve started sipping throughout the day on those days as well, which can only be a good thing!
- Question my hunger
For the most part (excluding this afternoon) I rarely feel hungry on fasting days. I feel peckish by lunchtime, but I snack slowly across the afternoon. The only time I feel really hungry is the occasional morning after I have fasted, which is probably because of the lack of protein in my dinner. I often think I’m hungry while I’m cooking dinner, but when I really think about it I realise it’s just habit. Habit that I normally eat at this time, habit that I don’t have anything else to do right at that moment, habit that I should be hungry. Rarely am I actually hungry.
So here I am at the start of fasting day #4. When I say start, I mean it’s 12:47 pm and besides my morning coffee I’m yet to eat. I’ve just made myself a cup of green tea- the hope is that if I have that, I might actually put of eating for a little bit longer than usual. Ultimately I think it will depend on how my brain goes- I can fill my stomach with water, but if my brain fades then I’ll need to eat.
5:2 so far has been an interesting exercise in reflecting on my usual eating habits, and what my body wants vs what my mind wants. Do I, for example, need to be eating breakfast on non-fasting days? If I’m fine up until 12:30 ish without food, then is breakfast just extra calories I don’t need? My PT says no, I should be eating breakfast. A high protein breakfast at that. I’m not so sure – so I’ll keep listening to my body to figure it out.
So, day four of fasting, and I’ll be eating the same dinner for the third time. I’ve tried two different dinner recipes so far – I’m in search for some more! I need to refine my second one a bit before I post it here, but for now I thought I’d share my stirfry recipe that comes in under 250 calories.
- 90 g red/spanish onion, sliced into strips – 22 calories
- 150 g (1 bunch) asparagus, ends trimmed off, cut in half – 32 calories
- 150 g mushrooms, ends trimmed, cut in half – 38 calories
- 100 g snowpeas or green beans – approx. 35 calories (depending on which ingredient you use)
- 124 g zucchini, cut in half lengthways then into 1.5 cm chunks – 19 calories
- 100 g broccoli, cut into small florets – 30 calories
- 2 tbsp soy sauce – 4o calories
- 1 tsp cornflour – approx. 36 calories
- In a frying pan or wok, cook onion until well cooked (if you’ve got some calories to play with, use a very small amount of oil for this)
- When onion is well cooked, add all other veggies (if you prefer non-crunchy broccoli, add this first for a few minutes)
- Stir cornflour into a small amount of water in a glass, then add to the pan (this will give you a thickened sauce)
- Add soy sauce, and salt/pepper to taste. You won’t need much/any salt, but go to town with the pepper!
- When veggies are cooked to you preferred softness, serve.
This recipe makes two decent-seized bowls. Depending on how hungry you are, it’s more than one serve- have a play with it, and adjust according to what works best for you. If you’re not so much of an end-of-day eater, you could easily have half of this portion for lunch and half for dinner, freeing up extra calories for snacking.
Note: when I’m not fasting, I make this stirfry with chicken. I just brown off the chicken before cooking the onion, remove it from the pan, and add it again to finish cooking with the rest of the veggies.
(excuse the horrible pictures, but it gives you an idea!!)
A fasting day on a stressful and busy day at work is a funny thing. In some respects it’s lot easier – the more time I spend thinking about my work, or stressing about deadlines, or muddling over what my manager’s email might have meant, the less time I spend thinking about the food I’m not eating. Equally, the busier I am, the quicker my morning goes which means I start the ‘eating’ portion of my day later. On the other hand, the things I’d normally turn to for stress relief or to break up a busy day (chocolate, coffee, anything from a vending machine) aren’t available to me on fasting days. But then again, I suppose that’s a good thing. So on the balance of things, fasting day + busy work day = positive.
I mentioned waiting until later in the day before I start eating- this is really, really important for me. Once I start eating, I think about eating a lot. I guess this goes for fasting and non-fasting days. And once I start thinking about eating, I eat more (duh). My fasting days so far have all looked pretty similar:
- 9 am – small coffee (latte)
- 1 pm(ish) – pull out my massive container of chopped veggies and start chomping
- 3 pm (ish) – finish chomping through massive container of veggies
- 3:10 pm – start thinking about eating. Tell self that I’ve just finished lunch, and don’t need food right now
- 3:20 pm – tell self that I should hold off until 4 pm to eat my cottage cheese
- 3:30 pm – decide that I CAN hold off until 4 pm to eat my cottage cheese
- 3:40 pm – ponder that if I hold off eating my cottage cheese util 4 pm, then I won’t eat my apple at work – I can save it for dessert!
- 4 pm – consider getting cottage cheese out of fridge
- 4:10 pm – decide to hold off on the cottage cheese until 4:30 pm. I’ve got to be at work until 6, after all.
- 4:30 pm – begin to eat cottage cheese, veeeeeery slowly
- 5:15 pm – finish cottage cheese (yes, really. I can make 100g of cottage cheese last 45 minutes)
- 6:30 pm – get home. Weigh and chop up veggies for dinner, so I know exactly how much food I can look forward to for dinner. Marvel over the amount.
- 7:00 pm – consider cooking dinner, after tummy rumbles. Have a cup of tea. Muse that if I can hold off on dinner I might not need the apple, and that would save me 50 calories!
- 7:15 pm – decide to cook at 7:30. After all, the later I cook the less time I have to try and resist food post-dinner
- 7:30 pm – cook dinner, eat straight away
- 7:45 pm – have second bowl of dinner (I told you there was a lot)
- 8 pm – decide I definitely don’t need the apple. Feel awesome about not eating the apple, and therefore being closer to 500 cal than 600 cal in my day.
So there you go. You can probably see from that run-down why it’s important that I hold off eating lunch as long as possible, because it’s definitely all down-hill after that point! And that’s ok, it’s not supposed to be easier, and it could definitely be a lot harder too.
It’s 4:17 pm currently, so you can see what my inner dialogue’s got planned for the rest of the evening- a lot of self-negotiation! I’m trying a new low-cal dinner tonight- if it works, I’ll put it up here. Actually, I’ll put up my stirfry recipe at some stage too. Hopefully someone will find it useful!