How would you feel if someone told you to stop eating all the time? I imagine your answer would not be printable in a family magazine. But what if they are right? Whether you want to hear it or not, research shows that one of our biggest health problems is never stopping to eat.
Not long ago we were advised that it was healthier to “graze” to avoid spikes and valleys in blood sugar. Now everyone is talking about “intermittent fasting” or “time-restricted eating” (eating dinner early and breakfast late, with a 12- to 16-hour “fast” in between).
New Scientist recently touted a “longevity diet” that recommends fasting, and every health guru from the measured (Dr. Rangan Chatterjee) to the woo-woo (Gwyneth Paltrow) is doing it. So what has changed? It all comes down to awareness of insulin levels, which brings us to the science part…
“Constantly elevated insulin levels interfere with leptin, the hormone that provides a feedback mechanism to tell your brain you’re full,” explains Dr. Andrew Jenkinson, bariatric surgeon and author of Why We Eat (Too Much). “It’s like the fuel gauge on your car.
“You panic when you see empty flashing. But the problem isn’t that the tank is empty, it’s that the gauge is broken. The Western culture of snacking on sugar, highly refined carbohydrates, and processed foods means insulin levels never dip.’
How would you feel if someone told you to stop eating all the time? I imagine your answer would not be printable in a family magazine. But what if they are right? Whether you want to hear it or not, research shows that one of our biggest health problems is that we never stop eating (stock image)
All this jargon around hormones and blood sugar levels can be overwhelming, so allow me to introduce the simplest nutrition concept ever: the SEAT plan (stop eating all the time). You don’t have to count calories or buy “diet” versions of foods.
Now when I walk past the fridge and reach for the cheese, I say to myself: Stop eating all the time. When I smell croissants in the bakery, I think: stop eating all the time. Try it. Your secret health weapon can be as simple as changing your mindset.
If that sounds like deprivation, that’s how I see it: food should be tasty and enjoyed to the fullest, preferably with other people. That means mealtimes for me. Snacks are often thrown back thoughtlessly, in a state of boredom or stress. Even though I’ve skipped the snacks, I still enjoy good food every day – and enjoy it even more because I’m hungry until dinnertime. It’s common sense, and it’s the only diet that’s easy to stick to — because it’s not a diet, it’s a mindset.
dr Jason Fung, author of The Obesity Code and The Complete Guide to Fasting, says this simplicity is why fasting works. “It’s easy to understand,” he explains. “Plus, it’s convenient, so you save time and simplify your life. And it’s flexible: you’re always in control of how and when you fast. You can fast more when you need to lose weight and less when you are on vacation.”
Experts for the smart way to “SEAT”
Fasting Guru Dr. Jason Fung
“Hunger doesn’t build up if you don’t eat. Instead, your body will use the calories it needs from your body fat and hunger will decrease. Stay busy to take your mind off the food.’
Nutritionist Karen Newby
“If you’re feeling shaky or faint, grab a high-protein snack like nuts. Eat fruit or dark chocolate for something sweet, but shortly after your main meal to avoid an insulin spike.
Bariatric Surgeon Dr. Andrew Jenkinson
“Sugar and refined carbohydrates get people high, so resisting them can feel like giving up alcohol. Realize that the desire will reach a crescendo and then pass. I call it Crave Surfing.
Gut Health Specialist Dr. Megan Rossi
“Make sure you’re hungry, not thirsty. Then find a distraction like going for a walk. If you’re really hungry, have a high-fiber snack like hummus with celery or carrot sticks.”
People often think that not eating will make them tired or slack at work, but in practice the opposite is true. “It increases energy and focus,” explains Dr. fun. “During the fast, your body releases norepinephrine, which gives you more energy and focus. That is why the hungry wolf is so dangerous.”
What about the hungry she-wolf? Anecdotally, women who haven’t eaten are more likely to report a feeling we all know: being “hungry.”
“Hangry” is a classic sign of low blood sugar,” says Karen Newby, nutritionist and author of The Natural Menopause Method. “The reason this gets worse by age 40 is because our metabolism changes as estrogen becomes unbalanced. The hunger hormone ghrelin also increases in middle age.”
Newby likens eating sugar or refined carbohydrates like cookies and chips to pouring gasoline on a fire. It will burn brightly but briefly – a sign of more cravings. “But protein and beneficial fats like oily fish and nuts are like putting charcoal on a fire,” she explains. “They keep our energy factories running so we don’t have to snack as much.”
Newby says fasting can be effective for women of all ages: “Intermittent fasting overnight for 12 to 14 hours and mini-fasting between main meals help us be more conscious of the food we eat. We also give our digestive system a break, just like we did 100 years ago. Snacking is a very modern invention, created by food companies with a market value in the billions.”
But not everyone sees fasting as a panacea. ‘Most evidence [of the benefits of fasting] comes from animal experiments and we are very different from mice,” says Dr. Megan Rossi, gut health expert and author of Eat More, Live Well. “I’ve recommended intermittent fasting to some patients because it can be effective for weight management, but that has more to do with the fact that when you reduce your eating window, you eat less.”
The most important thing, she says, is less when you eat and more about what you eat. “When people get too hungry, they tend to feast on ultra-processed foods. The focus should be on nutrient-dense foods and lots of fiber, which feed your gut bacteria and regulate the appetite hormones ghrelin and leptin.”
So the key to not ending up face-first in a cinnamon strudel after fasting is to make sure your meals are high in nutrients and fiber (vegetables in other words) and some protein (meat, fish, eggs, lentils, beans, tofu). . A 14-hour fast wouldn’t be of much use if your eating window was chips and ice cream. Once you get going, it’s easier than you might think to add seeds to your porridge, nut butters to your toast, or a scoop of frozen spinach to your pasta.
When you focus on getting all the nutrients you need, the sugary or ultra-processed foods will naturally crowd out. What I’ve cut out is the mid-morning pastry and the late-evening snack — and amazingly, I don’t miss them. Try it. I promise your life will get better if you stop eating all the time.
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