For 3 Weeks, I Gave Up Intermittent Fasting For Intuitive Eating, and Here's Why I Hated It
A year after having my body fat percentage taken at the registered dietitian's office at my gym, I went back to see if healthy eating and CrossFit made a difference — I lost two percent body fat! I met with Kerry Detweiler, RD, LD, ATC, LAT, to discuss my goals, which were to continue to have energy for my workouts so I can get stronger, and to also continue feeling well digestion-wise. The last time I met with her, I talked about how eating sugar and grains makes me super bloated, and even causes abdominal pain.
Why I Follow Intermittent Fasting
I told Kerry how I've been continuing to do intermittent fasting (IF), usually 18:6 or 17:7 (eating between the hours 12:00/1:00 p.m. to 6:00/7:00 p.m.), with a "cheat day" on Saturdays — this is how I have eaten over the past two years. IF helps prevent the uncomfortable, painful, and embarrassing bloating I've experienced. Both my former habit of eating all day long (I work from home and it is so easy to graze nonstop), and my history with binge eating the last few years, were definitely contributing factors to the bloating. In the years I have been intermittent fasting, it has helped not only to regulate my hunger, but it also prevents me from craving the sugar, which I have previously pinpointed as messing with my stomach and digestion in general.
For background, I've had an issue with struggling to lose weight since gaining 40 pounds in college (in 2000). I was binging a lot in those days, eating tons of sugar, refined carbs, and barely eating any healthy foods — the only veggies I ate were french fries. When I started eating healthier, doing yoga, and running, I was able to lose the weight. But it took considerable effort, every single day, to maintain.
In 2015, after two pregnancies in 2010 and 2012, I was still trying to lose the baby weight in my belly, so I started doing CrossFit, thinking I'd be ripped in a few months. I found those intense workouts caused ravenous hunger, so I ended up gaining weight — and it wasn't just muscle!
Then, in February 2017, I started intermittent fasting (IF). It was life-changing! Within a few months of eating 16:8, with my eating window from noon until 8:00 p.m., I could see my body composition changing, and my torso getting leaner. IF also helped me sleep better, and doing fasted workout in the morning made me feel so light and energetic.
Why I Tried Intuitive Eating
Kerry isn't a huge fan of IF since, as she explained, "Intermittent fasting can be seen as a form of restriction." The interesting thing is, though, it actually helped me gain control over my unhealthy eating habits of overeating and binge-eating. She brought up intuitive eating, which I'm familiar with through the podcasts and books I've read about it. The goal, she said, should be to eat the foods you love, when you want to eat them, and to stop when you're full. She said that IF doesn't really support that if it's creating restrictions on when to eat.
I told her I've tried intuitive eating before, for about a week, but it ended up making me binge and feel bloated from eating all the foods I'm not used to. Kerry explained that "intuitive eating is a journey," and it can take several weeks or months to adjust.
Although I told her I was worried that intuitive eating would make me feel out of control without any clear boundaries, Kerry suggested I try it for a month, and those urges should start to go away once I got used to the freedom of eating what I wanted when I wanted, and I'd be able to listen to my body. So as soon as I walked out of her office, I committed to one month of giving up intermittent fasting for intuitive eating.