Well, I have taken the plunge to try the 5:2 diet. My main drive was the “middle age spread” that comes from a desk job and too much grazing on the endless supply of food that is around. Having piled on the pounds the idea of not eating all day filled me with horror and proved a great excuse to delay for many weeks. However after recommendations such as “it’s a lazy man’s diet”, “it’s really OK and I look forward to fasting days” I thought that maybe I could survive for one day. After all, it’s not about not eating, it’s about cutting down the calories to a mere 500.
I’ve asked lots of people about it and know lots who follow it, and I know that the longer the time you fast, the more your body can repair. This is the unproved bit. I also think it is something that can be tailor-made, not everyone eats only breakfast and supper, some split their 500 calories between three meals, some fast from 2pm for a day, some keep all their calories for one meal in the evening. So, I got the book (the one with some sample menus, at the back) and shopped in advance, got prepared and went for it.
I choose, like many people a Monday and a Thursday. I know I could not have two consecutive days together without food. I may have a sedentary desk job, but I do have a very busy life with two small children and a hard-working husband. I swim on a Wednesday so that was out, and I was not going to fast over the weekend.
My first breakfast was two eggs and some ham – a total of 256. It was only half way through the day that I realised I had not worked out which supper to have because I’d not chosen my meals looking at the total calories for the day. I am sure breakfast needs to be smaller in future. The day was, honestly, not fun… at all. I thought about food all day. Luckily I’m stubborn, so I stuck to it. I had a headache by lunchtime which did not go away. I was not enjoying any of the (forgive the terminology) “poofy teas”, as I very rudely call herbal etc teas. The might smell OK, but they tasted of nothing. I normally drink white coffee, so that was out. I missed my coffee. I filled up with fizzy water, can of diet coke and more water. I still had a headache. I left work, got the children into bed and settled down to a supper of roasted veg – it was delicious, and whilst it did not fill me up, it was better than nothing!
Unfortunately, I then had to bake cakes and cookies for Husband’s birthday the following day. I filled up the sink with soapy water and the minute the spoon or bowl came too close – I chucked them into the sink. I’ve never baked without “tasting” or “cleaning” spoons afterwards. Once done, I went to bed to avoid the temptation.
I had survived the first fast day, but it was a bit grim, and more so than I had expected. At least tomorrow I could eat.
Before this sounds totally despondent, there was a definite very good plus point – other than the 2lbs I’d lost – I knew that feeling hungry was OK. Feeling hungry did not mean I had to grab the nearest biscuit, bread, kid’s leftovers. I understood that I don’t need to give in to every opportunity of food, and there are many during the day. We went out for supper with family and I had a starter, a salad main and a pudding. I was full, but not uncomfortably full. I felt really chuffed. Previously I would have been very greedy – “oh well I don’t go out often, I can have whatever I want” and it was a reason to eat as much as possible, followed by feeling really full and then hungry the next day. On the fasting days, I have eaten much less, but really tasted what I was eating.
My second fast day was much easier. Black coffee with sweeteners meant a welcome return to coffee, which helped. I’m not addicted, but I do enjoy a cuppa or two during the day. I also knew that I could do it, I had a smaller breakfast, which meant a bigger supper, and I knew that the next day I could eat.
So, one week in, would I recommend it? Yes. I’ve lost 4lbs overall, although this weekend, and a brownie, some wine etc may not have helped, I know that tomorrow I can fast again. In fact this week, with a couple of social events, I may only be able to fast on one day, not two, but that’s OK. I know I can do it and I’m not going to be hard on myself if occasionally it is only for one day a week.
My advice if you’re unsure – give it a go. Be prepared, be honest about what times of the day might be hard, and have something nearby!