You might have heard of the Intermittent Fasting (aka: IF) as a new thing in food or weight loss conversations, or even in wellness or medical circles. It’s often disguised as a health benefit (to which I still scratch my head), but if you do a quick Google (click here), it’s about weight loss. Not a shocker.
The opening lines displayed on an “intermittent fasting” Google search from medicalnewstoday.com
Intermittent fasting is not a diet. It is a timed approach to eating. Unlike a dietary plan that restricts where calories come from, intermittent fasting does not specify what foods a person should eat or avoid. Intermittent fasting may have some health benefits, including weight loss, but is not suitable for everyone. Apr 3, 2019
The opening line says intermittent fasting “is not a diet,” but if you continue to read, it’s all about losing weight! I genuinely never cease to be stunned by these claims, and neither should you.
(If you’re wondering “what is wrong with losing weight?”, I will quickly answer: Our culture is obsessed with “losing weight”, which for the majority of people equates to a tail-chasing puzzle where weight/shape obsession buries a more authentic and intuitive approach to healthy embodiment — and that tends to mean a healthier, happier body image and mindful, fulfilling existence in one’s flesh, blood, mind, heart and spirit.)
As a therapist specializing in disordered eating, when I hear someone considering intermittent fasting for any reason, it’s a red light for me to dig deeper and get curious not only about restrictive food behaviors and history but also about what other deeper issues might be easier to avoid, omit or flee rather than to face and feel.
A request or push to look beyond the food or behaviors can sometimes be a tall, intimidating order for someone who assumes intermittent fasting comes from the wellness industry with health-based intentions. But, when we restrict our food intake and manipulate our body to the point that we ignore or shut down our own interoceptive (internal biological) signals, we also risk falling into a slippery slope of disordered eating and fail to recognize and work through the bigger emotional picture at play.
Even as “mindfulness” is as a popular a trend as “intermittent fasting,” it would be my wish for our culture to apply mindfulness, curiosity and compassion to ourselves when tempted to take an easy way out or a quick fix through dieting trends.
What’s Really Scary about Intermittent Fasting
What’s really scary about intermittent fasting is for those who have a history of restricting, binge/purge cycles, obsessive/compulsive behaviors, perfectionism, etc: Those who fall for the intermittent fasting trend are setting themselves up for a risky cycle of not only dangerous dieting behaviors but are also gambling with aggravating their nervous system responses. Once the brain senses a lack of safety, the body retreats either into shutdown or fight/flight, and without proper support, it can induce one’s mental health into further decline.
Diet Trends and Weight Loss Quick Fixes Boil Down to Coping Mechanisms, So Get Curious About It, and Have Compassion For Yourself
Diet trends boil down to coping mechanisms. Read that again - Diet trends, or dieting or an intense focus on weight/shape, boils down to being a coping mechanism. As Anita Johnston wrote in Eating in the Light of the Moon, food issues are red herrings to deeper issues that need your sweet attention and loads of support.
At first diet trends and quick fixes might seem sexy, appealing and productive to deal with an external (body/weight/shape) issue, but because we have to eat, and because we have to ultimately figure out a way to nourish ourselves literally and figuratively, the internal challenges that need support and compassion tend to get bypassed for an external hamster wheel race focused on food and exercise. Might as well pass around the grapefruits of the 80s again and call it what it is: a quick fix trend.
If you might be ready to find freedom from food, dieting, exercise or body image issues, I’d love to see if we are a good fit. Feel free call me for a 15-minute phone consultation. Contact me here.
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