Inner Whispers

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Inner Whispers

Should I continue time-restricted eating?

Buddha’s Diet

A book came out recently called Buddha’s Diet.  It is very simple to read, and advocates what many are calling time-restricted eating.  The basic idea is to restrict the hours in the day that you eat.

While I’ve also heard it called the 16:8 Diet (sixteen hours fasting, eight hours eating, to echo the 5:2 Diet name), the book actually proposes 15 hours fasting.  And the science suggests that even 13 hours without eating will net you many of the anti-inflammatory and cancer-beating benefits it offers.

On the other hand, the science also says that the average weight loss using this simple system is just half a kilo (or one pound).  That’s not per week, that’s full stop!

What that means is that, unless you are seriously obese and literally eat every second you’re awake, or suffer from sleep eating (that does really happen as a subset of somnambulism), it’s probably not going to help you lose weight long term.  After all, the human body is capable of adapting to a lot, and if you still eat too much, especially junk food, you can easily eat the calories you need to maintain your weight in just eight hours a day.

Or you can even eat enough to put on weight, as I found to my chagrin over the last two months!

My Experience

I lost 1.5 kilos in the first couple of weeks.  Then, I started gaining it back, and more besides.  To be honest, I don’t think it’s the diet’s fault.  It isn’t really meant as a weight loss diet, after all, just as a health one.

Not that I think you can’t lose weight using this approach, I’m sure you can.  For one thing, it’s a way of shaking up your eating habits.  For another, I did find it challenged and changed ideas about what I could and couldn’t do without food (such as exercise and sleep), and got me more in touch with true hunger.

Two factors worked against me, though.

Firstly, there’s that bit which says, ‘I’m making a sacrifice, I deserve a reward!’  Scientific studies have shown that, even when this isn’t a conscious thought, most people behave this way.  If they do or eat something ‘virtuous’, they are more likely to eat a greater amount or something less healthy later.

Secondly, it has been a particularly stressful year so far for me.  There was the troubles getting temporary accommodation, exam and essay stress for my course, and the kids playing up.  The latter is an ongoing issue, especially with the toddler, who refuses to let Daddy take him to bed, and clings to me for at least 15 minutes every day when I drop him at nursery, sobbing or shouting if I try to leave before he’s ready.

I can understand that it’s a big upheaval for him.  My husband and I definitely feel it, too. And there are lots of little triggers and stresses.

I realised last night that my husband doesn’t play music at dinner time in the camping house, which he always does at home.  Here, he doesn’t have his music, and he hates the tinny sound of iPad speakers.  So, he listens to music through headphones when the boys are in bed, but the house is strangely silent.

The Reading

Anyhow, this is a very long preamble to explain why I decided to ask the cards what the pros and cons are of stopping time-restricted eating.  I drew from my beloved Radiant Rider Waite in a tin (U.S. Games, 2015).

Pros – Three of Swords and Five of Pentacles

Two rather harsh cards, but to be read in the best possible light as the biggest positives.

Stopping this way of eating would stop at least one of the thought patterns driving me crazy and making me unhappy.  It would be one less stressor encouraging me to think ‘poor me’.

Cons – The Star and Six of Pentacles

Now two positive cards to read in their darkest light!

If I stop this diet, it will feel like giving up, like failing.  That means losing hope.  And also losing the idea that I can do a ‘spiritual’ diet.

I will also lose the chance to do something good for my long-term health. Though gaining weight isn’t healthy, so right now it’s probably not doing me any favours, anyway *rolls eyes*

Deciding factor – Queen of Cups

Ack, my least favorite queen!

My first response is, if I can get my emotions under control then I can continue, otherwise all hope is lost.  Of course, that’s me channelling her drama queen aspect 😀

Perhaps more realistically, I need to find a way to go with the flow.  Maybe I can honour that the situation and my emotional response to it are difficult right now.  Maybe I can do time-restricted eating some days and not others.

To read journal prompts based on these cards, click here.



8 Responses to “Should I continue time-restricted eating?”

  • Bless you (and your clan); you’ve got an overload of stress.. I think that Queen would tell you to quit grading yourself as fail or pass, and simply realize that right now is not the best time to be rigid with yourself. The only diet program I’ve found that has worked in the past for me (allowing me to lose and keep off weight) is Weight Watchers. Does the UK have one there?

    • Hi Bev,

      Yes, we have Weight Watchers, though I’ve never been. I know several people who have, and mostly it doesn’t tempt me. The naming and shaming doesn’t appeal, and I like to eat lots of vegetables and lots of fresh food, whereas I believe they’ve gone quite strongly into own brand ready meals and such. Carla of Rowan Tarot went to them last year, and hated it. So, not really on my radar.

      I like what you say about the Queen of Cups not being rigid. That was my kindest takeaway, and I’ve had a couple of days where I didn’t restrict, and felt okay with that. Today, I’m still trying to decide what to do – I fancy breakfast! 😀

      • Wow, that doesn’t sound like the kind of WW groups we have here! Shaming would get you booted quickly! Perhaps you can just keep a log of what you eat and how you feel; being aware of both may be all you need right now.

  • My worry is that rules like this are uncomfortably akin to the rigid rituals of anorexia/bulimia. If we fast naturally at night for 12 or more hours, why would you need this ritual? No need from my perspective. It’s strange how humans want to box things into an imposed pattern.

    Eat when you are hungry, but eat nourishing things. Instead of oil and other fats use seeds and nuts, which do offer a boost to health in moderation. Real fruit, not juice, and that sort of thing. You need food for energy during stress, but real food. Micronutrients. Make sure you eat quality foods for energy and strength.

    • Normally, I’d see your point about the overnight thing. Problem is, because my toddler has been getting up so early, I can have breakfast an hour after we get up and it’s still under 8 hours since I finished eating dessert the night before. And of course, being tired ups my hunger.

      As for eating when I’m hungry, years of bulimia got me very out of touch with what that really feels like. That has actually been one of the best things about this diet, getting reconnected to what true hunger feels like. After 16 hours, I’m definitely really hungry. And in the morning, I’m sleeping instead of eating and pushing through… 🙂

  • Whatever you decide, be kind to yourself. That will go deeper than any plan can.. Hugs to you.

    • Yes, I can see how the Queen of Cups could be truly kind, though I rarely think of her that way. I am trying to be kind to myself, trying to feel my way into each day and what I really need. Thanks, Rose!

  • I have been pondering a version of the Paleo “diet” for a while now, and am just about ready to give it a go. I definitely each too much sugar, though generally speaking I eat healthy foods. I am not going to completely cut out carbs, but I will significantly reduce them while I try out new options. I am already a huge supporter of protein as a way to “eat smart” and stay full for longer periods of time. But I want to actually alter my global eating patterns, and stick to it, so I don’t want to go gung-ho into a totally different style. I am hoping that by not fully cutting out certain foods, it will be easier to transition. I agree with Rose that it’s important to be kind to yourself, especially given all of the uprootedness you are experiencing now! Wishing you well!


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