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!
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.
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.