How would you feel if someone told you to stop eating all the time? I imagine your answer might be something unprintable in a family magazine. But what if they score a point? Whether you want to hear it or not, research shows that one of our biggest health problems is that we never stop eating.
Not too long ago we were told that it was healthier to “graze” in order to avoid spikes and dips in blood sugar. Now everyone talks about “intermittent fasting” or “time-restricted eating” (eating dinner early and breakfast late, with a 12-16 hour “fast” in between).
New Scientist recently touted a “longevity diet” that recommends fasting and every health gurus from the measured (Dr Rangan Chatterjee) to the woo-woo (Gwyneth Paltrow) does. So what has changed? It all depends on awareness of insulin levels, which brings us to the science…
“Constantly high insulin levels interfere with leptin, the hormone that provides a feedback mechanism to tell your brain that you’re full,” says Dr. Andrew Jenkinson, bariatric surgeon and author of Why We Eat (Too Much ). “It’s like the fuel gauge in your car.
‘You freak out when you see it flashing empty. But the problem isn’t that the tank is empty, it’s that the gauge is broken. The Western culture of snacking on sugar, highly refined carbs, and processed foods means insulin levels never drop.
How would you feel if someone told you to stop eating all the time? I imagine your answer might be something unprintable in a family magazine. But what if they score a point? Whether you want to hear it or not, research shows that one of our biggest health problems is that we never stop eating (stock image)
This jargon around hormones and blood sugar can be overwhelming, so let me introduce you to the simplest food concept there is: the SEAT (stop eating all the time) plan. You don’t need to count calories or buy “diet” versions of foods.
Now, when I pass by the fridge and take the cheese, I say to myself: stop eating all the time. When I smell croissants at the bakery, I say to myself: stop eating all the time. Try it. Your secret health weapon can be as simple as changing the way you think.
If that sounds like deprivation, the way I see it is this: food should be delicious and enjoyed to the full, ideally with other people. For me, that means meal times. Snacks are often discarded without thinking, in a state of boredom or stress. So even though I’ve given up snacking, I continue to enjoy good food every day – and in fact, I enjoy it more because I’m hungry at dinnertime. It’s common sense, and it’s the only diet that’s easy to stick to, because it’s not a diet: it’s a mindset.
Dr. Jason Fung, author of The Obesity Code and The Complete Guide to Fasting, says this simplicity is at the heart of why fasting works. “It’s easy to understand,” he explains. ‘It’s also practical, so you save time and make your life easier. And it’s flexible: you always control how and when you fast. You can fast more if you need to lose weight, and less if you’re on vacation.
Experts on the smart way to ‘SEAT’
fasting guru Doctor Jason Fun
“Hunger doesn’t continue to build if you don’t eat. Instead, your body will use the calories it needs from your body fat and hunger will decrease. Keep busy so you don’t think about eating.
Nutritionist Karen Newby
“If you feel shaky or weak, have a high-protein snack like nuts. For something sweet, have fruit or dark chocolate, but take it soon after your main meal to avoid a spike in your stomach. ‘insulin.
Bariatric surgeon Dr. Andrew Jenkinson
“Sugar and refined carbs get people hyped, so resisting them can feel like giving up alcohol.” Realize that the urge will reach a crescendo and then pass. I call it craving surfing.
Gut Health Specialist Dr. Megan Rossi
‘Make sure it’s hunger you feel, not thirst. Then find a distraction like going for a walk. If you’re really hungry, eat a high-fiber snack like hummus with celery or carrot sticks.
People often think they will get tired or tired at work if they don’t eat but, in practice, the opposite is true. “It increases energy and focus,” says Dr. Fung. “While fasting, your body releases norepinephrine, which gives you more energy and focus. That’s why the hungry wolf is so dangerous.
And the hungry wolf? Anecdotally, women who haven’t eaten are more likely to report a feeling we all know: being “hungry.”
‘Hangry’ is a classic sign of low blood sugar,” says Karen Newby, nutritionist and author of The Natural Menopause Method. “The reason it gets worse over the age of 40 is that our metabolism starts to change as estrogen gets out of balance. The hunger hormone, ghrelin, also increases in our 40s.
Newby likens eating sugar or refined carbs, like cookies and chips, to pouring gasoline on a fire. It will burn brightly but briefly – signals more cravings. “But proteins and beneficial fats, such as oily fish and nuts, are like putting coal on the fire,” she explains. “They keep our energy factories running, so we don’t have to snack as much.”
Newby says fasting can be effective for women of all ages: “Intermittent fasting overnight for 12 to 14 hours and mini-fasts between main meals help us become more aware of the food we eat. We’re also giving our digestive system a break, like we did just 100 years ago. Snacking is a very modern invention, created by food companies with a market value of billions.
But not everyone sees fasting as a panacea. “Most of the evidence [of the benefits of fasting] comes from animal studies and we are very different from mice,” says Dr. Megan Rossi, gut health expert and author of Eat More, Live Well. “I’ve recommended intermittent fasting for some patients because it can be effective for weight management, but it has more to do with the fact that if you reduce your eating window, you eat less.”
The important thing, she says, is less when you eat and more what you eat. “If people are too hungry, they may tend to binge on ultra-processed foods. The focus should be on nutrient-rich, fiber-rich foods, which feed gut bacteria, regulating the appetite hormones ghrelin and leptin.
So the key to not landing headfirst in a whirlwind of cinnamon after your fast is to make sure your meals have plenty of nutrients and fiber (in other words: vegetables) and some protein (meat, fish , eggs, lentils, beans, tofu) . A 14-hour fast wouldn’t be very beneficial if your eating window consisted of chips and ice cream. Once you get the hang of it, it’s easier than you think to add seeds to your porridge, nut butter to your toast, or a ball of frozen spinach to your pasta.
Focusing on getting all the nutrients you need naturally tends to crowd out sugary or ultra-processed foods. What I’ve cut out is the mid-morning pastry and late-night snack – and, surprisingly, I don’t miss them. So try it. I promise your life will be better if you stop eating all the time.
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