The other day, someone told me she started intermittent fasting. I’m into words and how they are used in successful (and sometimes unsuccessful) conversations. I asked her what she meant, because like other eating styles, I’ve found that nearly every answer I get to eating style questions is different.
The funny thing is, when you look at a general definition of this (thanks, Wikipedia), and then you look at what a “meal” or “snack” is, they are kind of the same thing.
“Intermittent fasting, also known as intermittent energy restriction, is an umbrella term for various meal timing schedules that cycle between voluntary fasting (or reduced calories intake) and non-fasting over a given period.”
“A meal is an eating occasion that takes place at a certain time and includes prepared food. The names used for specific meals in English vary, depending on the speaker’s culture, the time of day, or the size of the meal.”
“A snack is a small service of food and generally eaten between meals.”
Graze: “To eat a lot of food without actually having a proper meal, usually in the context of picking at food that is readily available at a buffet.”
We used to have structured meals and snacks. Then we went to eating all day. Now we are back to structured meals and snacks, or choosing what to eat (and when) throughout the day.
Our ancestors often had to deal with the question of if there would be enough food to eat and to get through the winter. You know, before there was refrigeration or grocery stores (we didn’t have them until 1916). It’s easy to forget that there was a time when these things weren’t a thing.
Now, we can have food delivered to us basically anywhere we are at any time we like.
It kind of makes sense that we need a system to manage this.
Enter “intermittent fasting”. If this helps organize your day of eating and it’s how you help PLAN your intake, then I think that is super helpful.
If you think in terms of meals, snacks, grazing, or other words that get you to your goals, then I think that is super helpful.
The point is, food and nutrition is a very personal conversation. We know our family histories in most cases, we know our taste bud likes and dislikes, and we know if we feel good or don’t with how we are managing ourselves currently. If we eat a certain way, get enough sleep, and stay active, we probably feel loads better. I know I do.
You are the boss of you. If we were talking individually, and you had a diagnosis and/or a goal to meet, we’d make a plan. So here we go (obviously you need to follow your doctor/dietitian/healthcare team’s recommendations if you have them):
In general, a heart smart plan (like DASH or the Mediterranean Style Eating Plan) is a good foundation for everyone (we all have a heart and around the world, heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women alike – so let’s take care of them!).
Words are powerful. Choose them to inspire you and help you make choices that make you happy, feel good, and support your health.
Don’t wait until January 1 to take care of yourself. Organizing how you approach eating and food choices can start now. You are still you at a party or buffet. You are still human regardless of where you encounter food or choose food.
Be proud of your choices. Enjoy your food. We are lucky to have a safe, affordable, abundant food supply. Our word choice is really about acknowledging the need to manage our choices and make informed and intentional decisions vs not just letting them happen to us.
What do you call your style of eating?