A Lifestyle blog based in Sonoma County, in the heart of Wine Country. Amber is an outspoken voice for local activism, local wine tourism, and more.

Intermittent Fasting: Why and How I Do it

IMAGE CREDIT: Sosatography

Chances are you have heard about the "new" eating plan, Intermittent Fasting (IF). It's been hard to ignore as it is often spoken about all over social media: Influencers are filming YouTube reviews, it's on morning talk shows with celebrity dietitians and Hollywood stars are sharing their results, etc. I personally started my journey with IF in late February of this year. Continue reading below to learn more about Intermittent Fasting, it's benefits, and the why and how of why I started.

Disclaimer: This is an article about planned, and scheduled eating. If you struggle with having a healthy relationship with food, have a current or past history of disordered eating, or an existing medical condition, please strongly consider your health, and the affects reading this article may or could have. Please always consult a medical professional before making any major dietary change. If you are struggling with your relationship to food, or health in any way, I encourage you to seek assistance from a trusted individual. If you would prefer to seek help from someone you do not know, please visit this website.  

Intermittent Fasting isn't new
Various forms of Intermittent Fasting can be found all over the world, and throughout history books. Fasting exists in a wide variety of forms throughout religions and faith practices. While some religious forms call for fasting from certain foods only, or all food for a number of hours or days, fasting is nothing new. Fasting has also been used throughout history as a form of peaceful protest.

The benefits of IF
Last summer Harvard Medical School Harvard Health Publishing published an article on the surprising benefits of Intermittent Fasting. Their research found that the timing of the fasting and meals played a huge role in overall health benefits, naming the circadian rhythm fasting (reserving meal times for daylight hours) approach as the most beneficial and holistic.

Studies on Intermittent Fasting in both humans and rats have shown lowered blood pressure, weight loss, fat loss, and improved blood and cholesterol levels. The main key to reaping these benefits however is not just in the times that meals are consumed, but the quality of food that is eaten. By quality I'm not making reference to organic products - but mainly refraining from highly processed foods, soda, etc.

Why I started
The true, honest reason of why I began my journey with IF was for a sense of control. My life was abso-fucking-lutely insane with a ton of work and personal life drama, and by February I felt like I could no longer keep my head above water. I struggle with depression and anxiety, which was also complicating things. As a coping mechanism, I turned to what I felt like I could control in a healthy way: my daily eating habits.

Born and raised vegetarian, and I grew up with foods like tofu, nutritional yeast, Braags amino acids, and rice milk, and was taught that most meals and pantry staples (such as bread and crackers), should be prepared and made at home. Because of this, the leap to IF wasn’t a very big one; Intermittent Fasting places a strong emphasis on healthy, wholesome meals, while limiting highly processed foods. More honesty: I still have the occasional Taco Bell order and Flaming Hot Cheetos with Lime, because balance is important.

How I do it
I am on the 16:8 schedule which means I fast for 16 hours a day, and have an 8 hour window for meals. From 7pm to 11am I fast, and my eating window is from 11am-7pm (in the winter I change this to 10am-6pm for meal times). To break my fast I will have my NeoCell Beauty Infusion collagen-hyaluronic acid-biotin supplement drink, followed 30 minutes later with a spoonful of manuka honey. Manuka honey has an array of health benefits, so it just seems fitting!

In the mornings I will have black coffee, or green tea, and plenty of water. I try to meal-prep throughout the week, that way I won't be stuck trying to cook or prepare meals while hungry (also as a preemptive measure to make sure I'm not reaching for the easiest snack in the room!). A usual breakfast go-to is a crustless quiche (frittata??) packed with veggies, or protein pancakes. For my remaining meals I try to focus on high protein, high fiber foods. Sometimes things can get tricky, because I won't be hungry...when that happens I always make sure to to have a snack of something, such as cashews or pistachios around 4pm to tide me over until the next day.

In the evenings I will prepare a green veggie juice for me to sip on throughout the following day (while it is recommended to have the juice immediately after it is made, my IF schedule doesn't allow for that). For the last several months I have been using the BELLA High Power Juice Extractor, and I really like it! I use it multiple times per week, and haven't had any issues. It's easy to use and clean, and it is less bulky than the previous juicers I have owned. Right now my easiest, go to recipe for juice is: 2 heads of celery, two apples, and some ginger. Also, the price point is amazing: find and purchase it at Amazon.

How it's going
In the beginning I did the 16:8 schedule seven days a week, without a break. After the first six weeks I decided to adjust my fasting to five days a week, allowing the weekends to be unrestricted: my social life was starting to revolve around IF on the weekends, and I took that as a warning sign. I'm much happier with my meal schedule as it is now. If I slip up, or make weeknight dinner plans I don't let it stress me out too much.

Overall, I'd say it's working out well for me! I like Intermittent Fasting because it helps me focus: before IF I would reach for snacks when I wasn't really hungry. But knowing that I have a set window of time for meals gets me excited about food, and recipes. I have never done well with counting calories, or restrictive diets that label foods as "bad" or "off limits". (I realize that as a vegetarian that might sound counterintuitive, but vegetarianism is all I have ever known.) I personally have to be careful with diets or fasts of any kind - because of my history with disordered eating, I take extra precautionary measures (such as checking in with trusted individuals) to remain healthy.

So far, I would say that I have found Intermittent Fasting to be a very positive experience. I find that I feel as though I have a healthier relationship with food as well: I have been exploring new healthy recipes, have reduced my mindless snacking, and have drastically increased my water intake.

How to get started
If Intermittent Fasting is something that you're interested in, I would encourage you do to your research, and to speak to your healthcare professional before beginning. I use the Zero app (available both in iOS and Android) to help me stay on track. I like the app because it also provides information about various fasts (under the "Fasts" tab), and provides a library of informational articles, medical studies, and Q + A videos with Dr. Peter Attia (under the "Learn" tab), allowing me to make educated decisions throughout my IF journey - which I feel is incredibly important.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them below (if my comments are working...) or reach out to me via email (amber [at] amusedblog [dot] com) or, on Instagram.

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