Trends vs. you – What to follow, when to stop and why

Have you ever tried intermittent fasting? When I first read about it, it made sense. Put simply: you eat for part of the day, you take a break at night and intermittent fasting is making the distinction between eating and non-eating windows more clearer. More precise, if you will.

So, I tried it

I figured I had nothing to lose, and I was healthy enough to not worry about any adverse effects that might happen which could impact me in any way. I chose to skip breakfast because it made the most sense given that dinners are for family and no one could ever convince me to not be a part of that. It went like this: water, coffee (+work), (hike), then water/tea/coffee (+work) until 1pm or so when I would have my first meal. It seemed to work for a couple of weeks but then it didn’t. I had enough energy to so what I had to do all morning. Come 1pm and that first meal of the day, I felt like all that morning energy had been sucked out. I felt sluggish – the opposite of how you should feel after a meal that was well balanced and all.

I kept at it for a couple of weeks longer just so I can draw an appropriate conclusion, considering all variables (meal composition, sleep quality, stress, etc.). It wasn’t working great. Meanwhile, others had a completely different experience: they loved it, felt energized and so on. I was past the point of tweaking meals, having already gone through variables. Instead, I had an earlier meal and it’s been working great since.

But science says…

This is but one trend. And there is scientific evidence that it works for some people and it works to help balance blood sugar levels (in some cases!), it can reduce the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, help people manage body weight and improve metabolic health and so on. But it’s not a universal solution for health and well-being, and, also, the stage of life matters too. However, every body is different, down to the gut microbiota composition, which is wild to consider but how amazing, right?

What works for some will not work for others. I am not talking about dubious trends the internet is full of, but evidence-based protocols that work in certain circumstances for a certain segment of the population.

However, the individual response is/should be a big piece of the puzzle. In adopting a trend or following a protocol we may feel uncomfortable for a bit. For example, most people experience bloating when adding more legumes to their diet. This effect can be mitigated so that one could eventually eat these foods regularly without discomfort. However, when there is discomfort and a nagging feeling of ‘this is not working’ coming from …well, the gut, we ought to listen.

Make it yours

But if it’s a healthy trend or protocol, wouldn’t it make sense to grin and bear it and the body will eventually adapt, you may ask. Well, it depends. The goal is to have sustainable nutrition habits, something we can do long-term without thinking too much about it and without becoming resentful of.

Ultimately, food is nourishment, but it should also be joy and pleasure. Our bodies are wise that way, and we need to pay attention to them. But, we also need to consider the evidence-based nutrition recommendations out there, so we can make it work in the best possible way. We have to make it gut approved, gut bug approved, and human approved too!

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