Intermittent Fasting: Oh, No! Another Risky Fad

Pixie by HaleyDavisIntermittent Fasting is the topic of a CBC news article and asked for comments. Here goes. 

What do I think of intermittent fasting? Fun, fast, fantasy - like our pixie in the painting. It's not for real human beings, like you and me. Here's why. 

On and off fasting is part of bulimic behavior, a "trick" people suffering from bulimia try to use to help them stop throwing up while not gaining weight.

Intermittent fasting normalizes bulimic behavior. Those in recovery who are fragile will move into the behavior without realizing they are losing ground in their recovery and perhaps have a full blown relapse. Others, unknowingly vulnerable to this often lethal illness, will begin intermittent fasting and work themselves into full blown bulimia. 

The Intermittent Fasting diet sings the praises of this on off eating behavior. I can't help but compare it to the pro anorexia sites that teach people how to be anorexic. Intermittent fasting directions teach people how to be bulimic. The directions support risky behavior by describing the benefits i.e. weight loss.

Intermittent fasting is designed to allow people "to eat the foods they crave most of the time and still lose weight." This is a happy fantasy promise. It ignores what I consider to be the real issue: the craving.  

Why do you crave something that is not good for you? What purpose does the desired food serve? What is it doing for you that is more important to you than the damage it causes?

The way to lose weight is to exercise reasonably and eat reasonably both in quality and portions. When feelings of resistance to this come up, often experienced as cravings for what is not in your best interest, it's time to do inner psychological work to cope with those feelings. It's not time to look for tricks.

Much money is to be made in books, programs and products that promise weight loss and dreams coming true. The most profitable course for everyone in every way is to go for health. Health really allows you to make your dreams come true.

Have you every used intermittent fasting before it had a name as part of your eating disorder?
What was it like for you?


0 # CommonPTC 2013-03-28 13:38
Don't you think that most people do that, even if it's not that extreme?  Think about it, I know a lot of people who will go out and have a big meal or something and say, "I'll just make up for it tomorro."  Or if people know they're going to eat "a lot" later, they fast for a few days before?  (Not that that's helpful).  I do it too, but not to the extent that you're talking about here.  I guess it might be kind of different though, since I have an ED anyway and I tend to not eat enough as it is.
-1 # Wishful thinkingshh 2013-03-28 16:43

There is a part of me that wants to respond to this with "if only I had the willpower", even though I know that's not a good response.

I used to be able to survive on very little food for months on end, but I couldn't fast, and even on little food I couldn't eat the big meal or that sugar or fat loaded splurge, as it was just too triggering for me and I'd be bingeing regularly as a normal way of life again in no time. I wished I could fast or eat very little in a compensatory way that would just even out to a small weight loss, but I could never do it.

I suppose maybe that's a blessing in disguise, even though it never felt that way.

Laura R
0 # No thanksLaura R 2013-03-28 22:58
Wow, reading the news article was very triggering for me. It appealed to my ED. I used to have low food days mixed in with normal food days before ED. I ate when I was hungry, had time and felt like it. It was fine until I got so stressed out that I never felt like eating and got mesmerized by the numbers on the scale. I still have some low eating days but they are not intentional.
+11 # Saved meGuest 2016-04-15 13:23
Intermittent fasting along with lowering my carb consumption, saved me completely. I'm able to eat a very healthy amount of calories each day, avoid binges and purges, and my keep my mental health where it should be. I realized a few years ago that I had been forcing myself to make bad (for me) advice work for me and this was why I was continuously failing with my health and wellness. Once I stopped trying to force myself to eat every morning or eat several tiny meals throughout the day (which left my calories for the day in the right zone but made me so hungry!), things changed for me.

I really believe that we develop disordered eating habits for different reasons and that what works for me may not work for others. I really believe that not eating food for a long portion of the day would be triggering for many, or cutting out a food group for one person could lead down a dangerous path. But for me, I feel free. I no longer spend most of my day thinking about dieting or weight loss or when I get to eat next. I don't OBSESS. I learned that probably because of the foods I was raised on, that I am addicted to sugar/carbohydrate highs and that by keeping my insulin levels lower through intermittent fasting and eating meats, veggies, and FATS rather than bread and pasta - I can finally be free.
+3 # Yes, it leads to relapseGuest 2016-09-25 09:03
I came here after googling "Intermittent fasting and bulimia."

I had about two months free happily free from bingeing and purging. Three days ago, fed up with the fat on my body - it's just 5 pounds - I began IF. It seemed amazing, and logical - I didn't eat anything until 2 or 3 in the afternoon, and then sensibly. I was trying to get under 1,000 calories per day. It worked - wow - food did not rule me for three days.

The writer of the article says "The way to lose weight is to exercise reasonably and eat reasonably both in quality and portions."

The key to the falseness of that statement is "reasonably." Bulimia is not reasonable. It is not reasonable to spend several hours by yourself jamming your body with food, then bending over a toilet bowl and forcing yourself to vomit. My "disease" - I will call it that for the sake of this response - wants me to be a skeleton. Anything above "skeletal" is "fat." It also wants me dead. But that's another story.

Author's good intentions aside - last night, at midnight, I had my first full-blown binge at midnight after three days of intermittent fasting.

Why did I do this?

I don't know. I was lonely. I haven't been touched by a human being in almost two months, since me and my girlfriend broke up. I was out at the bookstore last night and several nice-looking women smiled at me, I smiled back, but did not say "Hi" or make any attempt to chat. Too shy. Don't want a "hook up." Whatever, I didn't say anything, and went home alone, and what happened happened.

Aside from that, the food was ORGASMIC. It wasn't even "binge food." It just was lovely...and I wanted more lovely. More good feelings. More explosion of taste in my mouth.

I cannot eat late at night - I have a hiatus hernia and I will regurgitate in the night, and the food sometimes goes into my lungs and makes my night a hell of coughing in vain. I know this. I ate anyway. Small bits which became large bits. That's how it happens. You overeat by one chip, and you say "Well, I guess I am going to vomit. But if I'm going to that, might as well take the brakes off and fill 'er up."

So I had to get the food up, and I did, and I felt much, much better. I went to blissful sleep.

This morning I woke up and realized I had blown two months, but I am going to keep up the intermittent fasting - and not going to overeat at night, even health food.

Try, try again, thank you for listening.
-2 # Reply to Yes, it leads to relapsepinkjoanna 2016-09-25 09:52
Dear Guest,

Thank you for sharing your experience. I hope your story helps you and others.

Please read your comment again in about a week or more. You may have more insight into your binge with a little distance from the event.

I'm sorry you are in such pain. Being a slave to an eating disorder's commands is horrible.

I invite you to look deeper. Intermittent fasting sets up what your body considers famine conditions. You will feel a biological imperative to binge when you can.

Also, you associate your binge to sexual activity. This is not uncommon. An insightful book I read in the 80's referred to the oral/vagina equation.

If you take your concentration off your body and your food intake and move your attention to your needs for safety, love, and care you may find yourself on a lasting healing path.

Eating more or eating less won't get you there. Recovery work will. Are you working with a psychotherapist? I hope so. Good luck. I wish you well on your journey.

Joanna Poppink

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