I’ve always rejected the idea of dieting, almost on principle: they’re faddy, pander to idealised body images, they’re substitutes for fulfilment, and – most damaging I guess – they simply don’t work.
Over the past few months, however, I’ve changed my mind as I’ve been following one diet in particular – the Fast Diet. This diet has no difficult rules to follow* and doesn’t involve constant deprivation; it just involves eating up to about 20% less.
For those who are not familiar with the principles, the idea is to ‘fast’ for two days a week and eat what you like the other five days. It’s not a complete fast on those two days – men can eat 600 calories and women 500 – but the idea is to go as long as possible without food.
The main motivation for me was not so much weight loss – I was reasonably happy being a bit porky. However, there is a widely-held view that the slightly chubby demeanour that passes these days as normal for western societies leads to a whole host of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. The principle of the fast diet is that, instead of your body constantly processing food, it’s beneficial to have some downtime where it can perform essential maintenance to repair cells, deal with toxins and so on.
However (and why I’m blogging about this here!), I would also suggest that this diet is very much in tune with the principles of Transition. Eating around one-fifth less is good for society as well as individuals: 20% less energy/carbon is needed to grow, cook and transport our food and, in principle at least, there is more room for wildlife if the diet’s adopted by a large enough number of people. If the diet really has the claimed health benefits then it would also mean less strain on our health services.
I’ve also found the diet to be personally transformative beyond (I feel I have to admit!) rather liking the new slim-line me. I’m saving money, I feel more vital – all that food was making me sluggish – and my life is newly-liberated knowing that if I don’t eat at a set time, I’ll won’t just expire on the spot. For me, fasting also allows a better connection with my spiritual needs (there has to be a reason most religions recommend fasting in some shape or form).
Perhaps the killer point is that fasting opens up much more time. For two days a week, I get up later, have a shorter midday break and I don’t need to cook in the evening…or do the washing-up. Just think how much transitioning we could achieve with all this time to do other stuff.
* Although most people take a while to work out a routine that works for them; for me, I skip breakfast, have a very late lunch of a boiled egg and banana and a small bowl of cereal in the evening