How I Eat
Food. I blood love it! Which most people find hard to believe when they learn that I fast every day for a minimum of 16 hours.
I’ve been practising daily fasting for almost 3 years now (how time flies!) and I can’t imagine going back to conventional eating. Whilst some people think fasting is simply skipping breakfast, or thanks to that stupid 5:2 diet made popular by theBBC documentary, it’s often thought of as just eating low calories twice a week and then eating whatever you want the rest of the time.
This is not what I do. My fasting window tends to run from 10pm to around 3pm the next day. During this period, I do not consume any food or calorie containing beverages. During my feeding window, which tends to be 6-7 hours, I will consume 3 meals still consisting of the same amount of calories I would have eaten had I spread my eating over the course of the entire day.
Though I originally started to fast to see if it had any effect on my fat loss, I choose to continue to do so for many reasons. Th biggest, and most important reason, is because it helped me to conquer my food obsession. Those that have followed me over the years know how I used to plan my food with military precision. If the clock told me it was time to eat, I ate, whether I was hungry or not. This often led to me eating when I wasn’t hungry or sitting down counting the minutes until it was “meal time”. Life was pretty awful and I was binge eating on a regular basis. I never want to go back to feeling that way about food.
Since I started daily fasting, I’ve not binged once. That means not a single binge episode in nearly three years. This is a huge achievement for me and the longest I’ve ever gone in my adult life without binging. To say I feel proud of myself is a vast understatement.
Other reasons I continue to fast are because of increased energy during my fast, better concentration, focus and clarity, regulated hunger patterns, giving my body a break from constantly digesting food and better satiety following meals.
If you’re greedy like me, then fasting is a great way to “diet” as it means you get to eat bigger, more satisfying meals during your feeding window.
It also means I can go out for the day without having to worry about taking food or finding somewhere suitable to eat as I can just eat when I get home.
So once my feeding window is open, what do I eat?
Some of you have been following me for years, so will know that back in March 2011 I commenced a “paleo challenge” which I intended to run for 4 weeks and continued to follow indefinitely. Though I don’t class myself as paleo, primal or anything else these days, I am still very particular about what I eat.
One thing I did notice about cutting out gluten is that I am massively intolerant to it. I have severe reactions when I consume it, even in tiny quantities. Acute reactions are migraine, nausea and Upper GI discomfort. Within a couple of days of consuming it, other reactions are mouth ulcers, dermatitis herpetiformis, low mood, lower GI cramping, diarrhoea, chronic fatigue, joint pain, mood swings and a general feeling of malaise.
Over the course of the past two years, I have added it back in periodically and every single time the symptoms flare back up. Last year, I was gluten free from January through til the end of July. Stupidly, I indulged over the course of a weekend in gluten containing foods and it took me 4 weeks until I was feeling well again. I’ve made a lifelong promise to myself now to avoid willingly consuming any gluten as it’s just not worth the distressing side effects.
On the positive side, eliminating gluten also eliminates a lot of food that is very easy for me to over consume – biscuits, cakes, bread, pastries, pizza, etc. It also means the majority of processed foods are banned as gluten is absolutely everywhere! Check the back of any food label on a tin, jar or packet and there is a strong chance gluten is in there somewhere.
Thankfully for me, it doesn’t pose a problem as I’ve been cooking my own food from scratch for years and convenience/processed foods were something I didn’t consume even before I switched to a gluten free diet.
This also means that apart from an occasional treat, I rarely buy “gluten free” products as I prefer to make my own.
So what does this leave me to eat? LOTS!
Since the spread of GMO seems to be making its way over into the UK, with UK supermarkets now using suppliers that allow their animals to be fed with GM feed, we try and buy exclusively organic where possible. I’m not going into the whys and wherefores of GMOs, but I think it’s a big deal that we all need to be educated about, so that we can make an informed choice. My choice is not to consume anything that has been genetically modified and purchasing organic produce is the easiest way to ensure this at the moment.
With that in mind, here is a list of my foods. If I can buy an organic variety, regardless of the cost, then I will do so.
Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, bacon, gluten free sausages, whey protein, eggs, gluten free black pudding
White potatoes, white rice, sweet potatoes
Full fat Greek yoghurt, unhomogenised milk, double cream, butter, cheese
Coconut oil, goose fat, beef dripping, walnuts, brazil nuts
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries (berries only when in season), oranges, apples, grapes, pineapple, coconut, tomatoes
Broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts, carrots, cabbage, onions, mushrooms, lettuce, cucumber, peppers
Green tea, white tea, Earl Grey, roobios, coffee, water
Obviously this list is not exhaustive and I still enjoy a glass of red wine, or a few squares of salted dark chocolate every now and then. Or occasional gluten free baked goods made by yours truly.
But the above list is comprised of foods I eat on a daily basis and are foods I would consider staples.
I still eat a predominantly high fat diet as I feel best when I eat this way. I used to be very low carb but have increased them steadily in the past twelve months or so with positive effects. If I had to give specifics about my macronutrient split it tends to be around 50% fat, 25-30% protein and 20-25% carbs. Though I might eat less fat and more starch on training days, over the week, it balances out to the numbers above.
If you have any diet related questions, please feel free to leave me a comment and I will try my best to answer :)