I’m one of those awful people who has never dieted. For 23ish years, I relied on good genes and that mysterious ‘fast metabolism’ to keep me in burgers, crisps and chocolate. And it worked… until my mid-twenties loomed. Suddenly Topshop size 10s felt snug and I had a distinct hint of the double chins.
I was generally fine with it, though – I love food so much, that portion of chips was worth the extra dress size. And so it went for a few years. Until The Wedding.
Weddings do strange things to people. When I first started planning I was determined I wouldn’t be The Bride Who Slimmed Into Her Wedding Dress. I was also determined I’d be totally chilled out throughout the whole process and would never utter the words ‘peach taffeta’, but things change. Luckily not the peach taffeta (definitely none of that, don’t worry Team Bridesmaid), but once my wedding dress was ordered I did feel the need to lose those extra pounds (and I have raised my voice more than once in the planning process. Chilled, I ain’t).
A year ago I got back in the gym and started running again. Sadly I am hopelessly lazy so both these things fell by the wayside. I tried to eat healthily throughout the week but kept getting sidetracked by Nando’s and the pub and a trip to Barcelona. I bought a bike and happily have kept that up, but it was only after reading that losing weight is ‘70% diet, 30% exercise’ did I realise my eating habits needed to change if I wanted to see a real difference.
I actually prefer to call it the 5:2 Eating Plan because I’m a pretentious a-hole, but in reality it is about fasting. Two days a week you ‘fast’ – consuming no more than 500 calories. The other five days you eat as normal.
The first week was hellish, but I soon slipped into a routine. There are lots of different ways of splitting calories throughout your fast days, but I tend to save mine for dinner. I drink lots of water throughout the day and have a 100-cal snack around 3pm – Graze boxes are great for this. Then I have 400 calories to play with for my evening meal, which goes much further than you’d think. Above are some of my favourite dishes – Chicken Noodle Soup, Haloumi Salad, Mushroom and Bacon Risotto and Smoky Mexican Bean Soup. All under 400 calories and all coming up on the Anti-Recipe soon!
Now I find my fast days pretty easy. I feel hungry but it’s never unmanageable. I’m not weak or dizzy or lacking concentration – fasting days are just like normal days apart from the odd stomach rumble. After 7 weeks, my stomach has shrunk so I need less food in general and I feel brighter, more alert and less sluggish. Oh, and I’ve lost 10lbs. Take that, wedding dress.
I know fasting isn’t for everyone. I would never recommend this to anyone with health problems, who is pregnant or prone to disordered eating. It’s not a long-term thing for me – as cliché as it is, on my honeymoon I’ll be hitting the restaurants of Santorini with considerable force. But I hope this way of eating has taught me enough about food to keep up some semblance of the plan – now I pay more attention to what’s actually in the food I eat, I’m constantly surprised at how bad seemingly healthy options can be.
For anyone looking for a reasonably quick and easy way to lose a moderate amount of weight, do some research on fasting and draw your own conclusions. I found the following resources really helpful:
Kate Harrison’s 5:2 Diet Book – great for newbies with lots of information about how the plan works
The 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Facebook group – request to join to see the content, very supportive group
Lavender and Lovage food blog – lots of amazing under-500-cal recipes on here, and beautiful photography
Are you interested in the 5:2 Diet? Would you ever try it?
Disclaimer: I am in no way qualified to give nutritional advice. This is a summary of my personal experience with fasting. Any diet should be taken on with care and those at risk should always seek professional advice before starting a reduced calorie eating plan.