Well I promised to let you know how I am getting on with my decision to lighten up by following the 5:2 diet. So here after my first week is my first bulletin from the front. I have lost a couple of pounds which I am pleased with. Of course it would be great to lose weight really quickly but it didn't come on quickly so losing it steadily and slowly is all right by me. I haven't found the fasting days, where I am restricting myself to 500 calories, too bad. I have done three now, spaced apart by two to three days, and I am beginning to see a pattern emerging as to how to do it.
The morning after the first fast day I had a powerful headache, very unusual for me, and I am pretty sure I was dehydrated. Since then I have made a big effort both to drink lots on fasting days and also to continue to take in a lot of liquid on the following day. That seems to have done the trick as I haven't had any problem at all following the two subsequent days. Fasting days themselves are fine. I start with a couple of hard boiled eggs which I find fill me up for the morning. That is not too much different from my normal breakfast. Lunch might be another egg or a light homemade soup and this keeps me going through to around five o' clock. This is about when it starts to get harder. I find I need to have a cup of bouillon and some celery or cherry tomatoes before I start to prepare the evening meal or I am just so hungry the urge is to pick at anything and everything takes over. Having a pause with the intention of taking in something to ward that off seems to work well. For the evening meal I have a piece of fish or lean chicken with tomatoes and peppers.
All is then well until about half past eight when the munchies strike! I need to keep myself busy until bedtime and to take in lots to drink in the way of sparkling water or fruit teas and to keep a few calories in reserve for celery sticks and tomatoes when I just need to have the sensation of eating! I don't feel in any way unwell. On the contrary I feel light and energetic, just with occasional bursts of hunger. I think we have forgotten (or I certainly had) what it is like to feel hungry in our overfed world in the West. I quite like the sense that I can feel a bit hungry and can get over it and carry on doing normal things and having a normal evening. I admit as well that it is a huge help to know that this is only for a day at a time. If I really fancy something I can always tell myself that I will be able to have it the next day. I sleep well and wake up the following morning feeling pretty good. It looked when I was researching this as though many people fell into one of the other of quite polarised camps: those who found fasting relatively easy for a twenty four period like this and felt well on it, and those who felt very unwell and gave up because they suffered from headaches and exhaustion and quite unmanageable hunger on fast days. I think now I have realised quite how much I need to drink I will be ok and might even fall into the first camp of people who find that fasting suits them well enough.
On non fast days I am eating round about 1500 calories. The Horizon programme on dieting which kicked off all this talked about eating normally on non fast days and not needing to calorie count. There was also talk of "eating healthily" and "not bingeing" but I was more persuaded by the idea that even on non fast days you needed to be sure you were not taking in more calories than you could sensibly use up. 1500 doesn't feel like much restriction, in fact if I don't eat as much butter and cheese and drink as much wine as my normal diet contains I can do 1500 calories without altering the way I cook or the food that we normally eat. I don't feel I am on a diet at all on those days and I know that if I really want something like a cheese scone or a bar of chocolate I can have it. Somehow that sense that nothing is actually off limits seems to have protected me from eating way too much on non fast days. I have cut down on bread, which I love, mainly because I love bread and butter and if I am not eating much butter there is not much temptation to eat much bread!
And the important waist measurement? The thing that really made me think I was ignoring my health and my genes? Well that has come down by half an inch so that is good too.
I think I will stick to this for a month or so and take stock again then. I have a friend who lost a bit of weight on this diet a year or so ago and who tells me she continues to have fast day a week and hasn't put any of that back on again. It feels, she says, more like a way of life now. So we will see how we go. So far, so good!