When it comes to weight loss programs, intermittent fasting has got to be the simplest plan I’ve ever tried.
What could be more straight forward than just don’t eat?
Most plans have a ton of rules, meal plans, special recipes, and food lists.
With intermittent fasting, you’re only worrying about timing. Fast for a certain period of time and then eat for a certain period of time.
Just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean that it’s always easy.
After all, we’re constantly inundated with reasons to eat. Food commercials, cooking shows, co-workers bringing in donuts, and that well meaning friend who worries that you’re skipping lunch.
Over time, intermittent fasting will become second nature. Until then, here are some tips to make it easier to stick to your intermittent fasting plan.
That’s how important I believe clean fasting is.
During my fasting hours, I only drink plain water, black coffee, or black tea.
I still love coffee with cream and tea with milk, but I enjoy it only during my eating window.
Some fasting experts believe that sugar free beverages, gum, and cream in your coffee is fine during the fast.
For me, including these items made me so hungry that I found it almost impossible to keep fasting. I ended up quitting many times before I finally figured it out.
Of course you are a grown up and can make your own decisions, but why not give clean fasting a try?
If you can make the fasting part of intermittent fasting that much easier, won’t it be worth giving up the gum chewing?
Salt and Water
I’m sure you’ve heard this mentioned many times before, but sometimes we can mistake thirst for hunger.
While with intermittent fasting there’s no need to force yourself to drink water like in some other diet plans, it is important to stay hydrated.
Simply put, make fasting even easier by drinking water.
There are so many cute water bottles available now, it’s never been easier to take your water with you!
The one thing I forgot to mention that is also allowed during a clean fast is salt.
Specifically sea salt or pink Himalayan salt, with all of the minerals.
I’m not completely sure about the science behind it, I believe it has something to do with electrolytes. However, I do know that it works.
There have been several times that I had a sudden hunger pang hit me and I thought sure that I was going to have to break my fast early.
Then I remembered this salt trick that I had read about.
I put some salt on my tongue and then took a drink of water. Within a few minutes, the hunger pangs had subsided.
It was like magic!
I always keep a bottle of pink Himalayan salt in my purse with me now.
Learn to Say No Thank You
This is probably the hardest one for me to implement.
I hate feeling like I may have offended someone.
In the beginning of my intermittent fasting journey, if someone offered me one of their special homemade cupcakes I would break my fast early because I would feel too guilty to say no.
Then I would feel guilty for not sticking to my goals. It was quite the cycle of guilt!
Once I realized that it was ok to say no thank you, things got a lot easier.
I don’t go into details about why I don’t want to go out to lunch or sample a piece of the delicious new chocolate they’ve just discovered. I simply say no thank you.
If they persist, I may add in an “I’ve just eaten and I’m so full, but I’ll take one for later.”
Most times however, people really don’t care that much. If you politely refuse, it’s usually a non-issue.
The worry about offending them is mostly my paranoia, not based on reality.
I don’t mean meal plan in the same way that most “diets” do.
I’m not talking about preparing containers of chicken and broccoli to have in the refrigerator for the entire week. Although if you enjoy that sort of thing, go ahead.
What I mean by meal plan is simply just deciding on what delicious meals you want to eat for whichever intermittent fasting schedule you’re following.
If you have really yummy meals planned, it gives you something to look forward to and makes delaying eating that much easier.
For example, it’s much easier to avoid going to the local fast food joint for a cheap burger at lunch when you know you have a delicious meal of pulled pork sandwiches to enjoy later.
If you don’t have anything planned for your eating window, it’s much more difficult to resist temptation in the moment.
When you have no idea what you’re planning to eat later, it makes whatever it is that looks good right now all the more tempting.
On the other hand, when you’re looking forward to something delicious for your meal later, it makes the waiting worth it.
Avoid Food During Fasting Times
Of course this isn’t always going to be possible or realistic.
I don’t mean you have to run in the opposite direction if a co-worker is passing around donuts.
However, when possible don’t make things harder on yourself by being surrounded by food.
Many money saving gurus will tell you to avoid grocery shopping when you haven’t eaten to save money, and this also applies to intermittent fasting.
If you’re struggling with fasting at the same moment you’re surrounded by food it’s going to be much easier to give in and eat.
This also may mean skipping the cafeteria at lunch time and going for a walk or meeting your friends for a chat in the park instead of the local café.
TV food commercials are a big source of temptation for me, so when I’m fasting I avoid watching anything with advertisements.
There will always be social situations with food that you have to or want to participate in. But if you can avoid the day to day food temptations as much as possible, fasting will be a lot easier.
By dieting, I don’t mean a specific way of eating. If you feel best eating low carb or vegetarian, that’s great!
Fasting will be much easier though if you don’t try and restrict yourself during your eating window.
You obviously don’t have to stuff yourself and try to eat as much as humanly possible, but you need to make sure you’re eating enough.
This may take some experimentation, especially if you’re used to restricting calories.
It’s normal to feel pangs of hunger while fasting, especially at first.
But if you spend your entire fasting hours starving and continuously counting down the hours until you get to eat, then you probably didn’t eat enough during your last window.
Eat until your body is actually satisfied, and making it through your fast will become so much easier over time.
Cut Back on Sugar
This doesn’t mean that you have to eat low carb or that you can’t ever have dessert.
I’ve noticed, however, that if my meal consists of mostly sweet things without the protein and fat and healthy carbs to balance it out, that I am much hungrier than usual the next day.
Over time, I’ve gradually begun to crave things like fruit for dessert over a big piece of cake.
When I do indulge in that piece of cake, I notice that it doesn’t keep me as satisfied, and fasting the next day isn’t as easy.
Your results may vary, but if you tend to eat a lot of sugar and you find fasting difficult, cutting back on the sugar may be the solution.
Emotional eating has always been a struggle for me.
While I can find other ways to deal with my angry or sad feelings, boredom is probably the most dangerous emotion when it comes to sticking with fasting.
Before I started intermittent fasting, I never realized how often I was reaching for the bag of chips or box of cookies when I had nothing else better to do.
Now when I find myself craving a snack during my fasting window, I make sure I find something to do to distract myself.
I read a book, go for a walk or chat with a friend. If I find something to keep myself busy, the fasting hours fly by and before I know it, it’s meal time!
This works so effectively that I’ve even forgotten that it was time to open my eating window.
If you had told me before intermittent fasting that I would forget to eat, I wouldn’t have believed it!
Choose the Right Schedule
My best tip for making intermittent fasting easy will always be to make sure that you choose the intermittent fasting plan that fits into your life.
There will be days that something will come up to make it more difficult to fast, but if every day is like that then you need to reevaluate your plan.
Let’s say you decide on a morning eating window because you read a study that said it was the best time to eat.
Every evening you get home from work and your family is sitting down to a big meal. The food smells delicious and you don’t want to miss out on family time.
While you may be able to resist for a while, it’s probably not going to work out long term.
Look at all areas of your life and choose the intermittent fasting plan that is going to be easiest for you to implement.
It will never be perfect because food has become so centric to our everyday lives.
But don’t make intermittent fasting harder than it has to be.
Intermittent fasting really is simple.
You are either fasting or feasting, and you get to pick the time to fast and the time to eat that works best for you and your lifestyle.
It won’t always be easy, but if you can implement some of the above strategies, it will be easier than most of the weight loss plans out there.
Do you have any tips or strategies that have made fasting easier for you? Let me know in the comments!