Fasting is Great, Unless You have Food Issues

Fasting has recently gotten a lot of publicity, as more studies have been done on it. Some research has revealed that fasting is actually good for our bodies. (As someone who teaches global politics, I’m always struck by the idea that people would willingly fast, when so many people around the world would benefit from eating more.) Michael does a 16-hour fast at least once a week. It is very odd to me for a two reasons. One, I’d starve to death. I’m sure of it. I’d be grouchy, have a headache, and be queasy. Two, I’m pretty sure I’d be watching the clock, only to binge once the fast time ended.

It is for this second reason that I would never voluntarily fast. As someone with a history of food issues, the psychological effects of fasting would undo a lot of the groundwork I laid to have a healthier relationship with food. Just remember that the cost of being overweight or having an unhealthy diet is far worse than any positive effects that fasting could potentially provide.

My Food Issues
Before my lifestyle change, even as a kid, I rarely ate breakfast. In junior high and high school, my default was to go all day without eating until I got home at four or five in the afternoon. I’d be so starving hungry that I’d have to eat something, which always led to overeating. On top of that, my mom starting working full time when I was 12, and I took over making dinner, so I also ended up eating while I cooked.

Me necessarily eating in public while traveling in Ghana

Me necessarily eating in public while traveling in Ghana. It was worth it because the cassava was excellent!

I’ve never been a morning person, so eating breakfast before leaving the house was really unappealing, but not eating lunch was much more the result of being embarrassed to eat in front of other people. It’s kind of ironic because they knew I ate too much by how I looked, but I still shied away from eating in public. The high school had a salad bar, so in 10th grade I started out by eating lunch, but quickly found that even eating salad could lead to ridicule because I was taking comparatively larger salads than other people. It seemed easier just to not eat than eat enough to feel satisfied. Regularly accused of being a “fat slob” also meant that if I ever got food on myself, I was mortified.

Even though I finally achieved a healthy weigh, it’s still not uncommon for me to be conscious of what I’m eating around other people. That’s how ingrained this food issue was for me. For a long time, I was especially hyper-aware eating around Michael. We’ve now been married for more than 12 years, and I still sometimes find myself feeling very self-conscious about what or how much I eat around Michael. It’s taken years to work on this food issue.

Much to my delight, I’m really happy to say that I’ve made progress on this food issue. When I feel self-conscious, I remind myself of Michael’s sage words that most of the time, people aren’t even noticing what I’m doing, let alone judging me. So it’s important for me to remind myself that just because I had some bad experiences with people, I shouldn’t assume that’s how everyone feels.


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