I have been experimenting with intermittent modified fasting. That is, every few days, I severely restrict the amount of solid food I take in and opt for fresh water and/or some nutritious beverage to stave off hunger pangs. In my case, the nutritious beverage has been straight buttermilk.
Sounds awful, doesn't it? Oh, but it's not...read on, if you please.
My goal was two-pronged when I started this bizzaro regimen. First off, the house had been filled with Halloween candy for too long, trick-or-treating night having been delayed by Hurricane Sandy. I had been dipping into the candy almost daily, and some days my "dip" was more like the mad grab of a glutton. I felt a little gross, and I was sure the dryer was set too hot, since all of my jeans seemed to be a little bit tighter. Secondly, I recognized that I was suffering from the shamefully privileged phenomenon known as "palate fatigue." This phenomenon is basically burnout for cooks: surrounded by good food daily, I was losing my ability to appreciate it or sense the subtle nuances of flavor. I could go to one of those restaurants that boasted dishes costing about as much as a day's wages and think, "meh." At first, I thought it was my competitive streak playing sour grapes, but I soon realized that no...I just wasn't getting the same flavor appreciation anymore. That made me feel as gross as the tight jeans.
Maybe I needed a real break from food to re-develop some respect ("get thee behind me, Halloween fun-sizers!") and appreciation for it.
So I bought a half-gallon of buttermilk and laid off the good stuff for a day. And let me tell you, it was holy hell the first day. I had to drink of my sour elixir every two hours to keep from going crazy from my grumbling tum-tum. But I made it through the day. The next day, as predicted---the fresh fruit I chose for breakfast tasted like it had been picked by the hand of God. The palate fatigue was already on the way to being banished for good. And I felt clean on the inside...not overstuffed with a mountain of cheap treats. Finally, my energy level was tip-top.
Before you fill the comment section up with lectures on nutrition, basal metabolic set points, and yo-yo diets, I'd like to ask you to read on. Believe it or not, I happen to have studied nutrition more than the average person off of the street and I understand how and when an unusual idea can morph into a horrible one.
This particular idea, is not horrible. Intermittent fasting is just that...intermittent. It is completely different than self-starvation. And the irregular intervals and return to a normal caloric level in the meantime prevents your body from forcing itself into a starkly low new set point for energy needs. You've heard of that---a dieter works at it for too long and when they return to real-life eating they gain it all back in four days because they have trained their metabolism to only accept a very low calorie level. With intermittent fasting, you roll yourself back up to a more normal intake.
And the idea is also not horrible considering the culture in which we live. While we grouse about the economy, we Americans have it so good. ONLY here can we say such obnoxious things like, "Life is too short to drink cheap wine," or "I only drink 'brand x' coffee...I cannot stand that grocery store garbage." We also put ourselves on expensive health regimens. We need that 300.00 blender to properly make a smoothie. We need to shop at the expensive place for our special ingredients. We need to buy this absurdly priced chemically-manufactured protein substitute since we've gone hardcore vegan. I cannot disagree passionately enough. All we need is some simple, natural ingredients, readily available almost anywhere in our land of prosperity... and a desire to thrive.
In that way, intermittent fasting can make a gentle correction to our attitudes of crass consumerism. Mystics of every religion will wax philosophical about the spiritual benefits of fasting, and I usually glaze over at such testimonies, but fasting does distribute a healthy dose of humility. You wake up on a non-fasting day and you think, "Gosh. I only need what I need and it turns out I don't need as much as I thought I did." It opens up huge opportunities for both conserving and sharing the resources we are lucky enough to enjoy.
Still think I'm wacko for this new regimen? Then check out these links:
Finally, everything else notwithstanding, the dryer has stopped shrinking my jeans and the scale is down 6 points.
Bon Appetit (or not!)