Fasting – good or bad?
In my last post we discussed some confusion about a “keto” diet and whether it should be considered dangerous. Well, what about “fasting?” Should people be doing that or not?
Apparently some have been told that diabetics shouldn’t “fast.” Fasting is not this odd thing that people never do. For one thing, the minute you go to sleep at night and stop eating, you are “fasting.” Anyone who has ever had a standard blood test was instructed to fast over night.
And any period of time during the day which allows your stomach to be be empty automatically shifts you into a fasting state, until you eat again. And since all the above happens with diabetics, apparently fasting can’t possibly be all that bad.
The bottom line is this. The amount of food being eaten during a day is supposed to provide protein (ideally meat/eggs), good fat (usually associated with the meat/eggs, not bottled vegetable oils), and plant foods (associated with vitamins and mineral, etc). Whether that food arrives in one, two, or three meals doesn’t matter. What matters is that the three macronutrients are there in natural, whole food form. Eating in this way minimizes hunger significantly.
So what about diabetics? What makes diabetics different is that they frequently struggle with keeping their blood sugar under control, usually associated with lots of commercially processed foods made from grain (starch), sugar, and vegetable oils. A diet full of processed foods ultimately results in several things.
For one, hunger will abound so the desire to eat again will be great. Think snacks. Realize this, that food digests and empties the stomach almost immediately. Empty stomach, hungry. That doesn’t mean you need the food, you just want the food. The more you eat the more calories you will consume, the higher blood sugar will go, and, for most, the more body fat will build. And finally and inevitably that processed food will be vitamin/mineral deficient so you ate a bunch of stuff that didn’t make much of a contribution nutritionally
So advice to diabetics (and all the rest of us). Get enough protein in your diet. Meat products have the most bio-available and complete protein. Eggs are particularly cost effective. Protein takes the longest to digest, hanging around the longest and warding off hunger. Thus less food is needed to achieve satisfaction. Augment the protein with non-starchy vegetables. Eat only when you are hungry. We can clear up a lot of trouble if we follow those simple rules.
In fact, from experience I can tell you that two meals with adequate protein and vegetables will abolish hunger, be all you need or want, and simply cut calories. By the way, you can be fasting anytime you aren’t eating. This is called intermittent fasting and it’s just fine for diabetics or anyone else.
Pat Smith is the author of “It’s All about the Food,” a book that guides nutritious food choices as the way to avoid illness and maintain a healthy weight. Proceeds from her book benefit the Montgomery County Food Pantry. She is a resident of Montgomery County, AR, president of Ouachita Village, Inc. board of directors (Montgomery County Food Pantry), and member of the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors.