Fasting – good or bad?
What about fasting?
In an earlier 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.
In fairness the typical expressed concern about fasting has to do do with long periods of time without food. Like maybe eating only one or two meals per day, or no meals all day or two days or even a week. I am not taking a position on what you should do but I can say this with confidence. If an adult (not active growing children) can’t go two hours without putting something in their mouth, there is likely something wrong with their diet.
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 vitamins/minerals (which are available both in meat and plant food). Whether that food arrives in one, two, or three meals doesn’t much matter. What matters is that the important elements are consumed in natural, whole food form. Eating in this way minimizes hunger significantly.
What about diabetics?
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/refined 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 every two hours. Realize this, processed/refined 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 nutritional contribution.
What matters most – timing or content?
So advice to diabetics and all the rest of us. Get enough protein in your diet. Meat products are the most bio-available and have the most 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 will also be cutting calories as a by product. 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. Pat is a resident of Montgomery County, AR, president of Ouachita Village, Inc. board of directors (Montgomery County Food Pantry), and president of the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors. Her email address is email@example.com; phone number is 870-490-1836; visit her website at allaboutthefood.org