This Type of Intermittent Fasting Works For Everyone
I’m definitely not the type of dietitian to promote intermittent fasting as a form of restricting food, but did you know that another type of intermittent fasting can help you improve your relationship with your body?
Read on for my take on this other type of intermittent fasting…
Did this title make you do a double-take?
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, seeing me write about supporting Intermittent Fasting is probably confusing.
Don’t worry! I haven’t changed my philosophy around food and do not believe that intermittent fasting is healthy for women.
However, if you’re also working on improving your body image, this particular type of intermittent fasting will have significant benefits!
What is this intermittent fast? A media fast!
A Different Kind of Intermittent Fasting
Many of my clients struggle with negative body image. Sadly, in Western culture, it makes complete sense that most women are dissatisfied with their bodies. For my take on body respect, check out my article: Stop Hating Your Body: Principle 8 of Intuitive Eating.
And there’s one actionable way to help improve our body image that almost everyone can do:
A media intermittent fast.
I was first introduced to a media fast by the incredible book, More Than a Body by Lindsay and Lexie Kite, PhD. If you haven’t heard of this book, I highly recommend it. You can also follow them on their Instagram page, @beauty_redefined.
In More Than a Body, the authors discuss how women contend with objectification (both externally and by ourselves) and how that creates body dissatisfaction and ultimately holds us back from living a full life.
Many of the messages we internalize around what a ‘good’ or ‘healthy’ body should look like come from the media, ads, and social media. I’m going to use the term “media” to encompass all of these things.
What would it be like to intermittently fast from media?
It can be helpful to periodically step away from media, particularly media that has messages full of diet culture, wellness, and fitness.
Media, in the form of TV, advertisements, newspapers, and social media shows a narrow view of what an acceptable or healthy body looks like, and we as consumers immediately compare the bodies we see to our own.
Additionally, particularly with females in the media, there is an emphasis on what a body looks like vs what that person in that body can do. This is a stark contrast to the way most males are treated in the media.
We don’t often realize it, but the messages we get from the media affect our mood, our body image, and our ability to nourish our body properly.
A periodic or intermittent media fast
I don’t believe it is realistic or practical to remove all media from our lives indefinitely. However, stepping away from media for a week at a time can give us a new perspective through which we can re-engage.
The idea of intermittent fasting from media comes in because ideally you might consider doing this exercise 2-4 times per year.
A different strategy from daily media limits
Many of us place limits on our media (social media or otherwise) to help us limit the effects. Many smart phones allow us to limit our usage to certain hours or to set a daily limit in minutes.
This strategy can be very helpful. And, I believe that stepping away from all media for 5-14 days can be far more beneficial than using this daily reduced time approach.
Of course, like most things I suggest, there are no hard and fast rules. I would highly suggest that you aim for 7 days of this media diet, but if you can’t do this because of work, why not try 3 or 4 days instead?
During this period of media fasting, see if you notice anything different.
Below are some areas of your life to consider as you experiment with you intermittently fast from media:
- Your mood
- Life satisfaction
- Your relationship with your body
- Your relationship with food
Your goal: During your media fast, spend 5-10 minutes daily writing down what you notice while you’re avoiding media.
Take some time to reflect and journal before returning to media. Journaling can help you set new, future boundaries around your media usage.
Re-engaging with media after your intermittent fast
After a period of media abstinence, here are some guidelines for breaking your media fast:
- Review your notes to quantify what benefits you observed during your media fast.
- What improvements did you notice?
- Were you surprised by anything?
- Decide how you want to let media back into your life.
- Are there specific media outlets that you want to avoid?
- Are there new outlets or people on social media that you would like to explore?
- Do you want to utilize time limits or days off of media on a regular basis?
- How frequently will you engage in an intermittent media fast?
- Schedule your next intermittent fast on your calendar so you continue this habit.
I hope that you, like so many others, will see the benefits of this different take on intermittent fasting – a media fast.
Many of my clients notice that they are happier, more productive, and experience less body dissatisfaction when they periodically step away from media. In addition, this time away allows you to reflect on how you can best coexist with media, rather than having media rule your life.
Healing your relationship with your body can work much better when you are not restricting food (dieting or eating clean are restricting)! Did you know that a starved brain is an anxious brain? Why not try a different approach with food? In my article What is Intuitive Eating? you’ll learn how you can eat all foods and feel great too!
Kelly Abramson MS, RD is a dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor who works with clients in Alexandria, VA and virtually via telehealth. She guides women as they break free from dieting to find joy in food and their bodies. Kelly blogs regularly at NpowerYou.com and has created a free e-book for download, “7 Steps to Overcome Stress Eating.”