It’s not every day you get to chat with a world expert on intermittent fasting, but that’s what happened on my Causes or Cures podcast.
If you read my author’s bio on Amazon or here on Blooming Wellness, you’ll learn that I am a fan of intermittent fasting. I fell into it randomly. It’s no secret that I struggled with bulimia for years: From the end of my senior year in high school, all through my years at West Point, all of my twenties and into my early thirties. I’m very open about my struggle and write about it in great detail in my book Manic Kingdom. One thing that always struck me about bulimia was its addictive nature. No matter how many times I wanted to quit the “binge and purge” cycle, my body was wired against me. My brain craved the endorphin rush that always happened after binging on high sugar/high fat foods and throwing them up. The only thing that genuinely helped me was mindful eating. I taught myself mindfulness-based stress reduction, which organically led me to apply mindfulness to each element of my life: exercise; relationships; analyzing data; writing and, of course, eating. The more I practiced mindful eating techniques, the more I learned about my emotional and physiological connection to food. I got better at figuring out when I was actually hungry and when I was eating food as a way to manage an uncomfortable emotion: fear, anxiety, or sadness. With time and practice, I learned healthier ways to manage those emotions. I learned to “sit with” the frustrating physiological side effects of being “addicted” to bulimia: the urge to binge; the growling, acidic stomach; the obsessive thoughts about running to the grocery store to buy binge food. At first, it was really tough and uncomfortable…there were times I wanted someone to tie me down in a chair so I wouldn’t storm out the door to the store. But then you get used to it. And once you sit through a few of the urges and manage them with mindfulness, it gets easier and easier and easier, till the urges no longer control you.
For me, intermittent fasting was a natural effect of mindful eating. Before I dove deep into mindful eating, I ate three meals a day. It’s what I did as a kid, a teen and as a cadet at West Point. I just assumed, without question, that eating three meals a day was the recommended, healthy thing to do. Boy, was I wrong. The practice of mindful eating made me realize that by following the “3 meals a day” recommendation, I was often forcing myself to eat when I wasn’t hungry. How is forcing myself to eat when I’m not hungry a healthy thing to do? It’s not. Instead of following the cliché, government-recommended standard, I decided to tune in deeply and listen to my body instead. Intermittent fasting was the result of that practice. It wasn’t a diet I heard about online and signed up to follow, it happened organically. As weird and “woo-rific” as this sounds, my body guided me to intermittent fasting. And now, I’m a massive fan, and, though this is subjective, I think I look better and feel better than I ever did.
Intermittent fasting potentially has health benefits. Like, a lot. I read about them online, but also in peer-reviewed, top notch journals, like the New England Journal of Medicine. It’s not easy to get a paper in there, but Dr. Mark Mattson did. His article on the benefits of intermittent fasting was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, and it was so interesting and so good that I decided to reach out and see if he’d be a guest on my Causes or Cures podcast. Lucky for me, and my listeners, he said yes.
Dr. Mattson is a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University and founding editor of NeuroMolecular Medicine and Ageing Research Reviews. He is the former Chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute of Aging and The National Institute of Health considers him “one of the world’s top experts on the potential cognitive and physical health benefits of intermittent fasting.” On this particular Causes or Cures podcast, Dr. Mattson discusses the potential health benefits of intermittent fasting, including Alzheimer’s Disease prevention, reduced memory and cognitive decline as we age, improved balance and coordination, the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes and obesity, and improved prognosis for other diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis. Dr. Mattson also discusses how intermittent fasting may be an effective lifestyle intervention for children with autism, which is both intriguing and hopeful, since parents of children with autism are constantly on the search for effective lifestyle modifications. In addition, Dr. Mattson gives his opinion on how intermittent fasting compares to the Keto diet ( discussed on a previous Causes or Cures episode) and how it compares to calorie reduction. Hope you listen ( Click here to listen!!) and get something out of it.
Other blogs or Causes or Cures episodes that might interest you:
The Social Brain Hypothesis of Depression: Hardly ever discussed in the mainstream media
Read my short parody on the Wellnes Industry: Yours in Wellness, Krystal Heeling