‘No-Dinner Energy Experiment’

sunset blog

I have been experimenting with the ‘No-Dinner Energy Plan’, or two meals a day, or ‘cyclical fasting’, (having a regular evening fast time to rest my stomach), since January 14 2017.  I have not done it perfectly, but I am already seeing benefits and have increased energy.  The thing that interested me a lot about cyclical fasting, is the effect it has on increasing the release of human growth hormone in the evening.  I started on this experiment, also because I was tired of all the little health problems I was having and feeling constantly drained of energy.  I have shared some of my ‘journal’ so far, here.  I haven’t put all of it, because it is already 14 pages long!  My cut-off time is 5 pm, although I normally have lunch the very latest at 3 pm, so I am completely finished eating by 3 or 4 pm.  I go to bed at about 10 – 11 pm.

14/01/2017 Post 1: Maximum Energy Plan Week 1:

Focus this week: Replace evening meals with hydration and cleansing.

Why do I want to have more energy? I need it! What health challenges do I have? (this is on a mostly sedentary, not really careful vegetarian eating plan with sporadic hours for meals and eating snacks whenever I want):

*Sluggish circulation and digestion – perhaps thyroid is underactive

*hormones seem a bit wacky – [update – I had hormones and thyroid tested, they were both normal]

*my skin has changed from oily to dry with fine wrinkles and I realised that I need to do something so I don’t age really fast!

*My abdomen feels constantly puffy and like I’m putting on weight there. It is starting to restrict my breathing and squash together uncomfortably when I sit down.

*Even when I have eight hours sleep I wake up feeling sleepy and demotivated to get out of bed.

*Sometimes I have trouble falling asleep.

*I feel constantly dehydrated and dry even with eight glasses of water per day. My eyes and nose always feel dry too, which just annoys me.

*My voice is dry and gets tired easily. I can’t read too many stories to the kids or I get tired.

*I don’t feel hungry at breakfast time.

Main benefits I need:

*More energy

*Being able to rise earlier in the morning without feeling very tired and grumpy later.

*Fix constant feeling of dehydration.

Benefits I would like and think might realistically happen:

*Feel hungrier for breakfast and enjoy eating more

*Digestive processes becoming more regular – fixing occasional constipation issues.

*Boosted immune system.

*Better sleep with less sleep disturbances.

*Easier time falling asleep.

*Kids would have regular meal-times too, and feel more hungry for meals (I hope)

*Food would taste better after resting my taste-buds more

Fantasy Benefits that I Dream of but Might Not Happen:

*Better, clearer looking skin

*My hair would grow faster

*My tummy will stop looking like a puffy marshmallow

*I will not get as wrinkly as I should for my age – LOL!

*My lips would look soft and puffy, as if I’d had plastic surgery

*My eyes would change to an exotic new colour

*I can spend less time cooking and cleaning dishes if I don’t cook a huge dinner

19/01/2017 – after 5 days of ‘no dinner’:

I still haven’t been waking early but it seems my bowels are working better and my stomach doesn’t look as swollen. Even when I try to push it out as far as it will go it still doesn’t look as big as before. Last night again I was craving to eat chicken (I cooked it for my husband who isn’t vegetarian). I still sometimes feel like eating it even though I’m vegetarian. However, this morning when I got up for breakfast the desire to eat it was totally gone. This happens over and over again. At night time I crave rich foods, but then by morning the feeling that I want to eat them is gone. I made a rule that if I really want to eat a rich food it has to be at breakfast or lunch, not at dinner or it will sit in my stomach all night.

I also noticed last night that my eyes were watering normally for the first time in a very long time. It is a great feeling after having dry eyes for so long!

My voice is well-hydrated. I can sing and talk more easily without it getting dull and dry-sounding.

So it seems a lot of benefits I’m getting so far are based on not being chronically dehydrated. The thing is, though, that I was drinking a lot of water before, but I couldn’t absorb it properly with my stomach working on digesting food with no proper rest.

The other thing is that I doubt my stomach was swollen just from fat. I think it was my digestive system jammed up.

20/01/2017

I got over-excited about singing . My daughter and I started doing warm-up scales, with our voices getting higher and higher (we only sing in the car so no-one hears us). We sang so high that my 2-yr-old son started giggling non-stop, then we all burst into laughter. It was fun, but I think I strained my poor vocal cords. I haven’t been able to sing that high for a long time. I went and got some really comfy shoes since I have a muscle problem with my foot (the doctor said most likely plantar fasciitis). I ate ice-cream and fruit in the afternoon. I was just getting used to the new schedule and I wasn’t feeling hungry in the afternoon, but it seems like habits die hard, even when I’m not feeling like eating. I just eat because that’s what I’ve always done! We also had friends over that we haven’t seen for ages, and I ate a bit of dinner with them too. I could tell the food I ate was in my stomach the whole night.

21/01/2017

I was tired and spent quite a bit of time just lying around soaking up some of the mild afternoon sunshine while visiting relatives for lunch. I was determined not to eat dinner again even though I felt hungry again as my stomach quickly goes back to the old routine.

22/01/2017

Last night it was so hard to sleep. I don’t know why, perhaps I was expecting the old routine of me snacking before bed to ‘sedate’ myself. I was so wide awake until midnight, then woke up at 3 am (expecting one of the kids to wake up). Anyway, I didn’t get a heap of sleep and though I felt really hungry before bed, I just drank heaps of water, and when I woke up I felt hungry, but not starving. I went for a jog with the kids as they were totally hyper when they woke up. It was really refreshing to exercise and get a bit of morning sunshine before breakfast!

I ate a big breakfast to make sure I get enough nutrients, even though the kids were trying to hurry me up. One advantage of the ‘two meals a day’ thing, is I have become really conscientious about getting good quality, nutritious food with enough calories and protein into my breakfast and lunch. In the past I have been known to forget all about breakfast for myself and just get distracted with something else, or eat something too high in sugar. Both options mean I crash later in the day and feel really tired and grumpy.

I have noticed that my energy levels seem a bit more stable, and I’m not feeling desperately tired and lethargic in the afternoon as I was recently.

I also feel that I am calmer emotionally, with God’s help.

In fact, when my energy has crashed in the past I have at times felt dreadfully despondent. I think there must be a close connection between physical and mental energy.

My old way of doing things is so deeply ingrained since I have done it for 34 years that I certainly need God’s help to change. Please help me, dear God, not to give up, since I have already seen so many cool benefits.

I hope to see more benefits and to be more of a blessing to my family, fellow humans and God with the increased energy that I believe I will get from improving my health and energy efficiency.

It would be a great start for me to get up earlier so I can have some quiet devotional time before the kids get up, prepare simple and nutritious food, and have breakfast on time! And maybe even get the house in order a bit – LOL!

That is what I would like to do, but before I do lots of extra things I need the basics – health and energy . Without them I won’t accomplish nearly as much as I could.

I know because I tried the opposite approach – getting up early to accomplish tasks I wanted to get done without having enough energy. Bad plan! After a few days I would get so tired and grumpy, and often end up getting sick. Often the tasks are not essential anyway. When I’m tired, I end up doing things that are not really the priority, then by evening I run out of energy.

23/01/17

Last night I wanted to eat anything and everything that was being cooked and/or in the fridge. But, yet again, when I woke up for breakfast all the cravings for the foods I wanted to eat last night were gone!

Fasting at dinner time gave me the opportunity to run around at sunset time, after we fed the ducks. I love jogging in the evening, but if I run after eating I feel seasick and give myself a really ‘heavy stomach’.

The other great benefit for me is the immune system boost! I went to bed before 10 but didn’t get to sleep till 11.15 pm because one of my children woke up crying in their sleep. I settled them, then finally went to bed. My husband awoke me at 5.30 am in his process of getting ready for work, and the afore-mentioned child woke at 6.15 am! If I had eaten late at night I would have been totally exhausted, and would be feeling like I was about to catch a sore throat. The ‘cyclic fasting’, is a great immune and energy boost!

History of Fasting in the Evening:

According to ‘The Watchman on the Wall’ http://healthwatchman.com/the-no-dinner-diet-2/, there are different cultures and religious traditions that traditionally did not eat at night, or at least had the main meal at morning or lunch, then ate only very lightly at night – such as only having soup (which is where the word ‘supper’ comes from.. ‘souper’).

23/01/17

My taste-buds are changing! Day 8 I just noticed when I was eating breakfast, that the food tasted intensely salty – just really really strong, compared to how it had tasted before. I had eaten the same food just 2 days before and didn’t notice. I never knew I was eating such salty food! I also noticed that I didn’t really enjoy the dark chocolate I had after lunch. I realised I don’t really like the taste, it’s just another ‘food habit.’ I even thought about adding Milo to my small drink of soy milk, but realised that I don’t feel like eating it. It is the first time I have ever not felt like eating Milo. I’m starting to find that sweet sugary cane sugar tastes are not really enjoyable to me. I only like the sweet taste that comes from fresh fruit Other than that, I enjoy the more savoury flavours, but now with less salt! I’m starting to crave fresh food more.

24/01/17

I can breathe! I have more room in my lungs. When I started this ‘two meal’ experiment only a little while ago I noticed that I couldn’t fill my lungs to full capacity. I would breathe in as deeply as I could and I felt something stopping me. I couldn’t quite fill them. Anyway, I just realised yesterday that I am taking full, deep breaths into my lungs and they feel just as they should. I have room to breathe!

Even more amazing, (which I will have to try again because I can’t believe it would happen), is that I sprinted around the playground yesterday, and for the first time in two years my pelvic floor held out and I didn’t have any ‘leaks’. I will have to test out my sprinting again because it could just be a coincidence. Anyway, I’m really excited and hoping it is true – that I can run full speed again.

Maybe the muscle-building benefits and human growth hormone release of evening fasting and really working!

Last night I was a bit hungry, but not as much. It takes about three or four days for the feeling of hunger to subside in the evening, and I started the feeling of hunger again by eating ice-cream in the evening for 3 days in a row and having dinner Friday night with our visitors we hadn’t seen a long time.

Anyway, last night, my stomach was calm and even though all the food smelt so good, when I woke up in the morning food wasn’t the first thought on my mind. All of the cravings from the night before were gone, and I felt like eating berries, weetbix, nuts, etc., I didn’t feel like eating really salty food. The food that used to taste OK to me now tastes much more salty than before. I also don’t find very sugary foods appealing (at breakfast time). Night-time is always when I crave the fatty, sugary, fried, heavy types of food, but after sleeping all those cravings disappear.

Difference between cyclical fasting and spasmodic fasting: I think the main difference is that because cyclical fasting is a consistent routine, the body adjusts, and knows not to expect food at that time.  Therefore, it is able to regulate blood sugar levels, etc.,  Spasmodic, unexpected fasting (especially the most extreme types that only allow water or even no food and drink) are a different kettle of fish.  I can eat fresh fruit in the evening and I still count it as fasting, because it is so easy for my stomach to digest.

25/01/17

Yesterday I didn’t eat a proper lunch as we had visitors coming. Anyway, I was really really hungry by 4 so I ate heaps of food. I still felt OK by bed time, just a little more tired than normal, and I felt a little more sleepy this morning. I also felt my immune system dip a bit yesterday as it was a really busy first few days of the week, having one of the kids’ cousins visiting. The good thing is we went to lots of playgrounds and did lots of exercise!

I need to remember that resting and putting up my feet is really important for keeping myself in good health. Just 15 or 20 min in the afternoon makes a big difference rather than being on my feet all day!

This morning I ate a really big breakfast, though I felt like the processed food (vegetarian sausage) just tasted like processed rubbish, not like real food. I am feeling a lot more like eating real food in its natural state.

I felt grumpy after breakfast, until I went for a jog in the mild sunshine. The deep breathing and sunshine gave me such a lift. I realised that I really hate spending lots of time indoors when it is so beautiful outside. I need to organise my time so I get needed indoor tasks done early, so I’m not stuck inside for long periods of time.

26/01/17

Yesterday I felt warmer! I am usually a cold fish but for the first time I went through the shopping mall with hot weather outside, and I wasn’t wearing a jacket. Normally I would get chilled and feel my immune system getting low if I went from being sweaty, to being in a cool shopping centre. I was there for several hours and I felt my body was maintaining a healthy temperature more easily.

I had a really big breakfast, but only had a huge boost juice, a fruit bar and brown rice crackers while shopping, because I dislike just about all take-away food and find it over-priced.

My idea of a big breakfast:

2 pieces of toast with 4 tsps oil (instead of butter) and marmite

1 large bowl cornflakes with full fat soy milk

blueberries

1 large smoothie – strawberry, banana, soy chocolate ice-cream, Milo

1 fried vegetarian sausage

3 ounces fried tofu

This is a big breakfast for me as I’m an average – small size with very small bone structure.

My husband is tall, big-boned and muscular, most likely his nutritional needs for maintenance would be 2 or 3 times as much as me – no wonder he thinks I should eat more!

When we got home from shopping my husband was concerned I hadn’t eaten enough in the day and that I would fade away. I added up all the calories and compared it to the requirement for moderately active (I wasn’t active while shopping – it was like being sedentary for almost the whole day – blech). Anyway, my calories were about 150 short of that for a moderately active woman of my size, so I drank a glass of milk with heaps of Milo in it to add an extra 200 – 250 calories.

I’m better at noticing what foods affect my immune system and I’ve worked out that chocolate, sugar, dairy and stimulants such as tea and coffee lower my immune system. So Milo wasn’t the best choice . I felt a little bit of a dip after having it, so I had more water and took some Chilean ‘throat’ medicine. (It has goldenseal in it, and other things that I don’t understand because I’m not very good at reading Spanish).

Chocolate doesn’t act straight away, because at first it feels like it gives me a lift, but after a while I can feel my sinuses going dry and having a slight burning feeling, or a cooling feeling in my throat. I get a bit hyper and have extra energy for a while, then I feel a little bit run down. The darker the chocolate, the stronger the effect. I have still eaten chocolate several times over the course of my 2 meals a day experiment, as each time I try to convince myself that I must be craving it because it has iron or other nutrients. However, the effects on my sinuses are too uncomfortable, and if I take it to the extreme, combined with dairy and sugar, I will have a guaranteed sinus infection. I had several months of ongoing sinus infections that just wouldn’t go away. They would just be on and off, on and off the whole time. I finally figured out how to get rid of them and I haven’t had it come back. I will write about what I did soon. I will have to find other, similarly rich food that has lots of nutrients and/or antioxidants, like grape juice, dark grapes and berries, marmite, spinach, etc.,

Also, I’m taking multi-vitamins.

How I got rid of my chronic sinusitis and it hasn’t come back. (It’s not easy if you like sweets and milk!)

I cut out:

Dairy

Cane Sugar and other refined sugar

Chocolate

This includes everything made with dairy and/or sugar, like yoghurt, cheese, ice-cream, cakes, cookies, donuts, sweet bread, sugary drinks, etc.,

I cut out eating very cold foods, such as chilled water, cold smoothies and juices, and especially ice-cream. Sadly, ice-cream is one of the biggest culprits for me.

I cut out drinking with meals. This was hard as I felt dry after eating, but fruit can be eaten with meals to ease the dryness. As soon as I cut out drinking with meals I had a noticeable reduction in the flow of mucous from sinuses (gross).

I did more cardio exercise. Outdoors. It was embarrassing at first because I had a constantly stuffy, blocked nose and had to keep blowing my nose when exercising with other people, but yet again it was a big step in clearing up the infection.

The above changes took at least three weeks to take effect and then my sinuses just started clearing up and the infection going away.

I also got a herbal throat spray based on olive leaf extract and sprayed it in the back of my throat if it felt funny.

27/28/29

I can’t believe I have gone so many days without eating dinner at night (other than the ocassional watermelon, lettuce salad or ice-cream). I am at a bit of a bored point, where I am still getting benefits (such as no dry eyes) but no exciting new developments to really make me enthusiastic about it. Still, I want to stick with this as it is definitely helping me be healthier. Also, I definitely don’t have ANY constipation or the opposite.

I have noticed I haven’t been baking unhealthy food lately, and also night time is about the only time when I really crave high fat, fried, high sugar, and just about everything else. In the morning, the cravings are gone!

My taste buds are tasting things a lot better and I’m not getting a lot of pleasure from overly sweet foods with cane sugar.

I’m still eating as many calories as I can fit in at breakfast time, but I still think I am just meeting my maintenance calories goal for the day, because night-time used to be the time when I would take in the most calories. I seriously used to snack for hours in the evening.

07/02/2017

on 20/01/2017 I ate ice-cream and fruit in the afternoon. The ice-cream was full on and as soon as my body gets food in the afternoon it goes immediately back to the old pattern and I have to go through about three or four days of feeling really hungry in the evening again. The old habits are still there if I go back to them – most likely due to the strong neural connection between brain and stomach. So, I sort of re-started from the 20th, and I have had 18 days in a row since then without eating dinner.

I will just give thanks to God for that, because I have never done it for that long before.

It is hard – especially when we go out to a take-away restaurant, say ‘La Porchetta’, and I can smell the food so intensely. In the evening I always crave the really high-fat, fast-food kind of stuff.

I don’t want to let go of the health benefits I am experiencing though. They are too good!

To get me through that high-craving time, I just pray, think of other things I can do, keep my mouth busy drinking water or herbal tea (sometimes I have high-quality juice or fresh fruit that is very easy to digest and hydrating – such as watermelon).

I realised after a while that most likely I am just dehydrated and need a lot of hydration. My stomach loves having a rest from digesting food, and I have more energy already.

Benefits so far after 24 days of this experiment:

My favourite benefits:

My eyes are not dry anymore, and seem more sparkly to me – hee hee.

  • My lips are not chronically dry anymore and only have a tiny bit of dry skin every now and then – they also have more natural colour. Before, they looked pale and shrivelled, and had dry skin hanging off them all the time – a small but irritating problem.
  • I can run and exercise in the evening without upsetting my stomach.
  • I can run fast without leakage – for some reason my pelvic floor seems stronger – this is crazy!  I have to test this more because I can’t believe it.
  • My voice is starting to come back. For a few months before I started this experiment, my voice was so tired, that I had to stop singing altogether. I also had to limit reading to my children to only about one chapter or one/two childrens’ books a day. I even had to stop talking sometimes just so my voice wouldn’t get worn out. It was getting to the point that I would even get a sore throat from over-using my voice – so it was making me sick. I felt quite sad about it. Now, my voice is returning, and I can sing high notes again as I used to when I was in my teens and 20’s. My voice doesn’t sound dry and raspy anymore, too, so I can talk in a more pleasant tone.
  • My stomach is much less swollen, even after eating. I used to stick out my stomach and it looked like 4 months pregnant. Now, even when I try to stick out my stomach, after eating a big meal, it is at least 2 inches less than before.  In the morning, my stomach looks much flatter than before, and I can almost see my ‘abs’. This is not from fat loss. The swollen look of my stomach was to do with my digestive system. I don’t know exactly how, but I’m glad to have a much less swollen-looking stomach.
  • My taste-buds are alive! I have suddenly realised how salty food tastes! I’m finding the salty flavours that I liked before are almost over-powering. I am preferring food that is less salty, and less artificially sweet. I’m finding the sweet sucrose-ey tasting foods too sweet as well. I’m loving the sweetness of fruit though.

Other benefits:

I am sleeping better with less interruptions

  • I can go out in cold weather and cold shopping malls and I don’t get chilled and lower my immune system, as used to happen before
  • I can go to sleep later (by about 1 ½ hrs) and wake up earlier (by about ½ hr so far) and I still feel energetic
  • My afternoon ‘slump’ times are less intense – I’m not feeling the tiredness as much
  • I feel less ‘brain fog’, and my word recall is getting better
  • I have more free time since I’m not wasting time baking unhealthy cookies and cakes, etc.,
  • I have more free time in the evening too, since I’m not eating all evening.
  • I haven’t had a hint of sinusitis or mucous in my throat. It used to be a chronic problem for me. I have to add regarding this problem, that I have completely cut out dairy, which is the biggest culprit in sinusitis and mucous problems for me
  • The intensity of my irritability and grumpy feelings has diminished a lot. I still get annoyed sometimes but I feel that I have more power to be patient. I have been praying about this too
  • I’m eating breakfast much more consistently and getting more quality nutrients since I have no choice. I can’t just have a meagre breakfast or skip it

There are even more benefits but I have to stop typing now as the kids are waking up and it’s time for breakfast!

Advertisements

Scrambled Tofu

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 6.03.08 AM

Ingredients I add to scrambled tofu to make it tasty and ‘egg-like’:

Salt

Turmeric

Italian herbs

Garlic

Milk (any type of milk)

Savoury yeast flakes (they contain B12)

Paprika

When it is cooked I add some flaxseed/linseed oil for essential fatty acids. With all these ingredients I found it had a surprisingly ‘eggy’ flavour. Soft-medium tofu is best although I did get away with firm, with extra milk to soften it.

 

 

 Disclaimer

Polenta Porridge

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 5.56.54 AM

Tips for easy polenta porridge:

Fine polenta cooks much faster than coarse and doesn’t have any crunchy bits

I boil the water first and gradually stir it into the polenta with a whisk

A little polenta goes a long way. I only use 1/2 – to 1 cup for me and the kids

I add some milk, a pinch of salt and some vanilla/mixed spice, then serve with a little bit of extra milk/yoghurt and a drizzle of liquid sweetener.

Dried fruit and nuts combined with whole-grains add extra nutrition and balance 😉

 

 

Disclaimer

How to Make Oat Porridge Kids Like

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 5.59.54 AM

First of all, I don’t call it ‘oat porridge’, I call it ‘creamed oats’ when I serve it to the kids! I blend the oats in my blender to make them smooth.  I cook it with water, milk, a pinch of salt and cinnamon/vanilla, and serve it fresh with some milk or yoghurt, liquid sweetener and a garnish of fruit. The texture of the oats has a lot to do with it, as I struggled to get my daughter to touch oats when I would keep them whole.

Disclaimer

Peaches and Barley

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 5.55.35 AM

Peaches and barley – delicious! I had to cook the barley by itself until it was soft, then drain and rinse in a colander. The Chilean side of my family have a dessert like this, with the barley served cold with peaches in syrup. I used peaches in juice – simple but still yummy.

 
Disclaimer