Quarantine Series: Letter 4
Let me list the things that are needed to allow me to compulsively consume junk food:
- Isolationist environment
- Constant state of exhaustion
- Stress from school work
- Looming threat of exams
- Uncertainty for the future.
I think it’s safe to admit that all of the above, almost completely because of you, have forced me to create a cocoon of sorts, where I use stress and fatigue as an excuse to eat compulsively and unhealthily, thus disrupting the healthy progress of my workout regime. About a month into quarantine, I began to stop having quality meals and reverted to intermittent snacking. I thought by eradicating the ‘meal’ portion, I would inherently cancel out the surplus oils and fats inputted into my system through the snacks and thus maintain a healthy-ish diet. While dealing with the stress and spontaneity of the pandemic, I resorted to quelling my insecurities through comfort food such as carbohydrates and foods overly rich in oils and sweets. I didn’t really notice a difference in my being until realization finally hit me when I realized that my dietary behavior barricaded any further progress from my gym sessions. Thus, this sudden awareness of my problem sparked a change in me that compelled me to alter my intake of food.
After much research, I realized that I had to drastically alter my diet in order to better myself and allow for my physicality to improve while working out. I discovered a website online; Healthline that provides a vast array of dieting options and after discussing it with my parents, I chose to follow the intermittent fasting (IF) eating pattern as I could draw some parallels between IF and my previous regime (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-guide#methods). Once I clicked the IF interlinked word, the page opened up to a possibility of three types of Intermittent Fasting; 16/8, Eat-Stop-Eat and 5:2 diet. I ultimately decided to follow the 16/8 as my earlier eating pattern had many close similarities towards the structure of this new method.
I recognized two commonalities between these two eating patterns as both were structured around ‘intermittent’ cycles and both previous diets entailed ‘water’ as the only liquid during the process. Before fundamentally switching my incongruent eating cycles from unstructured to planned, I wanted to initially ‘test the waters’ to see if IF agreed with my body, and so I attempted to follow an IF – centric schedule for a week.
Prior to starting the trial run, I formed two goals that I hoped to achieve should I follow the 16/8 intermittent fasting regime, thereby identifying my own strengths and area for personal growth.
- My primary goal was to stay true to the structure and maintain this eating pattern, without reverting to the older and less predictable plan.
- The more secondary goal was to follow this plan in order to lose 6 kg in 3 months, as stated in the ‘weight-loss implication section’ of Heathline.
Similar to when embarking on new endeavors, I experienced some initial reluctance and skepticism as I found it quite difficult to follow the strict perimeters of the 16/8 diet and almost relapsed into my old eating pattern. However, I showed perseverance and commitment to my CAS experience and championed on, successfully completing the trial run. Admittedly, I was quite shocked at how effective the results were as I didn’t initially perceive this new dietary change having a lasting impact on my being. The extent of this impact was not limited to me feeling physically ‘lighter’ or ‘healthier’ but extended upon improving my mental state; I seemed to have adopted a more stress-free and focused mentality, as a subtle byproduct.
This CAS experience is also a reflection of how I have demonstrated that challenges have been undertaken, while developing new skills in the process. The obvious challenges as described above are transparent through the trial period where I almost reverted to my old eating pattern, however was resilient and persevered in the face of adversity. This experience also provided me with a safe place for growth; not purely just growing and adapting into my new health plan but in fact polishing intrinsic values of resilience, patience and trust. I felt as if I gained a new dimension to these already existing qualities by using this experience as an empirical, learning tool.
Although by adopting the structure of intermittent fasting I inherently had to alter my diet, this was not the case at first. For the first three days of the trial run, I attempted to maintain my non-nutritious foods consumption. During that period, I felt more exhausted and often adopted a sensitive and easily irritable attitude, to which I realized was the lack of nourishment and vitamins provided from healthy food that were absent from my list of nutriments. Thus, on the fourth the day I stopped choosing to eat foods that were directly harmful and contributed to most of the oil intake of my system and substituted the ‘junk food’ with healthy alternatives.
For example, when following my carefree and non-organized eating plan, I used tortilla chips as my default snack. However, I substituted this with a balanced serving of almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and bits of organic dried papaya. I made sure to have some similarity to either the taste or structure of the original snack as I wanted to ease myself into this new program. As such, I continued this process when replacing bananas and non-fat yoghurt in place of sweets, while oranges and passion fruit replaced table top crackers. As an avid tea drinker, lessening the sugar content in my tea was excruciatingly painful as I happened to cheat myself when ‘accidently’ tossing in the extra spoon of sugar. However, towards the end of the trial run, I found a healthy alternative; ‘organic coconut sugar’. This replacement happened to mimic the same level of sweetness while being organic and natural. It was undeniably difficult at first, as my primal drive and stubborn habitats often made me reach for the nearest bag of chips, but I stayed true to my first goal and drove on.
I hope to continue this plan as its implications are understandably effective. I hope to use Intermittent Fasting as a catalyst to further quicken the process of achieving my goals. Drawing from the previous post, I suppose this new change in my food structure, although not candidly caused by you, is a new improvement borne out of this unfortunate situation. This is a positive change that has occurred on account of your presence, contrasting your otherwise infectious and damaging influence, and I suppose some thanks is in order. Therefore, I thank you for providing me with yet another opportunity to rise to the occasion and persevere against you, and may this be a reminder that you have failed.
One of 7.6 billion lives you affected.