I’m from the Midwest. And that means I like food. A lot.
Growing up, most of my family dinners were either fried, covered with cheese, or otherwise overindulgent.
While many of my childhood tastes may have evolved, my love for greasy, fatty foods has continued well into adulthood. It helps that my wife was raised with similar tastes: Sunday dinners at her parents’ house is incomplete without extra salt, extra butter, and a slice of cheesecake.
It tastes great, but we don’t have to look very far to see how dangerous this lifestyle is. Most of my in-laws suffer from Type 2 Diabetes. My father had a minor heart attack that was largely due to diet.
But as for us, things aren’t too bad. We’re a little above the “overweight” mark on most charts, but we certainly don’t look fat. We’re not terribly out of shape: we can still bike a few miles without feeling like we’re going to die.
And besides, eating right is hard. How are we supposed to find time to buy and prepare healthy food while we’re running our business? It’s much easier to just eat Taco Bell and Pizza Rolls all the time.
At least, that’s what we thought. Until a few years ago when my wife started suffering from strange health problems: problems that a specialist identified as acid reflux and low potassium levels.
We had always known that our diets weren’t healthy, but this was the first tangible example of the harm it could do.
In the years since then, we have tried a few different methods of controlling our relationship with food. We used a calorie tracker app. We went through Whole 30.
Most recently, we’ve started intermittent fasting.
While most diets restrict what you can or can’t eat, intermittent fasting has only one rule: two days a week, you keep your caloric intake below 600. Which is pretty easy compared to quitting carbs or going vegan—especially if you’re so busy that forget to eat lunch anyway.
The non-fast days, you can eat whatever you want.
I’m already onboard for any diet that allows me to keep eating chicken nuggets and deep dish pizza. But intermittent fasting has a number of health benefits, from improved brain function to healthier skin, and even weight loss.
It might seem a little too good to be true—and honestly, I’m still not sold on all of its supposed benefits.
But what I do know is that my entire life, I have had an unhealthy relationship with food. I have indulged myself on the regular. Often, I’ll eat another slice of pizza, even thought I’m full, just because I want to taste it some more.
I have turned to food for comfort, to cure boredom, and to boost my mood. And while there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself every once in a while, indulging every impulse can be destructive.
By taking two days a week to be more intentional about what I put in my body, I’ve found that I’m becoming more intentional about what I eat those other days as well.
I might be losing some weight, but I’m gaining some self control. And that might be even more valuable.