How to Eat in a Way That’s Best for Your Health

How to Eat in a Way That’s Best for Your Health

Intermittent fasting—tech gurus like Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey swear by it, and celebrities like Hugh Jackman said it helped them build muscle mass. It’s one of the most popular wellness trends of the moment, but not everyone is convinced. Some health experts say it can easily become a form of disordered eating.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Obsessively Thinking about food isn’t healthy for anyone, but intermittent fasting (IF) promotes knowing when you can and cannot eat. IF is when you eat during a small window of time each day and then fast for the rest. There are different methods, but one of the most popular is the 16/8 method. This is when you restrict your eating to a daily eight-hour window, then fast for the other 16 hours (typically when you sleep and wake).

How Intermittent Fasting Can Affect Your Well-being

Megan Bruneau, a New York-based registered clinical counselor who specializes in mental health and eating disorders, echoes Kallen’s stance. She says that when we severely restrict our food intake or don’t eat even when we’re hungry, our body believes food is scarce. When this happens, not only does our metabolism slow, but our hormones can get out of whack, too. And, in extreme cases for women, periods can stop. (Amenorrhea is the absence of menstruation, which can be caused by low body weight or excessive exercise.)

How to Eat in a Way That’s Best for Your Health

Bruneau says that if someone wants to eat well or engage in healthier lifestyle habits, intuitive eating is key. Intuitive or mindful eating is when you listen to your hunger cues, stop when full, and nourish your body in the way it needs. This means that if you’re really craving a piece of birthday cake, have it. When you want vegetables, enjoy them just as much.

Bruneau says extreme dieting rarely works, and people often end up putting back on the weight they lost—or gaining more altogether. Intuitive eating, on the other hand, is not a short-term weight-loss solution; it’s a way of life.

“Intuitive eating is definitely at the opposite end of the spectrum, because it allows you to work with your body, not against it like intermittent fasting suggests,” Kallen adds.