Reading Time: 5 minutes

10 Lifestyle Rituals That Can Help When You are Fasting

by | Nov 18, 2020 | EATING/FASTING

One thing you’ll find yourself with more of when you fast is time. You’ll have hours that you’re not spending prepping, eating (and cleaning up!), and plenty of time that you’re trying to not think about eating.

“In my experience, clients express that their biggest obstacle to trying fasting is the fear of being hungry,” says Shannan Bergtholdt, MS Ed, RD, Fasting Expert, Owner, Revolution Dietitian. [1] “This is a natural human response. We need food to survive. Let’s replace fear with curiosity and view the fasting window as an opportunity to learn more about what our body is telling us and why we eat.”

 When you start to feel hungry, explore what emotions you are experiencing at the moment. Are you feeling bored or restless at the time? Do you habitually eat at this time, so are you conditioned to eat now? Are you at a social event where you feel obligated to eat, even though you may not be hungry? Or is your stomach growling, indicating true physiological hunger? [2]

Experiencing hunger is a common and expected part of fasting and weight loss, says Bergtholdt. “Learning to trust when your body signals true hunger is a powerful tool. Identifying true hunger creates freedom and flexibility from worrying about needing to eat every few hours.” 

Hunger is a natural and expected part of fasting. Set the stage for a successful fast with these tools to occupy your mind and body, as you work through waves of hunger.

  1. Write down your goals and intention for the fast.

“Writing brings our thoughts into the prefrontal cortex of the brain, where logical, rational thinking occurs,” says Bergtholdt. Research finds that writing down goals makes you more likely to achieve them. Seeing your goals written down in a place where you’ll notice them throughout the day will remind me of why you are committed to fasting. [3]

  1. Try meditation or deep breathing.

This mindfulness exercise works to bring your awareness to the present moment. Instead of worrying about hunger or how much longer you have to fast, being in the moment can help reduce stress and make the fast a more peaceful experience, says Bergtholdt. If you’re new to meditation, there are tons of apps and free guided meditations available online whether you have two minutes, 20 minutes, or two hours (kudos to you!).  Similar to meditation, deep breathing exercises have a two-fold benefit. “One, it creates awareness of your breath, turning the focus away from hunger,” says Bergtholdt. “Secondly, deep breathing helps calm the mind, which will leave you feeling focused and energized to take on the rest of your fast.”

  1. Do some yoga.

Gentle stretching or yoga is an excellent way to move your body and practice breathing. Follow a video online to help pass the time. Exercise may trigger hunger in some people, so listen to the cues your body is giving you about movement. 

  1. Have a few go-to distractions ready.

Board games, puzzles, and video games are perfect for rainy days and fasting days alike. “If you are the only one fasting in your house, it may feel lonely, but finding a game or activity is a great way to engage with the people in your home that doesn’t center around food,” says Bergtholdt. It might be helpful to jot down a list of things you can do with your time during a fast—like work on a house project, a hobby, or give yourself a manicure—so it reminds you that you’re doing something for yourself.

  1. Chew gum.

One of the temporary side effects of prolonged fasting, like doing a 5:2:2 fast or water-only fast, is bad breath. The cause of bad breath is two-fold, says Bergtholdt. “It could be acetone breath from an increased production of ketones, or, without food, the salivary glands aren’t producing as much salvia and the mouth dries out.” A dry mouth allows bacteria to proliferate. It’s like having all-day morning breath. This is another reason to drink lots of fluids while fasting. “Keep in mind that sugar-free chewing gums contain artificial sweeteners, which can elicit an insulin response in the body,” says Bergtholdt. “Chewing gum will technically break a water-only fast, but since the insulin effect is so small, it should be fine during a fast.”  To protect against breaking fast, ideally, limit yourself to 1-2 pieces of gum per day.

  1. Sip warm beverages.

Drinking hot tea or black coffee are both acceptable during a fast. Consuming a warm beverage may help give you the feeling of fullness, plus caffeine is a natural appetite suppressor, says Bergtholdt. If you find that you’re trying to kick an evening snacking habit, drinking flavored herbal tea or hot water with lemon can be comforting to sip slowly and a nice distraction. Eventually, you will likely have reduced hunger at night after fasting. Check out our alternatives to pumpkin spice lattes. [4]

  1. Go for a walk outside.

You knew this piece of advice was coming but walking is a great activity to do while fasting. “A light walk outside is a tremendous mood booster and appetite suppressant,” says Bergtholdt. Even going on a 15-minute walk might help reduce cravings, according to research. “Plus, sometimes it helps to physically remove yourself from situations that may be triggering your hunger, like being in the kitchen, or sitting and watching TV if you tend to snack in front of it.” [5]

  1. Call a friend or connect online.

When you aren’t preparing meals and snacks all day, it frees a lot of minutes during the day. Use that time to reach out to a friend or family member who makes you happy–or just one who likes to talk a lot and will keep you tied up for an hour! You might also want to connect with a fasting community online and read message boards for tips and to feel like you aren’t on this fasting journey alone. [6]

  1. Take a nap.

You may find your energy levels lower than normal during a fast. “Take the time that you need to rest or take a nap,” advises Bergtholdt. If you just laughed at this suggestion and know that rest isn’t an option, try to rest during activities that aren’t physically demanding, like lounging while helping kids with homework. You could also ask the family to pitch in on chores during your fasting days. 

  1. Enjoy a hot bath or long shower.

If you’re not a regular bather because you think you don’t have the time or it’s too much effort, soak in the tub during your fasting hours or days as a form of self-care.  Toss in bath salts or scented bubble bath, light a peppermint-scented candle (the scent is a natural appetite suppressant), turn on music, and give yourself the gift of 10 minutes of relaxation. [7] If you take a warm bath or shower at night, it can help you fall asleep faster and possibly improve your sleep quality as the body cools down.[8]

Read More:

[1]Shannan Bergtholdt, Ms Ed, Rd Longevity Expert.

[2] 6 Ways To Help You Get Through Hunger Pains When Intermittent Fasting

[3] Goals Research Summary

[4] Alternatives to Pumpkin Spice Lattes

[5] Acute Effects of Brisk Walking on Sugary Snack Cravings in Overweight People, Affect and Responses to a Manipulated Stress Situation and to a Sugary Snack Cue: A Crossover Study

[6] Fast Insider Group 

[7] Effects Of Retro-nasal Aroma Release On Satiation

[8] Before-bedtime passive body heating by warm shower or bath to improve sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis