Andrew’s Blog: Fast and Less Furious

When Barack Hussein Obama, the 44th President of the United States, was in office, he wore the same thing every day. Ok, not exactly the same thing like he was a character in The Simpsons, but pretty much the same thing every single day. He wore a white shirt with a blue or grey suit, and he didn’t entertain the idea of switching up this pattern during his 8 years as leader of the free world.

Why?

His reasoning was simple. He had so many decisions to make with massive, real-world consequences that he didn’t need to lose time or valuable headspace thinking about whether pairing a pastel pink shirt and brown brogues would make him more or less popular with the electorate. He had other things to think about. And so do you. You might not be the U.S President, but if you’re reading this blog, chances are you are a person in business, perhaps even a CEO looking to gain a little balance in a world that is constantly asking you “what’s next”. If that’s you and you’re looking for a little advice and support, you’ve come to the right place.

When I was young, I didn’t have dreams to become the President of the United States. Not only because I had a reasonable understanding of the geography, making it an unlikely goal in the first place, but also because I loved hockey and wasn’t willing to sacrifice my time on the rink in the hopes of one day sitting in The Oval Office. Also, The West Wing hadn’t come out yet, so if I’m honest, I didn’t give it as much thought as this intro suggests…

When I was younger, I didn’t spend too much time thinking about what to wear. What I spent a lot of time thinking about was what I was going to eat. I was a chubby child, and children, as we all know, can be cruel since we all were one once. I knew I was a chubby child, and I was reminded of it by my peers.

This resulted in food and cravings becoming an obsession well before I could spell the word obsession. Now, I am pleased and relieved to say food cravings do not control my life anymore. I have found simplicity and balance in a world begging me not to. And in this blog, I’m going to explain how.

Welcome to The Andrew Sillitoe blog. I’ve got a tasty article for you today. Let’s get stuck in.

Most of us are living in a world that our grandparents couldn’t have imagined. I’m 45 years old, and I know that when my Grandpa was 45, he was facing food shortages, rationing and uncertainties that spanned far broader than “should I try the new takeaway down the road or Deliveroo my old favourite straight to the door?”. And yet, if you’re anything like me, you often find yourself in a state of panic when you wander into a supermarket or shop to grab some food on the go…

We are, almost all of us, used to facing a different problem to food shortages. Our food problems nearly all come down to excess. Both too much food and, more pressingly, too much choice. Thousands of food companies suggest that their product offers a more exciting, delicious alternative to the others if their constant advertisements are to be believed.

I have often found myself standing in a supermarket, as I try to comprehend the sheer scale of my mind-melting task, which is…

“what do I want for dinner?”

Recently I made a choice to take the option away. I did an “Obama”. Now do I think that the Nobel Peace Prize-winning President would appreciate me referring to “doing an Obama” as removing choice from my everyday life? Probably not. But he also probably isn’t listening, so I am going to carry on…

A few years ago, I discovered the world of intermittent fasting or IF as it is sometimes called. Since moving to a fasting lifestyle, I am thrilled to say that I am feeling less stressed, less anxious, and less hungry. Mathematically, I didn’t understand how eating less would make me feel fuller, but it did, and it does.

Intermittent fasting may not be for everyone. I am not a medical professional, so I want to clarify that I am sharing my own personal relationship with food. I hope that talking about my journey, will allow you to start thinking about yours.

Here are some facts to start us off.
Since the 1960s, humans have been eating an average of 500 extra calories per person per day in the Western world. This is basically the equivalent of an extra meal every single day. This increase in caloric intake is matched by the rise in food choices. We can get more food faster than ever before. And these meals are often processed and made with more sugar than we would expect. But that’s not the focus of the blog today.

If any of you have ever turned on Netflix with the idea of just “seeing what’s on” and spent between 30 seconds and what seems like 48 hours scanning through endless categories of shows, documentaries and films, you are not alone. The overwhelming choice Netflix, and other streaming services offer, is more paralysing than it is useful in the name of fairness. The same can be said for our food choices.

For me, intermittent fasting allows my mind and body to focus on other aspects of my day. Intermittent fasting allows me to take out the obsession from my food choices. The results have been cleansing for my mind and for my body. I have felt the benefits so keenly that I am sometimes surprised to remember I haven’t always been this way. But I haven’t been. I have been the victim, and I don’t use that word lightly, of the food industry and the diet industry. Those industries that make us buy more and more, increasing our sugar, salt and fat intake to almost unrecognisable levels? Yep, those ones. They made me furious, so now I fast.

Intermittent fasting has been used for spiritual reasons throughout history. Lent in the Christian calendar and Ramadam in the Islamic calendar are periods where food intake is restricted and thought. Time put into meals is saved for other aspects of life, mostly thinking about those who are less fortunate than ourselves and how we can help them.

This fasting period removes the obsession from our food planning and frees up valuable brain space, allowing us to be more present and in the moment. We are not thinking about what we might need later. We can think about what we need now.

Again, I’m about to say next is entirely my own, very personal relationship with food. Still, I’ve found since fasting intermittently that my physical performance in things like sport has improved, my mind is clearer, I am less distracted, and I am a happier, healthier person.

I do not have “choice anxiety”. I know now what my body needs and how it performs best, with one healthy, well-balanced meal towards the end of the day, with snacks from about mid-day onwards. I usually eat within an 8-hour window, which is not uncommon with fellow fasters. Usually, I don’t eat before 12, but I make sure I stay hydrated. I have found clean eating to be one of the most significant changes I have made to my life. I encourage you to take the obsession out of your day and start listening to what your body needs. I have found that through fasting, I have become less obsessive, less distracted and less furious.

Thanks so much for reading my blog.