Hey Bookish People,
I’m going to talk about a topic today that I feel might be controversial and before I begin I am giving this disclaimer:
This post is about my own personal experiences with creativity and intermittent fasting. I am not a doctor and this is in no way medical advice. For those with a history of eating disorders this post might be triggering and I recommend that you checking back to the blog another day. Please see your doctor for any questions about your health and the suitability of any diet. Seriously, talk to a professional who went to school for this, not someone on the internet.
Ok. Glad that that’s out of the way. Now let me tell you about how intermittent fasting has impacted my creative experience.
My initial interest in fasting came from listening to Tim Ferris’s podcast but the guests I recall discussing it sounded entirely too intense for me. I like food. A lot. I had zero desire to fast for a whole day or weeks as his guests suggested even though it sounded like there were some benefits.
Cut to several months ago, while editing my little heart out, when my roommate casually mentioned (for like the 10th time) that he did intermittent fasting. I had read about it years ago but that thought had gotten lost in the chaos that was grad school. For some reason this reminder was the one that spurred my interest and like any curious person I dove into research on the topic. After a few days of reading I decided to give it a try to see if it might help curb some of my worst eating habits.
I went with a fairly large eating window between 11:30am and 7:30pm. This wasn’t that hard considering I wasn’t eating until much later in the morning on my run days (check out my morning schedule here). This means that I only drink water, tea, or black coffee between 7:30 pm until 11:30am the next day. Despite the first couple weeks being mildly annoying it was a lot easier to adjust to not eating breakfast than I thought. I also am not a huge fan of healthy breakfast items so this was kind of a relief (I am forever thankful that I no longer have to eat oatmeal).
I decided to try intermittent fasting partially for vanity but I was also curious to see how it would impact my mornings. As I’ve mentioned before I’m a morning person so my best creative hours are before noon. The problem was that as soon as I ate breakfast my brain felt like it slowed down considerably and my ability to focus was lower. I would eat breakfast around 8am on some days but not until close to 11:30am on run days and found that I could work much more efficiently with a delayed breakfast. So, the idea of intermittent fasting was an intriguing one.
I noticed an improvement in my mental clarity almost immediately. Honestly, I wish I had done it the year that I wrote a million words because I feel like it would have helped my ability to get things done earlier in the day. Not only was I not having to take a break in the morning for a meal I wasn’t excited about but I could also zip through my tasks with ease. I feel especially focused after 10am. I have been doing intermittent fasting for about three months now and I do all of my best creative work before my first meal.
Why does it work this way? From my research on the topic it sounds like our mental abilities are sharpened by an empty stomach. Having your body shut down when you’re hungry wouldn’t have served us well when we had to hunt for our food. Instead we’ve adapted to have sharper senses and a keener mind when our stomaches are empty in order to help us seek out food. I feel like my creative efficiency has really increased. By the time noon rolls around I’ve gotten done what would have taken me all day.
I also just like the convenience of not feeling ruled by my stomach all the time. My eating window varies a lot more now that I’m used to the practice. Yesterday I had to eat by 11:00am to make an appointment but I also know that I will be fine if I delay breaking my fast until 2 or 3. I have a lot more control over my own schedule when it’s not ruled by meal times.
Now, I mentioned above that I am not an expert and I can imagine that this routine doesn’t work for everyone but it works wonderfully for me. There are some particularly unfortunate potential side effects for women who get too intense with their intermittent fasting so I’m always checking in with myself to make sure it’s still the right choice.
If you’d like more information about how to intermittent fast then there are tons of resources out there. Just please me mindful of your health, mental health, and knowing what’s right for you. Take care of yourselves!
I’m curious to know if anyone else out there uses intermittent fasting as a tool for their creativity. Please do leave me a comment and let me know about your experiences. I know this is kind of off the path my blog usually takes so I can see it not being for everyone but we’ll be back to normal tomorrow!
Don’t forget to follow the blog to see tomorrow’s weekly update on how my Instagram account is doing after my weekly experiment.