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Is Fasting For You? Or Not.

May 14, 2020

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These days, everyone has an opinion about food so I was interested in two recent articles I came across: one in Bazaar and another in the Weekend Financial Times.

Photo by Rachel Park on Unsplash

In the magazine the headline reads: “Silicon Valley’s Dangerous New Obsession to Get Sharper and More Focused At Work” – this is followed by a subhead stating: Proponents of extreme fasting and other biohacks believe that it makes them smarter and more productive. But is it safe?

Of course, the minute I wrote “biohack” Mr. Mac woke up and turned red. Then screamed: What!? To explain: a biohack is a do-it-yourself person who makes small diet or lifestyle changes for their health or wellbeing.

This article by Alex Kuczynski appeared in the September 2019 issue and starts by describing the eating habits of Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter who says, “I’ve been playing with fasting for some time.” Some days he subsists only on water. This brought a white-hot response from a female reader and author who wrote, “I don’t give a ____ about your diet, Jack. When teenage girls do it, it’s a _______ disorder, and when rich, white guys do it’s still a _______ disorder. (I had to delete all the potty prose or my little Canon printer would go on strike – my big, powerful HP printer never cared what I wrote. But it expired from overwork.)

The author describes her morning regimens over the years: lemons/cayenne in hot water, then aloe vera juice (made from the leaf of the aloe vera plant) and now, “Like the rest of the 10 million people in LA, I drink 16 ounces of celery juice on an empty stomach every morning. If all goes well, I will soon bematching my life to my vision board.”

This scary phenomenon even has a shiny, new name: biohacking and Outside magazine has basically become the biohacking bible. There are tech titans who boast about how they no longer need a kitchen. All this noise comes down to this: Silicon Valley is mostly a masculine enclave and they’ve learned to disguise dieting as a quest for increased efficiency, physical health and intellectual clarity. Of course, a lot of what Silicon Valley does is rebranded from what folks did back in the ‘80s. There’s a lot of questionable science at work in the wellness industry. Living on a liquid diet – or fasting most of the time – raises many questions.

NOW LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT THE 2ND ARTICLE

This piece appeared on 2/8-9/20 and what caught my eye was the headline, “Goodbye clean eating. Bread is back.” When did it leave? I missed that memo. Remember Super Storm Sandy when it hit New York City on October 29, 2012 and flooded basements, stopped the subway and left us with no electricity for an entire week? We had a warning that it was coming and every time I turned around, someone said to me, “Don’t forget to buy bread and milk.” I didn’t forget those two items, but I forgot extra batteries and candleholders. That’s right: lots of candles but no holders.

The columnist, Madison Darbyshire, has expertly crafted a fascinating survey of foods in-and-out of fashion. She begins with “Women (and some men) are still petrified of real sugar. And, I pity those who suffered through years of egg-white omelets when cholesterol was the demon du jour.”

“A dangerous allergen for some, but an unfortunate diet trend for many more, gluten was just the tip of the iceberg. During the past 10 years ‘elimination diets’ proliferated: everyone cleansed, everyone detoxed. Food became a minefield and dinner parties a nightmare.”

This fad was called “clean eating” and it helped make food the biggest sector in the wellness industry. Juice cleanses promised to rid your body of toxins you didn’t know you had. “But,” Darbyshire writes, “I have sensed a profound shift recently. Clean eating is out of fashion; bread is cool again.”

She ends on this note, “If the world is warming and continents are ablaze with wildfires who has the energy to care about carbs? However, I am optimistic about one dietary trend from the 1990s that’s gaining ground: it’s called intuitive eating which means: eat what you want when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full – like you did as a child.” Love it! CLICK HERE TO READ OUR BLOG ON HEALTHY EATING.

Shaun Nelson-Henrick


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