My thoughts on the 5:2 diet

At the start of a new year most women want to make in roads into improving their health. And who doesn't want to get fitter, lose weight,  exercise more, eat the right things. For others will this be the year that you quit smoking or cut down on alcohol?

Although many of our resolutions will flounder what is good about this time of year is that, at least for the time being, some of our attention is focused on the areas of our life where health improvements are required. For most older women the number one health  issue is our weight and what we eat.

In the last few days, here in the UK, there's been some press coverage recently about the 5:2 diet.

For those who don't know, the 5:2 diet is a diet plan where you fast for 2 non consecutive days a week. Then, for the rest of the week,  eat what you like. Does that mean binging on chips and chocolate, or  cup cakes  and cola?

The 5:2 diet is similar to the DODO diet (one day on, one day off) which has some high profile celebrity followers that has got everyone talking. Comparisons has been made between  celebrities on this DODO/5:2 thing and medieval monks. That's ludicrous! These monks led harsh, celibate  lives; often living in isolation. Fasting was practised within the framework of an austere asceticism and self denial, that was a way to transcend the comforts of life and curb their excesses.  I suspect a far cry from Beyonce's life!

I've previously written about the role of fasting and health  and the many  benefits of doing an apple detox. At a psychological level fasting has made me more grounded and appreciative of food. It's also a great way to give your body an energy boost that can last several days. Apart from cleansing and rejuvenating the body, fasting also seems to curb the appetite and in that sense is empowering. For me that's the important bit.

I don't know whether fasting helps with weight loss or not. It may well do. That's not my concern. My main problem with the 5:2 or DODO approach is that it seems to promote  an unhealthy relationship with food. Food is there to be loved and appreciated.  Also,  how can it be sustained? Fasting for one day a month, when you have a day off chilling out, is one thing. However, I fail to see how anyone can get by on 500 calories a day (equivalent to a bowl of soup) and incorporate this into a busy life-style, week-in week out.

It seems to me that the 5:2 diet is chosen by some out of desperation. Maybe it's also perceived as a way that you might be able to have your cake and eat it.  I don't know. The psychology of eating is complex. What I do know though is that women are natural nurturers - a really powerful and primal force, which needs to be harnessed.

I can't help thinking that a woman's energies would be best served by  engaging with and developing  a greater sense of gratitude for the privilege of good food. Ultimately, for me, part of the well being recipe is about being mindful and making healthy food choices.  Rather than a binge-drinking type approach to eating.

If  you're interested in the psychology of eating this is a site well worth exploring.

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