Do you struggle with knowing what to eat during intermittent fasting when you go out? This diet plan-where you alternate between periods of eating and fasting-has shown promising results for weight loss and health improvement.
Read on to learn some tips for what to eat, particularly in social situations with people who are not on the plan.
If you want to know what to eat during intermittent fasting, find a fasting plan that works for you, then experiment
While there are several different intermittent fasting plans, it takes some trial and error to find the right one for you. The 14/10 and the 16/8 are most common and popular because you naturally fast while sleeping (between 7-9 hours a night). By delaying or skipping breakfast, you simply stretch out the nighttime fasting hours for a more condensed daytime eating schedule.*
Common intermittent fasting plans defined
14/10: your eating window is between 10 am-8 pm
16/8: your eating window is between 12 pm-8 pm
One of the many benefits of intermittent fasting is that it encourages you to become aware of when you eat. You may snack or munch without even realizing it, leading to blood sugar spikes and weight gain. With intermittent fasting, you must really plan out when you will eat, making you more mindful of your eating habits. Experts say it takes a few weeks to get comfortable with an intermittent fasting plan. Take the time you need to find your rhythm, and then experiment with different ways to integrate your plan into social situations.
Consider a flexible eating window when you are socializing and trying to determine what to eat during intermittent fasting
For early morning engagements
Move back your eating window a bit earlier when you want to enjoy breakfast with friends or colleagues. This results in a longer eating window for the day, which will not ruin your plan. Then get back on track quickly by returning the following morning to your regularly scheduled eating window.
You may find it easier to skip eating in social situations that occur in the morning. Early morning meetings or breakfast plans tend to attract less attention to skipping a meal. Need something in your hands? Choose black coffee or plain tea.
For evening engagements
Perhaps you have dinner plans at 8, and your eating window typically ends at 6 pm? Shift your standard eating window by a few hours that day by breaking your fast a bit later. This allows you to eat a later dinner. Naturally, the next day your fasting window will be shorter. Return to your regularly scheduled eating window the following day.
If you value the social aspect of sharing a meal with others, make an effort to consistently schedule your meals with friends and family during your eating window. This ensures you can maintain your intermittent fasting plan and reach your weight-loss and health goals.
How to fill those long evenings-alternatives to eating when bored
One of the reasons that intermittent fasting helps with weight loss is because it eliminates evening snacking. The shift in this behavior alone produces weight loss. Give these tips a try to help you stick to your evening fast.
Brush, floss, and use mouthwash right after your meal. This habit shifts your mindset, making it easier to move on to non-food activities.
Consider which habits promote snacking. Do you find it harder to avoid snacking when watching Netflix vs. internet shopping? Pay attention to your habits and make an effort to limit or avoid those associated with mindless munching.
Need more ideas? Check out this blog post from MyNetDiary.
Find ways to socialize without food
Your social life may center around food and drink simply out of habit. Get creative and find different ways to connect with friends and family instead of focusing on what to eat during intermittent fasting. Consider these suggestions to get you started.
Meet a friend at a park instead of a restaurant or bar. Walking and talking is a great way to get in some exercise and catch up with a good friend at the same time.
Dust off the old yard games and have your family over for activities instead of gathering at a restaurant or having a potluck. The focus will be on the activity and conversation instead of the appetizers and entrees.
Tour the city and document the experience. Meet a friend or relative to explore a new neighborhood. Take your camera or phone and find new ways to capture the community where you live.
Join a book club. Whether it's virtual or in-person, a book club is a great way to get friends together and learn something new. A discussion with friends is emotionally rewarding and easier on the waistline!
Meet a friend or colleague for plain coffee or tea. Focus on the conversation and the person.
When starting any new eating plan, don't be afraid to ask for help
Do you find it uncomfortable to ask for help? Know that you are not alone. Many people find it challenging to ask for help. And yet, none of us nourish our bodies alone in a vacuum. We share the responsibility of meal planning, grocery shopping, food prep, and often eating with other people, making food a very social part of our lives.
You may find more rewards in intermittent fasting if you set yourself up for success and talk to your partner/spouse/family about your plan ahead of time. For example-
Set aside time to talk with your spouse/partner and explain your new eating plan, why it is important, what you are hoping to accomplish, and how it will impact family meals.
Guide your spouse or partner around how they can help you remain accountable to the new plan. It is often an evolving conversation as it is difficult to predict your needs when you are just getting started and figuring out how to make adjustments to any diet plan.
Address shifts in family meals ahead of time. If you are not eating breakfast with the family on the weekends, reassure them you will join them with water, tea, or coffee but eating your meal later in the morning.
Think about your priorities and adjust as needed. If you and your family dine together every Sunday after church outside your eating window, consider taking this day off from your intermittent fasting routine and start back up on Monday.
There are many benefits to losing weight and getting healthy. You may find that intermittent fasting is an eating plan that can help you accomplish these health goals.
At the end of the day, if you have to let your intermittent fasting schedule slide occasionally to share a meal with friends or family, so be it. Just get back to the program as soon as you can, and don't let this blip cause too much worry. Remember, it is all about progress, not perfection!
* Disclaimer: Intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating is not advised for individuals who are underweight, have an eating disorder, are under the age of 18, or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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