Friday, 4 January 2013

5:2 diet: What you can (and what you shouldn’t really) eat on a ‘feed’ day

The theory of the 5:2 or ‘fast’ diet - and what sells it to those of us greedy mortals who habitually struggle with their weight - is that you can eat anything you like on the 5 days you don’t fast.

Obviously it’s not quite like that. If you made up for the calories you’d missed the preceding fast day by pigging out on giant pizzas, outsize cheeseburgers and triple-cooked chips - or even multi-course Michelin-starred meals - you might still lose a bit but it wouldn’t do your health much good.

On the other hand nothing is actually out of bounds. Not pasta, not cake, not cheese, not wine, not all the delicious things you fantasise about on a fast day. I’ve eaten fried chicken and tantanmen ramen  (above at Bone Daddies) on a feast day - a term I prefer to the somewhat pedestrian 'feed' day - and haven’t put on a pound.

You need to read Dr Michael Mosley’s* book which I’ve reviewed here to understand why this is. But the book also contains a startling and slightly unwelcome revelation - that Mosley normally skips lunch on a non-fasting day. (Pause while you absorb this . . . No Lunch)

Maybe he’s been doing it long enough for such an extended period without food to become the norm but it wouldn't do for me. On the other hand since I started the diet just under six weeks ago my appetite has undoubtedly reduced. If I go out to lunch I generally don’t want to eat again. That doesn’t obviously mean I don’t. But I needn’t.

So how do I deal with feast days? I’ve evolved a simple formula. One thing less. Meaning I try and ditch one element of the meal that I would previously have eaten - or drunk. So no bread before the meal starts. No second helpings. One biscuit instead of two. One or (let's be honest) two glasses of wine instead of three or four. A little less salad dressing than I used to use. Well, that's the aim anyway. You get the picture.

I never had a hugely sweet tooth so desserts are not a problem. Unless I need to taste them out of politeness (at someone’s house) or for professional reasons (reviewing a restaurant) I don’t have them. But I could if I wanted to and that’s why this diet works.

But probably the most useful thing I’ve learnt is DON’T EAT WHEN YOU’RE NOT HUNGRY. Simple but it comes as a revelation.  

How do you deal with feast days, fellow 5:2 fasters?

* Dr Mosley being the clever guy who invented the diet.


Me said...

I saw this fella on BBC Breakfast and have ordered the book, so will be following this from next week.

Oh, and happy new year Fiona!

Lynne Clark said...

I hardly ever have lunch either, fast or feast days. Hasn't stopped me from getting fat mind you....

Fiona Beckett said...

Let me know how you get on, Me. And a HNY to you too!

I do admire that, Lynne. Just love the midday break even if only a sandwich or eggs on toast.

Kate Harrison said...

Hi Fiona,
Great post - followed it from your review of Michael's book.

I've found I'm less likely to want breakfast now even on Feast days but will tend towards a really good brunch or lunch, and a great dinner too. Plus the odd biscuit. But it's far less likely to be 4 or 5 biscuits as it was before!

I'm feasting today with a meal booked tonight at a new restaurant. Can't wait!
Kate x

fiona maclean said...

hehehe, I've also had the same tantamen ramen...very delish! I actually couldn't finish it, though that might have been because of the large portion of soft shelled crab I had to start.

In general, I am more aware of what I eat when I go out (which is a lot!). And, at home I definitely have small portions on normal days (and bizarrely seem to drink less too!)

Fiona Beckett said...

I actually ground to a complete halt on New Year's Eve, only managing to get a third of a way through my main course (unheard of). So I think you feel much more quickly. A Good Thing.