Extended Periods of Fasting to Lose Weight

By September 27, 2012

Where do I begin? I am 38 years old and have been struggling for a long time. Most people think eating disorders are limited to very young girls or girls in their twenties. This is certainly not the case. I’ve gone through many stages…..overeating for many years, losing weight, regaining, getting very thin, fasting for extended periods of time. Right now I’ve been fasting for 9 days…..just Diet Pepsi, water, Crystal Light and sugarless gum. I get very agitated when people are always asking me to go to lunch at work and functions outside of work that include food. I’m very blessed that I have many friends and family that want to be with me and spend time with me and love me, but I almost get angry that they ask me all the time. I’ve never put any of this in writing. It sounds so bizarre as I’m writing this. I’m a bright, independent woman who loves to have fun and has high morals and values, so it seems insane that I could have this problem. I keep putting off getting together with people because most times food is involved or I don’t feel confident with my body at that given time. Honestly, it is exhausting to live like this. But, there is a part of me that doesn’t want to give this up. I know it is crazy. Fasting gives me tremendous power. I love to hear my stomach grumbling, etc. Bottom line, I know it isn’t power….it’s just the opposite. I hope you have some thoughts for me. Even if you can’t respond, it felt good to actually write this. Thank you… Di

Dear Di:

First of all, I’m so glad you point out the fact that more than young girls struggle with this issue. I receive many more emails from people in their 30s and 40s than I do from teenagers or those in their early twenties. I even receive emails and feedback from people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s! This issue truly seems to lie under the surface for so many people who end up feeling weird, misunderstood and alone. But you are most definitely in very good company, as studies show that as many as ¾’s of women feel fat, and over 34 million Americans are chronic dieters, with another 10 million reported to struggle with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.

That said, your struggle is definitely one that deserves a listening ear, and a helpful guide toward healing. Like you, I prided myself on being independent and smart. And, like you, I got to the point in my disordered eating that I avoided social occasions because I wasn’t sure how I would handle myself around food. Would I eat too much? Would other people notice what I ate? Most of the time, I was simply too drained for social functions, as the minute-by-minute obsessing took so much of my time and energy. Today, I no longer live a slave to these things, and if I can break free, I know you can too.

On the issue of fasting – the primary problem here is that fasting only makes disordered eaters more obsessive. You are also making it difficult for your metabolism to work properly, as your body goes into “starvation mode” during such extended fasts, and goes to any food source it can find, including your muscle tissue. This may lead to weight loss, but it’s not the right kind of loss. Bottom line, you need food to function well, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. And if you can find your way toward a more balanced meal plan, I promise you’ll begin to feel better about yourself.

I encourage you to consider finding someone to talk with. Read the article “Finding Treatment” for guidance. You are not weird, bizarre, or stupid for living this way, but there is definitely a better way to go.

Blessings on your journey,