Animals usually stop eating when they are full. But not us human beings - we love to eat. There is a kind of pleasure in eating that makes most of us follow the motto: “live to eat” instead of “eat to live”. However, have you ever wondered if you were feeding your body properly?

There are many reasons that lead us to put into question our eating habits, the most common seems to be weight loss, but there are others, namely, health problems or even environmental reasons.

As we all know, overeating is part of the routine of a large part of the Western population, but the fight against this fast food culture is also increasingly popular. Furthermore, fasting stands out as a new trend that seems to have positive effects in terms of detoxifying all the junk food we eat. On the other hand, there are those who believe that eating intuitively is enough to lead a healthy life.

Abstaining from eating

Fasting occurs when a person voluntarily goes without food for a certain period of time, depending on the type of fasting being followed. In addition, fasting leads to cell rejuvenation and may even help in the treatment of diseases.

Although some groups of people should not fast, such as people with certain illnesses or children, there are many studies that reveal the benefits of fasting for healthy adults, such as a reduction in blood glucose, an increase in physical and emotional well-being, and weight loss.

These were the points supported by scientific research that studied safety, health and well-being during a fasting period of four to 21 days following the classic Buchinger method, in which people must avoid solid foods but still ingest tea, juices and water.

The study, which collected information over a year from 1,422 participants (41 percent male, 59 percent female), revealed the beneficial effects on health and well-being of periodic fasting, such as, weight loss and reduced of abdominal perimeter as well as improved diabetes parameters such as blood sugar and HbA1c, thus improving many factors that contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system.

However there were also side effects mentioned regarding fasting, such as restless sleep, headaches, tiredness or lumbar spine pains, which the researchers claim that with medical monitoring can be "easily treated without interruption of fasting".

An interesting point mentioned in the study is that 93 percent of the subjects did not feel hungry during fasting, which not only contributed to their well-being, but also to their compliance, pointed out the study.

In addition, fasting on a regular basis seems to fight inflammation, promote blood sugar control, increase brain function, and delay aging.

The power of Intuitive eating

Intuitive eating is a very simple concept. Basically, there are no “good” or “bad” foods - you should eat everything your body asks for. In other words, it requires you to start listening to your body and eating what feels right for you and how much you really need.

This doesn't mean that you can eat what you want, whenever you want, without being aware of it. Eating intuitively is using your body's natural ability to tell you when you're hungry or satisfied, rather than just eating to adhere to a specific diet or social schedule.

For example, babies cry when they are hungry and stop eating when they feel full. For adults this is much more complicated, as many of us eat much more than our bellies call for, or on the contrary, we go for long periods without eating and, after so many hours, eating a bag of crisps seems the most appetising option. In intuitive eating, people try to tune into their bodily needs and signals.

Indeed, many of the benefits attributed to fasting have also been associated with intuitive eating. However, along with fasting, intuitive eating is not for everyone. Nutritionists suggest that - for those trying to lose weight or gain weight - this flexible way of looking at food may not lead to the expected outcome.

On the other hand, intuitive eating goes very well with a healthy lifestyle and a conscious and responsible life. And it can even work with fasting.

From an intuitive eating point of view, rather than following a strict fasting program, you can do it whenever your body gives this signal. For example, after the Christmas season when you overeat, you may feel that you need to stop and help your digestive system take a break. In this circumstance, fasting for a day or two just until you feel better again can be almost intuitive for you.

If that fits your individual's body needs, why not? After all, what is healthy for one person may not be healthy for another.


Paula Martins is a fully qualified journalist, who finds writing a means of self-expression. She studied Journalism and Communication at University of Coimbra and recently Law in the Algarve. Press card: 8252

Paula Martins