Winning the Mind Game [Data Driven Fasting FAQ Part 6]

The ultimate goal Data-Driven Fasting is to guide you to understand your true hunger signals and get to know Lizzy.  

Not only will you learn to tame it by giving it what it wants when it needs it, but you will also learn to listen to it and trust your appetite signals and respond more appropriately. 

6.1 Quantified Mindful Eating

If you want to leverage the benefits of the Data-Driven Fasting process, you can make notes in the DDF app to record what you are learning and incorporate it into your future routine. 

By reflecting on your physical sensations of hunger, you will start to learn what your body is trying to tell you.  Once you learn to decipher the messages Lizzy is giving you, you will no longer need to rely on your glucose meter to guide want and when you eat. 

When you feel hungry and think of eating, rate your hunger. Then, take a moment to imagine what your blood glucose might be if you tested it based on your physical symptoms of hunger (e.g., grumbling tummy, weakness, light-headedness, etc.). 

The most common symptoms of hunger include:

  • rumbling/growling stomach,
  • feeling food focussed,
  • feeling mentally fatigued or not being able to think straight, or
  • feeling lightheaded. 

Some of the more extreme symptoms of hunger can include:

  • nausea,
  • headaches,
  • feeling cold, tired or lethargic, and
  • not sleeping well. 

Before you eat, you want to be hungry but not starving to the point that you binge.  After you eat, you should feel full and satisfied, but not completely stuffed.    

Reflecting on your hunger signals and calibrating them with your need for food is a central component of Hunger Training. In the DDF app, you can rate how hungry you feel on a scale of 1 – 5 (not hungry to extremely hungry) before recording your blood sugar. 

Before long, you will understand the factors that can influence your blood glucose (e.g., exercise, stress, and hormonal changes).  If you are hungry and your blood glucose is below your Personalised Trigger, go ahead and eat. There is no need to be a hero! If you are not overly hungry, you are less likely to overeat and more likely to make better food choices. 

6.2 The Psychological Impacts of Data-Driven Fasting

The ultimate goal of Data-Driven Fasting is to become more attuned to your hunger signals.  

While testing your blood glucose may sound like a hassle, a tiny amount of pain and inconvenience from blood glucose tracking is not such a bad thing. It forces you to be more mindful and question whether you need to eat. It also interrupts habitual mindless eating and adds a quantitative check to see if you need to refuel. 

While many people find that calorie counting harms their mental health, Data-Driven Fasting helps you feel empowered and puts you in control of your hunger and appetite with a precise fuel gauge. 

A little bit of measurement gamifies the intermittent fasting process as you wait for the green light on your blood glucose meter.  There is a little bit of luck because of the many factors that affect blood glucose and a bit of skill involved with juggling your eating routine and food choices. However, aside from looking and feeling great, the grand prize is excellent metabolic health. 

6.3 Hunger Is Not the Enemy

With Data-Driven Fasting, your goal is to become more acquainted with your hunger rather than fear or ignore it. 

You will grow to understand your hunger by giving it some attention until you understand it, and it will become your friend. While extended fasting can lead to dysregulated hunger signals, Data-Driven Fasting helps you better understand your true hunger.  We want you to make friends with your inner lizard brain in time. 

As your blood glucose stabilises, your body will become more comfortable with a small amount of hunger.  Soon, that little bit of hunger will no longer be uncomfortable.  You will ‘train’ your appetite and hunger as your body becomes comfortable with a lower energy level in your bloodstream because it has learned to trust that you will regularly provide it with quality food.

6.4 Progress Over Perfection

Remember, your goal should always be progress, not perfection!  You don’t have to be militant about not eating if your blood glucose isn’t dropping and you feel ravenous.  You only have to log premeal blood sugars below your trigger more often than not to make progress.    

If you have a bad day, that’s OK. You don’t need to beat yourself up over it. You will always learn something if you pay attention to how your blood sugars. Your blood sugars and the DDF App will give you a clear direction on what you need to do to catch up.  

The goal of Data-Driven Fasting is to be below your trigger more often than not before you eat. If your blood glucose is slightly above your trigger and you’re ravenously hungry, then don’t be afraid to eat.  

Your glucometer is a tool to empower you with knowledge about whether you need to refuel, not to make you feel like a failure or wracked with guilt.  Using your blood glucose as a fuel gauge tells you if your hunger is real and you need to refuel. The process will be more sustainable if you don’t lose your mind trying to be perfect in the first few days and weeks. 

You should approach this as a curious student, eager to learn how your body responds to food. Data-Driven Fasting will help you realise the impact of those ‘bad days’.  Before long, the ‘bad days’ will become less frequent. You will learn that overeating and poor food choices will have a downside in the future, so you will learn to moderate your meals today.

Feel free to take a break if you feel you are becoming obsessive or the process is consuming too much time or mental energy.  While some people love quantifying everything, others can quickly become overwhelmed. We have designed Data-Driven Fasting to minimise the cognitive load as much as possible to maximise sustainability so you can keep going until you reach your goal. 

If you feel ravenous, grumpy, light-headed, cold, you can’t think straight, you have a report due or an important meeting to attend, don’t be afraid to eat. You can always catch up later.  Your blood glucose will guide you, so you don’t need to stress. 

6.5 Three Steps Forward, One Step Back

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself ‘backsliding’ occasionally.  Weight loss is rarely a linear process. It’s also natural to follow a fasting and feasting cycle that ebbs and flows with the varying needs of your body.

It’s normal and healthy to want to eat more sometimes, especially if you have been restricting a little too much. It may take a few days to get back to where you were, but you should be able to deplete your glucose stores more quickly than last time because you have already burned off some excess fat. 

If you find yourself particularly hungry, there is no need to be ashamed of eating to satiety. However, you will iron out the bumps in your routine and ensure a long-term trend towards your goals as you follow the guidance of your premeal trigger.

6.6 Follow the Trend, Ignore The Noise

As you start tracking, you will quickly learn that biometrics like weight, blood sugar and body fat can bounce around from day to day.  This noise can be confusing, so try to stay focussed on the long-term trends.

While there may be many day-to-day variabilities, you should see a long-term trend as you wait for your blood glucose to drop below trigger. As blood glucose decreases, weight and body fat will follow. 

While it’s helpful to track body fat to ensure you’re losing fat and not precious lean muscle mass, you should be aware that body fat data can be even noisier. But, as you chase a lower pre-meal trigger by delaying or skipping meals, you will see your weight and body fat trend down. 

Try to follow the recommendations given by the DDF app without overthinking the process.  Accept that there will be some days when the data doesn’t go your way for no apparent reason. You are free to use your brain to decide whether you need to eat even if your blood glucose is above your trigger. 

6.7 Fasting Can Be Stressful

A little bit of stress can be beneficial (i.e., hormesis or eustress).  While your body likes consistency and routine, complete stagnation and monotony lead to weakness and atrophy. So, you need some stress to grow, but not so much you break.  

For millennia, the four seasons (e.g., autumn, winter, spring and summer) forced our bodies to go through periods where different amounts and types of food were available, thus forcing us through natural bulking and cutting phases.  Any good workout routine involves periods of progressive overload interspersed with rest and recovery. 

Too much stress beyond the point that we can adapt and recover (i.e., distress) is not good and forces our survival instincts to take evasive action.  Data-Driven Fasting ensures our eating routine is punctuated by just enough stress to keep our body moving toward our goals.   

6.8 What If I ‘Fall Off the DDF Wagon’?  How Do I Get Back On? 

Most of us can’t help swinging to extremes, from exuberance to disappointment.

We desperately want to make progress, so we push hard with ambitious hopes of overnight success.  But then, our survival instincts kick in, and we can end up rebound bingeing. Afterwards, our initial instinct is to go even harder with more resolve and willpower, driven by guilt and renewed determination. But even that only lasts for so long before Lizzie kicks in again.

If you want to get off this all too familiar restrict-binge cycle, it’s better not to punish yourself after you ‘fall off the wagon’.  Just get back to chasing your trigger. 

If your glucose is above your trigger for a few days, you know you have plenty of fuel onboard and only require nutrients and can simply prioritise protein and nutrients. If possible, try to have one less meal than usual each day you remain above your trigger until you catch up to your trigger again. 

6.9 DDF May Test Your Emotional Resolve

Because it was important to run away from lions and other dangers in the past, we tend to weigh negative data more than the positive.  Sometimes negative data drives us to feel like a failure, so we try harder and fail harder when Lizzy rebels and has to step in to keep us alive.

The good news is, eventually, with a bit of community support and self-love, most of us learn to relax.  Any significant achievement is usually built from a culmination of small positive actions.  Eventually, as you persist and push through the frustration, you will learn to trust the process and chip away at the small changes that lead to big wins in the long term.

6.10 DDF and Dopamine Fasting

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter released to drive us to action and want to do something.  It’s fundamental to our survival to ensure we eat, learn, have fun and reproduce.  We feel good when we elevate our dopamine levels.  We become focussed and driven to take action. 

In recent times, we have created a range of novel ways to continually keep dopamine elevated, with endless social media, caffeine, drugs, porn, YouTube, Netflix and engineered hyperpalatable comfort foods. 

But regardless of how many dopamine-inducing things you inject into your life, your body continually works to find balance.  Your hypothalamus cannot continue to secrete infinite amounts of dopamine.  Eventually, the things that bought you pleasure will no longer bring you as much pleasure, and you will find pain and discontent in new areas of your life that were once fine. This is because you have moved your dopamine (or hedonic) set point. 

Dopamine also drives us to seek our food.  This is fundamentally a good thing.  Without dopamine, we would starve and forget to reproduce. 

Food with energy from fat stimulates dopamine because your body needs it.  Similarly, foods with energy from carbs also stimulate a healthy level of dopamine.  But our modern food system has designed foods that combine fat and carbs in a way that stimulates more dopamine than any food in nature ever did before, so we eat more of these foods. 

We can also use these ‘comfort foods’ to elevate dopamine to alleviate sadness and low dopamine created in other areas of our life.  The reality is, sometimes we need to work on those areas rather than turning to food for comfort.  Or perhaps we’re just so overstimulated by everything that nothing stimulates us anymore, including quality food?

Data-Driven Fasting leverages the power of dopamine in our life by gamifying the fasting process.  You get a positive dopamine hit when you see a great number on your glucose meter and get a reaffirming message from the Data-Driven Fasting app.  You can become motivated to improve the numbers that will fundamentally improve your health.  But at the same time, by delaying your meal just a little, you are resetting your dopamine levels and re-sensitising your dopamine receptors rather than always treating your dopamine deficit with food. 

When you eat all the time mindlessly, food stops tasting as good.  But once you learn to wait until you need to eat, food will start to taste good again, especially the food that is good for you because it contains the nutrients you require to thrive. You will no longer need to consume foods designed to overdrive dopamine, and you will be able to stop when you’ve had enough. 

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