Today, I am sharing the behind the scenes prep I always recommend before starting Intermittent Fasting. With a variable work schedule, and long shifts at the hospital, it’s best to be prepared and flexible!
So keep reading for the ‘secret prep work‘ I tell my friends and coworkers to do before they start IF.
Start here first! Set yourself up for success and try these tips today.
Step 1: First things first: Listen Up
It starts by listening. Really!
Shortly after starting IF, I realized I was having a hard time listening to my body. I had picked up little habits over the years that shaped my day whether I was at the hospital or not. My body wasn’t really the boss of when and how I did things. I wasn’t listening to it and just doing what I wanted.
For example: after waking up each morning, I’d have breakfast. Was I actually hungry? When I thought about it, no. But eating first thing in the morning was something I had done for years.
It was a habit I got into, just in case my shift got so busy I didn’t get a chance to eat. #ifyouknowyouknow
Spend some time figuring out what automatic habits you have. What do you do on ‘autopilot’ every day?
Make a conscious effort to tune into what your body is telling you. Are you thirsty? Hungry? Is last night’s dinner still sitting in your stomach?
Recognizing habits can be eye-opening and trying to de-program these automatic choices isn’t always easy. Knowing what you’re up against is half the battle.
Summary of Step 1: Tune into what your body is telling you.
Figure out your habits and rituals. When you discover one, write it down. As silly as it sounds, this will help you spot patterns more easily.
For example: Do you notice you feel full every morning, kinda like nothing digested from the previous night? That’s important.
Write down what you had for dinner, when you finished eating, and when you went to bed. This can help you spot trends like eating too much, eating too late, or consuming caffeine too close to bedtime.
You don’t need a super cute journal to track things. Don’t wait until you go out and buy a notebook for tracking.
You certainly could, but often these ‘minor’ delays are a way of self-sabotaging before you even get started.
Start tracking things today, without a cute notebook. Use some scrap paper or the notes section on your phone. The results will be the same and you can still buy a cute journal later.
Pro Tip: Spend at least one week tuning into your signals and writing everything down. Eat like you normally would.
Make notes about what you ate, how the meal made you feel, how you felt an hour after you ate, and how you were feeling right before your next meal.
Were you actually hungry? How hydrated were you? Any bloating or GI upset after a specific meal?
Then, adjust what you eat, or when, according to how you are feeling. Just keep making small tweaks and track how your body is responding.
Take your time: Recognizing patterns can sometimes take longer than a week. Just make sure give yourself time to slow down and listen to your body’s signals. It’s a great option to start on your day off or on a weekend, when you aren’t pressed for time.
It may seem silly, but don’t skip this step. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Understanding your body’s signals is something you’ll want to be tuned into, before you get started with IF.
Step 2: Pick a goal and then a plan.
There are a variety of goals you can accomplish through IF. De-bloating, restoring gut health, healing your liver, balancing hormones, losing fat, increasing energy, better sleep, etc. The list goes on.
Pick the most important thing you want, and focus on that first. Write down your #1 top goal.
Next, do a little research to find a plan that aligns with the results you want. Single goal-directed plans can ensure you see results. I suggest also choosing a plan that also includes dietary advice/food recommendations.
There’s SO much info online. It can be overwhelming and confusing. One plan says you can have this, the other plan says you can’t. You don’t need the headache or added stress of multiple plans.
For me, I picked a plan that covered food options and aligned with how I already like to eat. It made it easy to stick to just that. Try to make this process super simple because you’ll have the most success with something simple and straight-forward.
Beware of the internet deep dive: I realized when I tried to search for something online, invariably other IF plans came up, and often their recommendations directly contradicted my plan.
It was frustrating and hard to keep track of all the nuances and different approaches. I followed one plan as closely as I could and ignored everything else.
Summary of Step 2: Pick a goal, then one plan and stick to it.
Step 3: Prepare to change your eating, at least a little.
Truth time: If you want to see results and feel the benefits of IF, you do need to adapt your eating. Keep that in mind when choosing a plan (above).
Intermittent fasting is not as simple as just eating during a small window of time. It is also not an excuse to eat anything you want.
Please learn from my trial and error. As someone who initially ate whatever she wanted during her eating window, I can say it’s a quick path to strong sugar cravings and some unwanted weight gain.
I reset and restarted IF again, this time with clear goals: to decrease the amount of ‘junk’ my liver had to process, heal my GI issues (bloat city), and reduce sugar cravings.
I also have a massive sweet tooth and have a hard time saying no to carbs, especially at dinner, so I wanted to start with that first.
My advice is to find a plan that supports your top goal. There’s always time to add a second goal after you finish your first one.
I recommend following someone with a health or nutrition background if possible. Science-backed information about the how and why a plan works is important to me.
My science minded brain loves facts, so any plan based on research and not anecdotes would be a great fit. Find a plan that aligns with your goals whether they are to be low carb, cut out sugar, or just rely in intuitive eating.
Step 4: Dig into the details.
Regardless of what plan you choose, spend time reading the fine print before you get started. Check out the background and science behind it, so you understand how it can help you reach your goals.
It’s also good to familiarize yourself with meal recommendations too. If the plan has recipes I highly suggest doing some trial recipes.
Figure out what meals you want to make and bookmark the ones you love for later. Being excited about the food you will be eating during your eating window is key to sticking with it!
Step 5: Shopping trip.
Make a grocery list of all the ingredients you’ll need. Don’t forget about reusable containers or Tupperware/Pyrex to take your meals to work.
I store leftover and pre-made dishes in the fridge for ‘grab and go’ options throughout the week. It helps streamline my routine and ensures I’ve got nutritious options for my entire shift. There’s no excuse to run to the cafeteria.
Don’t forget ingredients for beverages too. If the plan recommends starting your day with a keto-style coffee, or apple cider vinegar drink, you’ll want put those ingredients on your grocery list too.
Step 6: Now for the fun part: Meal prep.
You’ve got the plan, recipes, groceries, and storage containers. Now, it’s meal prep time and set yourself up for success.
I usually meal prep on my day off when possible. I like to start by prepping larger, more involved dishes. Then just pre-portion them into storage containers and store in the fridge. Most dishes can last 4-5 days or longer in the refrigerator.
It’s not realistic for me to try and prep every meal, so while a larger dish is cooking, I’ll prep individual ingredients for the week. I chop veggies, pre cook potatoes and meat (or tofu) and hard boil eggs for easy options.
Salads are another easy item. Just be sure to store the salad dressing separately, otherwise, you’ll end up with a soggy mess.
The goal is to have healthy options on hand, because inevitably you’ll come home from work and be too exhausted to cook. We’ve all been there right?! By prepping ahead, you give yourself healthy options to choose from, instead of drive-thru or ordering takeout.
Stick with it.
In the beginning, it takes a little longer to meal prep. Once you’ve done it a couple of times, I promise it goes much faster.
Alternately, if you don’t want to meal plan or prep, you can consider a meal delivery service. My go-to meal delivery service is Sakara Nutrition.
Why Sakara? Each meal and product is backed by solid nutrition science and traditional healing. Dishes are designed to give your body what it needs to thrive and to ensure peak nutrition. So you can feel confident you body is getting what it needs during your eating window.
All ingredients are sourced from trusted suppliers and organic farms that use healthy, sustainable agriculture practices. Each dish is flavorful, inspired, and nourishing. Crafted with love and care, and in sustainable, recyclable packaging to be kind to your body and the environment too!
Get started with Sakara meal delivery by clicking the image below. Be sure to use my code xoDEE for 20% off your order!
Now it’s your turn!!
Woo hoo!! You are prepped and ready to roll out of bed Monday morning to start your intermittent fasting journey! No more hesitation or wondering how to start! If you need some encouragement or entertainment when starting out, you can read the details of my first week HERE.
If you’ve still got questions about your IF journey, check out this convenient 8 page PDF download designed to answer the most common questions I’ve been asked about Intermittent Fasting!
I hope these tips are helpful and give you a jump-start toward your goals!