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06 Apr, 2021

Rosemary Ferguson on Fasting

"Within 3 days of eating very well, you can literally change how you feel completely. It can make a huge, huge difference." After a successful 15 years of modelling, being featured in campaigns for Miu Miu and Prada, Rosemary Ferguson made the decision to go back to college to study at The College of Naturopathic Medicine. She qualified as a naturopath and nutritionist in 2009 and now runs a clinic on Harley Street in London. Here we speak to her about the positives of fasting.

Health

I’m a big fasting fan, but it gets a really bad rap, because people use it as a tool to yo-yo diet. But it is a practice that has been used for thousands of years for good health. The human body is built to ‘feast and famine’ - but we are always in ‘feast’, we are really lucky and have an abundance of food, but it is actually quite good for us to sometimes not be ‘feasting’.

The reason that you fast, and the reason that you feel better when you fast, is because:

  1. You’re resting your digestive system, and digestion takes up to 50% of your energy every day, so that’s half your energy that you have every day that goes on digesting food. So, if you take that away, you’ve got that extra energy to use in other parts of the body;
  2. If you think about your microbiome, the gut flora needs a rest too sometimes. If you give it a rest, that gives the gut some time to sort out its bacteria;
  3. You’re not bogging your gut down with digesting difficult things like gluten, and so you get lighter in your head and you get more brain clarity, and so then you feel raring to go.

Your taste buds recycle every two weeks, so the minute you stop stimulating that sugar vice, your taste buds will naturally stop craving it. Which is another good reason to fast.

If your intention for fasting is about losing weight, you’re technically starving yourself - which is a totally different thing to fasting. Fasting is when you are giving your body a break.

There are two ways to fast:

  1. Intermittent fasting which so many people do now. There’s the 16:8 - essentially missing a meal in the morning or evening. You have an 8-hour window where you eat. This is to do with your insulin response, which is constantly firing in modern society, which is a large reason for why things like type 2 diabetes, feelings of being tired, holding weight around the middle, are so prevalent. If you fast for 16 hours of the day, your insulin response becomes more sensitive, so you operate better, your body deals with sugars better. You could also do the 5:2 which is 5 days per week, you eat a normal healthy diet, and then 2 days per week you eat a calorie restricted diet of around 500 kcals per day. The only issue is that some people then binge on things like burgers on the 5 days, which is missing the point. But the good thing about this is that it’s not all or nothing which you can incorporate into your life, which is really positive.
  2. Juice fasting or “liquid days” - not as extreme as a fast, I use this approach a lot in clinic. You can have quite a substantial smoothie with oats, as well as juices and broths. That in a day can be quite substantial. But the fact it is blended helps your gut to rest.

You have to find what works for you. And also, people get really rigid when they’re doing something, but you feel different every day, so don’t beat yourself up about it if you decide to switch your days.

I like to do a big fast for 6 days once a year and then I like to do liquid days once a week. If it’s your first time and you plan to fast for longer than 3 days, I advise you to go and do it with a professional.

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You can keep up with Rosemary over on her Instagram here.

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