I started fasting after seeing a Horizon programme on television during the London Olympics. What attracted me to it was twofold: there seemed to be some interesting research about the health benefits, as in longer life, better immunity, etc, and, of course, it was supposed to really help you to lose weight. I started it the very next day, and have never looked back. I lost two and a half stone within three months and I have pretty much kept a constant weight since then.
Unlike most diets, you can actually have all the things you love, only every other day. I know most people do 5:2 but I do 1:1. On my "fast" days I have 600 calories (normally soup – I eat a lot of soup) and on the "eat" days … well, I have pretty much everything I want. I have very strong willpower, but only for short periods, so the knowledge that I have to get through only to the next day is what keeps me going. The weird thing is that, although on the fasting day I dream about all the things I am going to have the following day, when I wake up, I have a normal level of hunger and don't tend to overcompensate for the previous day.
I've come to rather enjoy the fasting days. For breakfast, I normally have a small amount of Greek yoghurt, some granola and za'atar sprinkled on top. I always have a black coffee. For variety, I might have a poached egg or a small bowl of healthy muesli.
For lunch, I tend to have soup. This is quite filling and as long as you choose one that is not cream-based, it is low in calories. I like spicy soups that feel hearty and filling – I add loads of black pepper and fresh lime juice.
For dinner, I tend to make a big bowl of steamed vegetables. I also drink a lot of water, which fills you up and is also very good for you.
I think fasting particularly appeals to men, as it's an all-or-nothing experience. I go from one day where I feel very virtuous about my self-restraint, to the next day when I can have a guilt-free pig-out, should I fancy it.
On any other diet, however effective it is and however disciplined you are, there is always the knowledge that you can't live like that all the time and that you're going to return to your normal eating habits once the diet is "over". With fasting, I pretty much carry on forever, as it suits me.
I have got a little less strict so that, if I'm going out socially on one of the fast days, I'll just switch the days around or even drop a day. In the early days, I was far more disciplined, but now I'm pretty relaxed with it. You have to watch this a bit as you can tend to slide into dropping quite a few days (there's always an excuse), but I find it pretty easy to get back on to the 1:1 if I lapse too much.
Overall, I feel a whole lot better. I'm happy that I shed the weight, and I feel generally fitter and in far better shape. I go walking with my dogs for about two hours a day when I'm at home.