Intermittent Fasting for Moms: How to Make Fasting Work with a Family

Intermittent fasting is for moms. Having a family is my reason for trying intermittent fasting, not my excuse.

When I first experimented with fasting and started researching four years ago, I was frustrated by the lack of information for women, especially moms.

Fasting seemed so far-fetched to me. How was I supposed to not eat when I make 3 meals a day for my kids plus snacks?

We all know the reasons why it can’t work, or why fasting is challenging for moms. Let’s explore, instead, how it could work.

Fasting in Uncertainty

There is a lot of uncertainty in our lives right now as parents. School is uncertain. Extracurriculars are uncertain. The health and risk of exposure for our loved ones is uncertain. We can’t control what is going to happen.

Despite all this, there is something that was can do for our health. When the day gets busy and I don’t meal plan, exercise or meditate, I know that I can always stick to my eating window and that alone offers health benefits.

We can control what, how much, and when we eat. Intermittent fasting is all about using “when” we eat as a tool.

I should acknowledge that fasting is a type of stressor, in the same way that exercise is a stressor. It stresses the body’s cells to help make them more resilient. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

Now isn’t the time to jump into a prolonged fast or choosing an eating window that isn’t conducive to your lifestyle.

If you are wanting to experiment with fasting, a good starting point is a 12-hour overnight fast. Then, compress your eating window from there.

Intermittent Fasting for Moms

Why should moms care about intermittent fasting?

Because fasting is a solution to help promote good health without having to add one more thing to your to-do list.

Research shows that regular, overnight fasts of at least 13 hours reduced breast cancer recurrence in women by nearly a third.

If you can close your eating window 3 hours before bedtime, your sleep quality will improve.

From one mom to another, when everything around me is chaotic, it helps me to know that I can still do something for my health by simply eating all my meals in a smaller window of time.

Fasting is not for the Whole Family

This should go without saying, fasting is not appropriate for anyone under the age of 18, or if you are currently pregnant.

If you are still nursing, you could try a smaller eating window, but be advised that it may negatively affect your milk supply. I would caution against trying this until baby has weaned.

What do you when your spouse or partner is unwilling to adopt the same eating window as you? This can be tricky to navigate.

I encourage you to revisit your “why.” Why are you shifting your calories to earlier in the day? Remind yourself that your smaller eating window will help promote good sleep quality, which will give you more energy throughout the day and can help facilitate weight loss.

I’ll admit that I sometimes miss my glass of wine after the kids go to bed. Do you know what I don’t miss? The anxiety, health problems, and poor sleep I had when I wasn’t caring for my health.

Now I enjoy having a glass of wine while I make dinner.

I’ll still relax at night with water or herbal tea. Turns out it wasn’t the wine so much as the act of being able to relax after the kids went to sleep.

How do I set a schedule?

The best way to set a schedule is to start with your current schedule. What is your work, school, kids activity schedule like each week?

Write it down. What time you eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Think about what your week is like and what you can reasonably commit to trying.

Can you set a 10-hour eating window? An example of this would be breakfast at 8 am and dinner at 6 pm.

Sample Intermittent Fasting Schedule

6:00 am: coffee or green tea

7:00 am: kid’s breakfast

Between 8 - 9 am: my breakfast

12:00 pm: lunch

3:00 pm: snack

Between 5 - 6 pm: dinner

My kids, like many kids, would eat every single hour of the day, if I let them. But here’s the thing, since I’ve been home with them all day for the past few months, I started snacking as much as they did and as such, have been over-consuming calories.

Set your eating window and do what you can to stick to it. It doesn’t have to be precise.

In the morning, your kids may ask why you aren’t eating yet. That’s expected. Mine still ask after 4 years and I simply explain to them that it’s not time for me to eat.

When my kids were toddlers, they’d insist I take “bites” of their breakfast or want to share a spoonful of whatever they were eating. I’d take that bite. Why? I knew it would break my fast, but the calories were always negligible and there has to be some flexibility for the family.

Making Fasting Work for Moms

I started Revolution Dietitian because I was frustrated that there wasn’t any practical fasting advice for women, especially moms. I didn’t find it helpful hearing wealthy men talk about how easy it is to do a 7-day fast.

I’m over here like “sure it’s easy because you aren’t at home making meals for tiny humans all day.”

There is a way to find an eating window that works for you and your family. Just ask me how. I’m only a message away.

Don’t miss the 7 action steps for getting back on track after quarantine.

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Hi, I'm Shannan.

I help adults make confident choices for a lifetime of good health.

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