Intermittent Fasting Tips and Healthy Cooking Shortcuts [Podcast with Chef Liz Barbour] - PCOS Diva
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Intermittent Fasting Tips and Healthy Cooking Shortcuts [Podcast with Chef Liz Barbour]

“To entice yourself to eat healthy in a simpler way, I encourage you to take effortless dishes and elevate them.”

I speak with my friend and neighbor, Liz Barbour, in today’s podcast. She is a chef, a cooking instructor, the founder of The Creative Feast, and author of Beautifully Delicious: Cooking with Herbs and Edible Flowers.

She is passionate about helping people overcome their kitchen fears by teaching them basic, essential cooking skills. If food preparation is overly complicated or involves exotic ingredients, people get overwhelmed and resort to unhealthy food choices. She has a ton of fantastic tips to share on how to get back into the kitchen and sizzle with ease.

Liz is also an avid fan of intermittent fasting, and she hosts a Facebook group called Live Free and Fast, an Intermittent Fasting Support Group. I love her approach to intermittent fasting because it’s not a one-size-fits-all. With PCOS and insulin resistance, it’s important to listen to your body and take things slow. Liz shares valuable insights on how to make intermittent fasting work for you and also points out the obstacles to success.

Listen in as we discuss:

  • How to make vegetables taste delicious (so you actually eat them)
  • How to take simple dishes and elevate them
  • The disadvantages of a traditional Keto diet
  • Explore the different intermittent fasting protocols
  • How to ease into intermittent fasting
  • Obstacles to successful fasting

All PCOS Diva podcasts are available on:itunes-button

Liz is an entertaining communicator whose warm, relaxed approach to food and cooking resonates with her students. With stories and instruction, Liz shares her experiences as a working chef to demystify
the cooking process for her students. She is a firm believer that any home cook can prepare fresh, flavorful meals with confidence if taught just a few basic but important skills.

With the popularity of her cooking classes, Liz was inspired to write her first cookbook Beautifully Delicious: Cooking with Herbs & Edible Flowers . Her book is full of gorgeous photographs and contains over 60 of Liz’s favorite flavor-inspired recipes using herbs and edible flowers. Each easy-to-use recipe offers simple variations and step-by-step instructions to help create two or three different Beautifully Delicious meals.

Resources mentioned:

The Creative Feast
Beautifully Delicious: Cooking with Herbs & Edible Flowers
Live Free and Fast: Intermittent Facebook group
Food & Fun Recipe Blog

Complete Transcript

Amy:

As you may know, because I’ve been talking quite a bit about it, I recently moved, and one of the best parts of moving to a new community is meeting new people. I especially love getting to know a new neighbor in my new town of Hollis, New Hampshire, Liz Barbour. Liz and I both share a love of cooking, gardening, creating recipes, and teaching people how to cook delicious and nutritious food from scratch. Liz is a chef, a cooking instructor, the founder of thecreativefeast.com, and author of the cookbook, Beautifully Delicious: Cooking With Herbs and Edible Flowers. Liz is also an avid fan of intermittent fasting and she hosts a Facebook group called Live Free and Fast, New Hampshire Intermittent Fasting Support Group. So if you’re interested in intermittent fasting, I encourage you to join her Facebook group. So anyone who’s interested in learning more about intermittent fasting, its health benefits, and weight loss help, should join. And she really follows the best practices in the book Delay, Don’t Deny by Gin Stephens. So we’re going to be talking about that, as well as getting in your kitchen, and I call it sizzling in the kitchen, for your help. So really excited for today’s conversation. Welcome, Liz.

Liz Barbour:

Thank you so much, Amy. It’s great to be with you.

Amy:

So before we actually got to meet face to face, I had been following you on social media. You’re a bit of a local celebrity. You’ve had columns and cooking columns in different local newspapers, and I’ve seen you on TV, but local TV. Tell us how you really developed a love of cooking and teaching other people to really embrace sizzling in the kitchen.

Liz Barbour:

Well, I actually had started quite a few years ago. I had been living in the North End of Boston. And really, I moved there after a career in fashion in New York City. It was a big change for me. And I have always loved food, obviously, and cooking and was really introduced to the idea of working with local ingredients and all of that when I was living in the North End, which is one of the great places for food. I started working in a gourmet food store in Cambridge, and learned some basics, I mean, when I say basics, I mean basics. We did not have a commercial kitchen at the time, and this was in the early like 1990. They literally had hot plates and a big oven. And as a gourmet food store, they had produce and they had a meat counter. When things aren’t as beautiful or they’re approaching the timeframe where you’ve got to toss them before they get there, you still want to find uses for them.

And I think that’s really where gourmet food preparation started on a commercial level, where you go in, and if you go to whole foods today, you can get a great salad and stuff. And while they, of course, were buying ingredients fresh for that, we were trying to find creative ways to use them, and that’s where I cut my teeth in the cooking world. And then progressed, like many chefs do or cooks do is just working my way through commercial kitchens. I did at the Inn at Harvard, in Cambridge and then I started going into restaurants.

So I don’t have a formal degree from a culinary school. I learned along the way. And every time you work under a chef, you learn something new. So that’s where I started. I was working for catering companies as well, which really taught me how to work on the fly, work in interesting locations, if you’ve ever been to a wedding out in the middle of the field, you should know that that caterer has created a kitchen out of almost nothing, and then they’ve gone ahead and prepared an amazing meal for you. So that’s the background that I had. And then my husband and I moved from Massachusetts to Hollis, New Hampshire, in 1999. And I had not been cooking for a few years because my kids were little, and we were lucky that I could stay home with them. And when we moved to Hollis, Amy, I said to my husband, “Don’t you dare tell anybody that I have a professional cooking background because we’ll never get invited to dinner.” And we actually kept the secret for a while. And I think people are very intimidated when if they think they have a chef or a professional cook at their dining table. So we kept it quiet. And even though I always told my husband, the best meals I’ve ever eaten are the ones that I don’t cook.

Amy:

Exactly.

Liz Barbour:

So it’s so true. But anyway, so I decided, the kids had gotten old enough, I have two kids, and they got old enough where I could begin exploring the idea of heading back to work. I did not want to be in a professional kitchen. It would be too restrictive on my time. So I started teaching cooking through community adult education, continuing education. So I started just dabbling in, getting in front of people and teaching basics. And I think that that has been my strongest lesson, is the idea of just going back to basics. How do you cook a chicken breast without burning it? If you’re going to make a soup, how do you cook the onions and the celery and the carrots so that they don’t burn? These are very basic lessons, but most of us are learning through the internet where, oh my gosh, look at how delicious that recipe is that I found on Pinterest, I’m going to cook it right away, and we’re not given the real basics of how to get from the very beginning of that recipe to the final end. When we were kids, these days, we’re not standing at our mother’s apron strings, because many of our mothers were working.

So it’s these basic lessons, the basic techniques that I’ve really focused on in my cooking demonstrations, which is what I started. So I’ve been doing the demonstrations since 2004 and I travel or I was traveling throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, into Vermont, Maine, offering cooking demonstrations to libraries, women’s clubs, garden clubs, any group or organization that needed a speaker for entertainment, so I guess you could say I was food entertainment. And so it was a really great marketing opportunity for me because I didn’t have to advertise, I just needed to get in with those libraries and then word of mouth got around.

Over the years, if I look at my email list, I have over 7,000 clients over the years that I’ve gotten to know and I have many now that are internet based since I took my cooking demonstrations out of those locations, and now I’m doing it completely online. So I’ve been doing that for a year and a half, and now it’s going across the country. So it’s really so wonderful to meet people from all different parts of the country, who want to learn how to cook, but don’t want to be overwhelmed with overly complicated methods and techniques and ingredients. I think many of us really just want to know, how do I take healthy ingredients and make a delicious meal that my family will not only, once, but maybe will eat as leftovers etc.? And that’s basically that’s where I am. Right now I am working to expand this so that I will have a presence where you can come and pay for a class that you might be more interested in, maybe go a little bit more in-depth than what I was able to cover in a library program. So I do offer demonstrations and I do offer cookalongs. So that’s pretty much where I’m at at this moment. Did I answer your question?

Amy:

Oh, yes. I think one of the things that I encourage my clients to do is to find a class that just teaches knife skills and how to use a chef’s knife in the kitchen. If you can get good at cutting, dicing, mincing vegetables, that to me, that’s half the battle.

Liz Barbour:

You’re so right. And that is one of … I did a few classes last year online where people came and together on video, we used our knives. And I’ve done knife skills class over the years for school cafeteria stuff, I’ve done them for corporate groups. I completely agree with you that understanding, number one, how to sharpen a knife, and number two, how to use it, it will make a task more enjoyable. There’s nothing worse than cutting something with a dull knife and you’ve shredded a piece of meat or you just can’t get through that carrot and-

Amy:

Or the tomato. So for me, it’s always the tomato.

Liz Barbour:

Yes, yes, yes. So here’s your first tip, Amy. When you are cutting a tomato, always use a serrated knife because that will cut into the skin. A dull knife will skid across the skin. When you’re cutting a pepper, I recommend that … There is a technique to cutting it, but once you get that pepper open, cut from the inside where there’s texture, and that will help your knife stay in place.

Amy:

Oh, that’s great. I think a lot of my clients and women that follow PCOS Diva, I think one of the hardest, and we’ve been talking about this on the last couple podcasts, is getting your family on board with healthy eating. And I think part of that reason is that people think that vegetables are kind of boring, or unappetizing. They might have been used to their mother’s way of preparing vegetables, maybe like a boiled cauliflower or really overcooked peas, or … I’m just thinking, I mean, I love my mother, but she’s not a great cook, and I’m just thinking about things that we ate, oh gosh, really super soggy asparagus. So I always tell people that making vegetables taste delicious is really the key to get your family on board. So I was wondering if you had some kind of tips, and how do you teach your students to prepare really delicious veggies?

Liz Barbour:

That is a great question. And I end up without realizing it. Well, I ended up doing a lot of vegetable dishes when I was traveling because of the hazards of traveling with raw meat. So I have focused a lot on vegetables. So what I tell my students is, number one, you must season your vegetables. Now, we have been trained that salt is not good for you or that you should use very little. And the fact is, is that our bodies require salt and our bodies will shed the extra salts that we may have taken in. So if you have too much sodium, your body is uniquely designed to get rid of it through your urine, your sweat, all of that. So if you have a doctor’s order not to salt, by all means, you should follow your doctor’s recommendations. But there are many of us who have never had those issues, and yet, we’re denying ourselves the critical ingredient in cooking, because salt will actually … it does a couple of things in cooking vegetables in particular. Number one, salt will bring out the natural flavors of your vegetables.

So we don’t want to dramatically change the flavor of broccoli, for example. Through different cooking techniques, we can soften that flavor because there is a lot of … for some people, they’re super tasters and something like broccoli can taste very strong. So if you notice, the longer you cook broccoli, the softer or the milder that bitterness becomes. Now, I know and you know, we’ve both had moms who may have overcooked our vegetables according to today’s standards. There was a time where you’ve just barely blanched your broccoli back in the like, I would say 1980s, early ’90s, just barely heated it, lots of crunch, and we’ve been doing that. But if you are somebody where a flavor of vegetable is too strong, the longer you cook it actually, the sweeter it becomes. And then adding salt will help bring that flavor out.

So I have found, and you may be surprised, Amy, and I’m going to challenge you to try this, if I do cook my broccoli till it’s very soft, I drain it, strain it, and then I season it with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and lemon juice, that will pop the flavor back up, but also give me the sweetness that I like in that. So there’s a couple things in that instruction. There is the salt, absolutely, you need that. I also add in pepper with that. But then there’s that lemon. Lemon is another way to brighten up the flavor of your vegetables because of the acid in it. So you may taste a cooked vegetable, for example, and this would apply to anything that you’re preparing, and you taste and you’re like, it’s missing something, it’s missing something. What is it missing? So the first thing we typically go for is salt. Add a little bit of that. But what you can also go for is a little bit of acid in the form of lemon juice. You could use lemon zest, which has the most natural lemon flavor in it because that’s where the oils are, but doesn’t add bitterness. So if you don’t like the bitterness of lemon juice, use the lemon zest. And then surprisingly, for some people, even a little bit of sugar will help.

Anyway, those are some basics. Now, if we’re talking about cooking techniques for your vegetables, as I mentioned in my example, there’s steaming or boiling. If you want, always use salted water even if you’re steaming because that salt will then infuse itself into your vegetable from the very start. I like to use a kosher salt, but you could certainly use a really great mineral salt, Redmond Real Salt is a really nice sea salt that you can use. So you can use that. So we have steaming or boiling. We’ve heard a lot about roasting your vegetables. Roasting will bring out the natural sugars from your vegetables. Just know that when you roast, you are caramelizing the sugars, that’s why you see a lot of browning on your roasted vegetables. So we want to make sure that we are roasting at a high heat that could be 425 degrees, in some people, they have a very efficient oven, so it might be 400 degrees. You want to be using a nice open sheet pan where you have room between your vegetables. If you closely pack your vegetables in the oven, you’re essentially steaming them because they’re too close together. Right?

Amy:

That’s a good tip.

Liz Barbour:

Yes. And also you do want to use fat. So we have the combination of salt and fat and that will bring out the natural flavor in your vegetables as well. So when I’m roasting my vegetables, I’m lightly tossing them in a little bit of either olive oil or extra virgin olive oil, I’m giving a nice generous pinch of salt and some pepper, and boom, that goes into the oven. If you are someone who wants to steam some vegetables, so say we’re going to steam some cauliflower for example, as you mentioned, steam them till they’re fork tender. What does that mean? That means you put your fork in and it goes in easily and it pops out easily. Okay? Fork tender. Bring that out and then drain them and then put them back in your hot saucepan and then add butter, butter, butter, butter, add butter to it and let the butter just melt on top, taste, add salt and pepper to taste, and then you’re all set. So those are a couple of really quick tips that I can give you, but what you’ll notice in all of those is the importance of the seasoning. And I haven’t even touched on adding herbs or spices. I’m getting you back down to the basics. Okay?

Amy:

Yes. And I think you brought up a great … I think herbs are so underrated in cooking especially fresh herbs, and I know you have a beautiful kitchen garden in the summer. And I really encourage people to have a kitchen garden or even some pots on your windowsill in the winter time. I think that adding some fresh herbs to veggies like that, just toss them in with the butter afterwards, it really elevates the veggie.

Liz Barbour:

It does. For people who are not confident in their cooking or in their choices of flavors, blending flavors. I get a lot of questions of, what herbs should I use? What combinations of herbs should I use? If you’re uncertain or under confident in that, one of the best herbs that I recommend is a bunch of flat leaf parsley. It can change everything you prepare by adding that chopped up, and at the end, right before you’re ready to serve. Flat leaf parsley is more of a tender herb and if I’m going to add it, I’ll chop it ,and back to our cauliflower, I will add it to the cauliflower when I’m adding that butter, and the heat will bring out the oils of the parsley and will really give you a burst of fresh flavor. So I would say, start with parsley. You can actually cut it up and use it in your salads. You can toss it with your tomato sauce right before you ready to serve. You could toss it with spaghetti squash, salt, pepper, olive oil. You’ve got an amazing dish right there. So very simple. Again, if we were to say, what are the basics? I would say salt, pepper, olive oil, butter, parsley.

Amy:

Perfect.

Liz Barbour:

Then you can move into other herbs and spices as well.

Amy:

Yes. And I’ll just mention a few that I love, like a little bit more advanced when it comes to tossing herbs over steamed vegetables or roasted or grilled. I love herbal kind of sauces. I guess, I don’t know if you’d consider it a sauce, but like a chimichurri or a pesto, or I’ve recently discovered Za’atar, I don’t know if that’s the way that you say it.

Liz Barbour:

Yes.

Amy:

It’s like the Middle Eastern spice mix with sesame and sumac and thyme. And you can buy it in like a dry … it’s not a fresh herb, but you add olive oil to that and drizzle it over your vegetables and it’s delicious.

Liz Barbour:

Oh it is. Don’t be afraid to buy spice mixes like that. I know Trader Joe’s has quite a few that people really like, the Za’atar. You may have a Southwest seasoning blend that you really like. Those are all great things to add right before you serve in most cases, just knowing that the heat will actually bring out those flavors better. Although you can use them in salad dressings and things like that. If you’re going to do that, try to pinch them with your fingers to rough them up a bit and get the oils to come out. But yes, any kind of spice mixes. If you go to my website at thecreativefeast.com, I actually have spices’ combinations there, but also when you mentioned pesto, I just taught a class the other night using gremolata, which is a classic Italian condiment added to stews to brighten them up, but I use the gremolata on pastas, over fish, with chicken over vegetables, and all it is is it’s extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic, chopped parsley, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, salt and pepper. These are all the things we’ve already talked about and they’re all in that combination. And I just keep that in my refrigerator and add it to whatever I feel like. I made scrambled eggs the other day, I added it to my scrambled eggs.

So, again, you can see where you’re taking the simplest of preparation. If we look at scrambled eggs, we’ve got really healthy eggs there. How do I elevate the flavor? Well, I’ve got my gremolata, we have our Za’atar, we have our flat leaf parsley, you might have a Southwest seasoning you want to sprinkle on top, you can take those very simple dishes and elevate them, and really entice yourself to eat healthy in a simpler way.

It really becomes more intuitive too. You don’t need to pour through a recipe book. You have these simple ingredients in your fridge, and you start to really understand how to mix and match. So you can bring out those natural flavors.

Liz Barbour:

Yes. Yes. Again, just stick with what you know, right?

Amy:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Liz Barbour:

If you are somebody that makes a great tomato sauce, for example, you can do so much with your tomato sauce. You could, instead of just taking it in that traditional Italian way, you could add curry powder to that, and then a can of coconut milk. And then you’ve got-

Amy:

That sounds good.

Liz Barbour:

Right?

Amy:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Liz Barbour:

A curry coconut sauce, you’ve got the beginnings of a curry coconut soup. So stick with what you know, and then start to go off of that. And that way you’re moving into this culinary adventure, beginning with a base of confidence, and then you’re just trying it out.

Amy:

So I want to move to our other topic. Way back when when I graduated college, I wanted to go right on to culinary school, and my parents said, no way. You have to pay off those loans and that’s going to be on you. So I went into the work world, but always just had a love of cooking. But part of me always felt like, oh my gosh, if I’m in a kitchen all day long, I won’t be able to manage my weight. And I always wonder that with people who are in a kitchen, their whole life is focused on cooking and food, like managing your weight is something that I’ve always wondered if I would be able to manage. I thought that was so interesting that you are really passionate about intermittent fasting and I’m just curious how you discovered intermittent fasting and what that has meant for you.

Liz Barbour:

I’ve shifted our diet, my husband’s and mine, and my family’s, until the kids left for school. I’ve always made changes in the diet. We stopped putting bread on the table when we have dinner. We did that. After a while, we decided to stop drinking wine every night with dinner. Little changes. I know we were getting healthier, but I wasn’t losing weight and it was making me crazy. And I am a regular exerciser, I had been lifting weights, I had been doing everything that I was told to do. And then along came this, the Keto craze, and I was very curious about that. It made sense because years before, I had followed a program similar to the Atkins program, so it was mostly high fat, really good vegetables and healthy fruits, very little processed foods. And I did very well with that.

And then of course, like all diets, and I’m sure many of your listeners have discovered, once you’re done, you’re like, “Oh, I’m done. I lost that 20 pounds”, and then it all begins to creep back up. So we’ve all done this, some to other more extreme than others. So I was interested in the keto diet, and I started listening to the The Two Keto Dudes, and they were fun to listen to, but what I was interested in is, I don’t consider myself to be a science minded person. And they were talking about food science in a way that I had never been able to grasp before. And so I was listening to them about the Keto diet, and I thought, “Oh, I’m going to try this”, and my husband, Tedd, will watch from the sidelines and he’s like, not interested. I mean, he’s in very good shape. He really never had weight to lose. He’s always been a runner. And I had about 25, 30 pounds, I wanted to lose so.

So he watched me do the Keto thing and he said, “You know what I don’t like about that diet or any diet is there’s denial in that diet. You can’t have certain things.” And he said, “I don’t ever want to eat where I can’t have what I want to eat.” And I thought, well, he’s living in a fantasy world. I’ll do the work and he’ll see. And so these guys, as I was following along, I found I really enjoyed the food, I was loading on the fat as they recommended, and I actually had started to see results, and then it came to a stop. And as I listened, one of these guys was like, sitting down at his microphone, saying, oh, and he’s from Australia, and I won’t even try the accent, but he said, I just got in from a 35-mile bike ride, and I’ve been fasting for 22 hours. I’m like, who does that? That’s insanity. How could he do that? And then I would listen to another one of their shows. And he would come in and have this long fasted state, and then they started talking about intermittent fasting.

And these guys were both, I think, obese at one time, and they’re talking about the weight they lost, the combination of Keto and intermittent fasting, and that’s when I started looking into this intermittent fasting thing, because they were telling me they could eat whatever they wanted. And so then I started looking around and I fell on Gin Stephens’ Delay, Don’t Deny. Oh, no, I take that back. I came across her podcast with Melanie Avalon. It’s called The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. And I would recommend that to any new faster. I would recommend the first 100 episodes, mainly because after that, they changed the format and started bringing in commercials. But before that, they were taking questions from listeners and I found that incredibly helpful. And one of the listeners was a chef and she talked about, how can I do intermittent fasting if I’m a chef, and I realized that I had been doing it.

And so how was I able to lose weight? I lost 25 pounds. How was I able to do that and be a chef? Well, if you follow the intermittent fasting simplicity, the elegance of it, it’s just where you have taken the amount of hours in which you eat and you’ve condensed them. So if I’m on a 19:5 fasting protocol, I will eat within five hours. Now, I can put those five hours any time during the day. I can slot them in. So when I test recipes, I test them in my eating window. When I do classes, I do them outside of my eating window because I don’t eat in class, I don’t eat in front of my students. So I would eat before I packed up my car and got on the road, and then I would go. So I would begin my fast before I left my home and then I was so energized in my classes and I stopped falling asleep on my drives. I would take one and a half, two hour drives, to and from, daylight and nighttime. I just started seeing phenomenal results just in how my daily life operated, let alone the idea that I was losing weight, I was toning up like crazy and I had stopped my gym membership completely. No more gym, but the inflammation went down and revealed the muscles I had been working on for years.

So yes, it was really exciting. So that’s how I discovered The Intermittent Fasting. I learned so much from Gin Stephens and Melanie Avalon, and then I progressed to listening to Gin Stephens’ other podcasts, reading her books, following her Facebook groups, and then I realized, I needed to share the information. So that’s what started me sharing through my own Facebook group.

Amy:

Well, and you shared Gin Stephens’ book with me. I had not heard of Gin until you had mentioned the Delay, Don’t Deny. So I picked up a copy of her book and I think what I really liked is that she’s a regular person and she struggles with insulin resistance as I do, and I would venture to say most of the women listening to my podcasts, struggle with insulin resistance. And I think what I also liked about her approach is that, it’s not a one size fits all fasting approach, and that’s what I say about the PCOS Diet. There’s no one size fits all approach. You really have to, through trial and error, figure out what works best for you, however, within guidelines, you have to eat like … in terms of the PCOS, the best diet, you have to figure out the right mix of macros for you, but you can’t not eat lots of vegetables. So that’s why we were talking about how to make vegetables taste earlier.

But what I love about her book is that she really details her fasting journey, and she landed on, like you did, that fasting for 19 hours, eating within that five-hour window. So in my book, and working with my clients, I like to start with just 12 hours. I think when women have a lot of issues with blood sugar control and insulin resistance, you have to get that stabilized first. And it’s so important to go and have that rest and digest phase, but then you can start playing around with that fasting window. So I’m just curious with you, how did you land upon that 19:5 fasting protocol?

Liz Barbour:

Well, I did just as you recommend, started out with the 12-hour fast. And you are right. Most of us, we can do that, because there’s so much, there’s time sleeping in there, and then you can keep busy. And then I just started moving, 14 hours, 16 hours. Once I got to 18 hours, believe it or not, my husband jumped on board. He was like, “Oh, well, that makes sense to me.” So this made sense to him because we were talking about the science of it. And I always recommend to people, if you want to take on intermittent fasting, number one, we know there are so many benefits to that, lowering insulin being one of the most important for us or lowering your inflammation, you need to read, you need to learn. Please don’t ask me what you should do. I know what works for me.

I can help you to understand … How can you get over a plateau? What kinds of tricks do you have to keep me from getting hungry? I can support you in all of that, but I cannot give you the best protocol that works for your body. There are times where I had been doing the 19:5 for quite some time, and then I kind of reached a plateau and I had read something that said you should try a 24-hour fast once a week. And I thought, okay, I’ll do that. And so I did my first 24-hour fast. I was elated. And then I discovered there are people who actually fast for 36, 72 hours. But you see, more doesn’t mean better, necessarily. If you’re at 19:5, you feel great, you’re noticing progress, you don’t then have to think, well, I should then try a 36-hour fast. If 19 hours is good, 36 hours will be even better. Not necessarily. You’ve got to work up to it. Maybe it’s not right for your body type. Maybe with the PCOS as an issue, there are a lot of things going on that … Doing those longer fasts, just isn’t going to work for you.

There are some times where I will go from … I’ll do regularly, more often I do 20 and four, 20 hours fasted, four hours feasting. I’ll go back to eating two meals a day for a few days. I’ll go back to a 16:8 or an 18:6, and then all of a sudden, I see my weight drop a little bit. So we want to give our body, we want to just lit up a little bit. Try a little something different. So, for me, I’ve been doing it now for almost five years. I know when I start to retain a little bit of weight or retain water. I know what I need to do. I know that I need to cut my carbs, that absolutely will do it for me. I know that I need to up my protein, that’s really critical for women. I can’t speak specifically to the PCOS aspect, but protein is really important, and I think in many cases, we don’t eat enough.

The other thing is while a lot of people are into adding fat into their diet, I caution people to add excessive fat into your diet. I simply just, instead of denying myself fat, I’ll just add it so that it flavors my food, but won’t add tons of it. Keto people add tons of fat to their food. If you’ve got fat to lose, you’ve got to watch out how much fat you’re adding in.

Amy:

I worry about that traditional Keto approach, because I think that the emphasis on fat and protein deemphasizes the vegetable piece. If you’ve been listening, you know that I’m not vegan or vegetarian, but we have to have those phytonutrients with lots of fiber to help with the hormone balance to ease inflammation and insulin resistance. So I agree, you have to be careful with the amount of the fat and … It all needs to be balanced to work best for your body, and that does take some trial and error.

Liz Barbour:

Yes. And I think to people, the Keto diet has become very popular, and we have to watch out how different diets are marketed to us, as we all know. The keto diet originally was a therapeutic diet for very specific conditions. And I think it’s most successful long-term in that regard, as opposed to people just taking it on because it’s a fad diet. You have to watch that. When they’re trying to sell you things about a specific diet, my red flag goes up. Intermittent fasting is absolutely free, and in fact, it’ll save you money. I don’t have to buy anything to do intermittent fasting. There’s no pill, there’s no drink, there’s no candy bar, there’s nothing like that. It’s just a question of time.

Amy:

So, in your Facebook group, what are some of the obstacles that you find people who are just getting started run into?

Liz Barbour:

I kind of touched on it before. I have had people say, “Oh, I’m so excited about this. I’ve done a lot of reading. I’m going to do a 24-hour fast.” So they’re jumping into these long fasts. First, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment, and I would never, and Gin mentions this, I don’t ever want anyone to white knuckle it through a fast. It’s something you need to build up to. It’s like exercise, right? If you’re going to lift weights, you’re going to add your weight slowly, get used to that weight, and then add more as your body settles in, you want to jumpstart it again by adding a little bit more. So start with, as you recommend, start with that 12-hour fast, and then over the next week or so, build yourself up to 14 hours and then maybe 16 over the next couple of weeks.

But do remember that some of the things, the foods that you eat, can trigger your hunger. So you have to watch out for that. I practice the clean fast. I know you’ve read Delay, Don’t Deny, Amy, so you know that Gin Stephens is a real stickler for that and I always recommend that. So what does that mean? That means when you fast, you were only drinking water and it can be bubbly water of any kind, but no flavor. No sweeteners, artificial, or natural. You can drink black coffee, you can drink black or green tea, with the idea that you do not want flavor or sweetness to spike your insulin during your fast. Now, there are gray areas for some people, and it is an experiment of one, a little bit of peppermint spray to freshen your breath doesn’t spike your insulin, doesn’t make you hungry. Okay, maybe that works for you, but peppermint tea would send me over the edge, because peppermint in my brain means sweet. Do you see what I’m saying?

Amy:

Exactly.

Liz Barbour:

Right. So, again, we can always come back to you’re an experiment of one, you may be somebody who can drink cinnamon in your tea, but I cannot, because it’ll just make me think of the next sweet thing I can have. And once I start to trigger my insulin, then I’m white knuckling it. I’m hungry, I can’t stop thinking about it, all of that. Yes, that is always a question for me. But Delay, Don’t Deny, Gin Stephens does a great job in taking you step by step, and as you mentioned, she’s like you, she’s like me, we’re just regular people trying to figure this out. And she was a teacher, so she has a great way of explaining things to you, that are scientific, that you can use in your tool belt.

But then, when you’re fasting, how do I keep from being hungry? What busy things can I do? I’ll tell you, the first months that I was practicing it, the drawers in my kitchen were so clean and organized. You start making a list of projects because the hour or so before you’re going to break your fast, that could be the toughest hour, because you’re just trying to extend that one extra hour. So that’s when I think, well, what can I do for an hour? I know, I’ll go outside and clean the chicken coop, or I’ll go weed, or I’ll go collect some herbs, or I’ll go for a walk, I’ll take the dog for a walk. There are lots of little ways that you can extend your fast. And you will find that hunger goes in waves. So while you may be hungry, if you can occupy your mind within 10 minutes, that hunger will go away. It’s not a continuous climb. And that’s an important thing to remember.

Amy:

And I’ll say that, I have been able to go from 12 … like do the 12-hour fast to 16 hours, a couple times a week, that’s kind of my pattern. I’ll do the 16:8 fast like, on the days I don’t work out which is Tuesday and Thursday. I may try the five-hour feeding window. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get there, but I can definitely see the benefit of some type of intermittent fasting. I really encourage listeners to pick up a copy of Gin’s book to experiment with your window of fasting and feeding, and to definitely check out Liz’s online Facebook group for support. I’ve been on there, you do a great job supporting your tribe Liz.

Liz Barbour:

Thank you.

Amy:

I want you to tell us also about your cooking classes and what’s coming up if your divas are interested in learning some techniques to make it easier for them to get in the kitchen and start cooking real food from scratch.

Liz Barbour:

Well, thank you so much for letting me mention that. So if you go to my website, it’s called thecreativefeast.com, so my business is The Creative Feast, and if you go there, you will see that you can follow me on Instagram. If you would like, down at the bottom, you can follow me on Facebook with The Creative Feast. There is a calendar there and you will see what libraries I am doing online programs for. So for example, tomorrow night, I am going to be, let’s see, what is our date today? So I’m going to be cooking online for the Melrose Massachusetts Public Library and I’m going to be doing new traditions for Thanksgiving. So you can go either to the calendar and sign up, or if it’s not there, you can go to the Melrose Public Library and sign up with the library. It’s free. Libraries encourage people from all over the country to enjoy their programming. So that’s how you can find me doing programs that are public.

Liz Barbour:

I will be putting together private classes that you can join, so they’ll be for those who want to sign up and join me on Zoom cooking together. The best thing for you to do about that is if you go to the contact list page and just join my email list, then you’ll get a mailing. And I don’t do a lot of mailings so you’ll just get a reminder that you can check out my calendar, and then you’ll be able to register for those classes. So those are fun. Also, if you go to my Food and Fun, you can check out my recipe blog. Lots of recipes there, and down on the categories, you’re going to see a lot of different opportunity options there for different categories of cooking. And I update that all the time because as I teach classes, I do bring new recipes almost weekly. So that’s there.

Liz Barbour:

And then of course, you can continue to scroll down, there is, where it says Food and Fun, my Live Free and Past page, that just gives you some help there, but you can also join my Facebook group called Live Free and Fast support group. And I do, Amy, every couple of weeks, I do a live Zoom in the evenings. So if anybody would like to ask questions during that time, always welcome to join us. We have some really great people as part of our group, some long-term fasters, some new ones. I learn something every time we have, we call it our fasting talk, every time I learn new things and what people are doing in their own fasting practice, supplements, things like that. It’s fascinating. So lots of information, if you go to my website. You can also check out my Edible Gardens. Amy, I still have to have you over to my house. We live in one of the oldest homes here in Hollis, and we had a kitchen remodel which is where I do my classes from, so you can check that out. So lots of information on the website.

Amy:

Well, I would love to do … we could do a live class like on Instagram Live and Facebook Live for the PCOS Divas, where you could do something around cooking vegetables.

Liz Barbour:

Oh, I would love to.

Amy:

Okay. But that would be great.

Liz Barbour:

Would you be in your kitchen and I would be in mine, or

Amy:

Oh, I’ll come over to your kitchen. We’ll do it in your kitchen.

Liz Barbour:

Oh, good, good. That’s fun. I would love that.

Amy:

So I will post all of your links that you mentioned in today’s show notes as well as a link to your cookbook, Beautifully Delicious: Cooking With Herbs and Edible Flowers, so that listeners can go to the podcast page and find all of those great resources. So thank you so much, Liz, for joining us. I know we’ve been talking about this. I’m glad we were able to get together today.

Liz Barbour:

Well, thank you so much, Amy, for inviting me and I’ll look forward to talking with you again.

Amy:

And thank you everyone for listening. I look forward to being with you again very soon. Bye, bye.

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