So you’re at work, 11 o’clock strikes and a surprise birthday celebration is thrown for Ted, the sales guy. There will be cake, ice cream, and some vegan cookies that the office vegan brought in.

You, perhaps just learning the ins-and-outs of intermittent fasting, decide that you’ll pass on this glorious sugar feast and continue your new routine of fasting until around 2 or 3pm.

You walk by the lounge where cake slices are being passed around, one by one, and Nancy the secretary interjects:

Won’t you be having some cake? Let me get you a piece!

Now, you could have any number of perfectly suitable responses.

  • “No, thank you.”
  • “I already ate.”
  • Say you’ll take a plate “for later”.

But what if you want to be bold and say something like:

Actually, I do intermittent fasting, so I don’t eat until the afternoon.

Well… why didn’t you say that right away? It’s the truth, after all.

The reason I hear most often is anxiety. You don’t want to deal with the third degree, the series of questions challenging every detail of your choice. Intermittent fasting is still something of a niche topic and unfortunately most of people are operating with bad, out-of-date nutrition data.

I’ve even had people tell me that this anxiety has ruined their diet.

My vegan friends deal with this sort of thing all the time. Most of the time people are just curious, but other times, people can become nearly offended and hostile because your choice opposes theirs.

Here are the two most common responses:

But you need breakfast, it’s the most important meal of the day!

Fasting? Your body is going to go into starvation mode, you’ll never lose weight that way.

And here’s what I usually say back, both responses of which I originally derived from Martin Berkhan’s excellent article on the topic

That’s actually a modern myth. A study (paid for by cereal companies) did at one point show a correlation between people who ate breakfast and people who didn’t, but the true result of that was that people who schedule their day out and have time for breakfast tend to be healthier compared to people who don’t. More of a proponent of time management. The cereal companies, of course, spun the result in their favor and the slogan has stuck with us ever since.

“Starvation mode” won’t actually be an issue unless you are fasting for over 2 days. The fasting I do is simply skipping breakfast and having a late lunch. I still eat the same amount of food (minus a small amount for the diet).

Now, you might get called a science nerd for these responses, but I find that if you are precise with your answers, while still allowing room for new information, you won’t have to say much else. Most people haven’t actually done the necessary research and are just spitting back something they heard or read on a fitness magazine cover while checking out at the grocery store.

And that’s it. Don’t be afraid to defend your choices. And if you can’t remember the facts, just say you’re not hungry and try to remember next time! :)