Many people start Fast-5 in a “cold turkey” approach, meaning that they pick a window and just start.

Day 1 of this approach usually goes very smoothly. Day 2 is similar: “This is easy, no big deal, why didn’t I do this before?” Then day 3 or day 4 comes along and there’s a day of unusually intense hunger—what Fast-5ers call a crunch day. The crunch may be a strong hunger signal, or just a persistently distracting one, but it’s often enough to make people think “I can’t do this anymore!”

That crunch day, if it comes, is a crucial time. It’s the point where your body has used up a lot of its easy fuel from digestion, but hasn’t fully revved up your fat cells’ ability to pump out their stored fuel. Your appetite center, aware of the pinch, says “hey, eat something, will ya?” It’s vital for your success that you know it gets better—much better—soon!

There are four ways to go if you’re having trouble getting through a crunch day:

1)   Eat. You’re on the sandy hill described in the book and you’ve just stumbled. No big deal. It doesn’t keep you from reaching your goal at the top of the hill—it’s just not going to be today.  As long as you keep pushing your body to tap its fat stores for fuel, it will. Kick back, empty the sand from your shoes and try again tomorrow.

2)   Drink something hot and tasty. Try something like a no-calorie herbal tea (lemon, mint, etc.) that you haven’t had before.

3)   Push through the crunch using some distraction. If your schedule and circumstances allow it, get busy doing something away from food. Find an activity that you like, that’s not passive and one you find flow in. If you’re at work, look for something on your to-do list that’s not tedious and requires some concentration. Some alternatives if you’re not at work:

  • Reach out to your healthy tribe.
  • Take a walk.
  • Phone a friend that you’ve intended to call.
  • Sketch an intriguing idea, dream house, a person from memory or something you can see. The sketch quality doesn’t matter; the point is to activate a different part of your brain for a while.
  • Hand-write a card or note
  • Work on your favorite craft.
  • Clean the _____ that you’ve been putting off ‘til later.
  • Find a puzzle to work on.

4)   Try one of these resets.

  • Brush your teeth. Because your body doesn’t expect you to eat soon after you brush your teeth, the minty-fresh habit loop can help snooze your appetite alarm.
  • Tell your body (Speak out loud, or at least think it in a firm, loud voice) “I’ll eat at ______ (enter your window-opening time). Now leave me alone until then!
  • Take a nap. It’s not the most productive alternative, but it can work.