Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Opinion | What is the first thing you do in the morning?

My interest in intermittent fasting has done one important thing: it has eliminated the worry of morning food and drink rituals

What is the first thing you do in the morning? Have you put much thought into it? What will you do first on the first morning of the first day of the new year? My admissions might comfort you. I have gone through phases where I’ve swilled virgin coconut oil in my mouth to telling people I love them to 100 jumping jacks before settling on a much easier option.

I learnt about the phrase “intermittent fasting" less than a month ago—it is where you fast for 12-14 hours a day and eventually ramp up to 16-18 hours a day to ease your body from round-the-clock metabolic duty. And while I have, over the last several years, been braving the company of inconvenient people who make dinner plans and then say “I don’t eat carbs after 7pm" while I’m forking through spaghetti, they hadn’t quite given it a name. Ever since I was introduced to intermittent fasting, however, the internet wants to tell me more about it everyday, people are discussing it at dinner parties and yes, we even got a pitch for a story on intermittent fasting and pastry chef Pooja Dhingra speaks about it as a definitive health plan in her interview too.

There is a name for this phenomenon: The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, also known as the frequency illusion or recency bias, occurs when something you have just experienced or been told about begins to crop up all around you. At one time this might have been true for my introduction to new music bands. These days, in my newfound drive for by-the-book wellness, every new fad I hear about seems to have speedily reached everyone else.

I decided to become an intermittent faster as of this week to trick this Baader-Meinhof phenomenon—curiously named after a 1970s West German terrorist group—into giving me something lovelier next.

My interest in intermittent fasting has done one important thing: it has eliminated the worry of morning food and drink rituals. In the last few years, I had taken to having warm water with lemon and honey first thing in the morning. After some other kind of Baader-Meinhof-ing where apple cider vinegar was suddenly hailed as a panacea (where both you and I can be sure we had never seen it in our kitchens growing up), I added it to the mix. Later, I replaced pasteurized honey with raw honey. Life is dynamic for an easily influenced wellness fiend.

I asked beauty and wellness writer Vasudha Rai, the author of Glow (Penguin Random House India), a handy new book on Indian food recipes and rituals “for beauty, inside and out"—she is also the writer of our intermittent fasting piece. She drinks a litre of water and does Pranayam these days but tells me she used to have a much longer morning routine. Geeta Rao, former beauty director at Vogue and now creative director of Geeta’s List, says she splashes her eyes while holding in a mouthful of water and does a couple of rounds of Bhramari Pranayam. Actor Simone Singh, who can talk more eloquently about mineral balancing and stearates in vitamin packaging than anyone else I know, tells me she has settled on black tea with ginger and organic jaggery for winter but that she tweaks the proportions for summer. These are women with a deep interest in wellness.

What is the first thing you do in the morning? You can do better than “check my phone".

She tweets at @aninditaghose

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