English Conversation Practice About Fasting
Summary: English Conversation Practice
Today we learn to speak English through listening and talking about fasting.
The British talk about their health almost as much as the weather (OK the British talk about the weather much more than anything else!). In today's lesson we practice a lot of vocabulary about health and we practice using numbers and simple mathematics in English.
The UK, like many English-speaking countries is suffering an obesity crisis, it seems we're all getting fat and getting all the illnesses you typically get when your over weight. It’s getting so bad that the people who deal with these problems are panicking.
“If nothing changes, more than five million people will have diabetes in the UK by 2025.” source: www.diabetes.org.uk
Audio Transcript: English Conversation Practice About Fasting
Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. Today we’re going to tackle a subject for interest which will help you with your English conversation practice. I think what’s really useful sometimes as a language learner is if you just get to listen to ordinary conversation topics. Natural spoken English, as though I’m just having a conversation, a chat if you like, with you. This is the best type of listening practice.
So I’m going to tell you about something which is really commonplace in the UK and which lots of people do for their health, I’m going to look at the history of it and then right at the end of the podcast, I’ll tell you about the benefits. You never know – you may be persuaded to take it up yourself!
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The word ‘fast
So I just thought I’d share with you some information about diet and health for our English conversation practice today. Lots of people in the UK do something called intermittent fasting. There are all kinds of benefits, lots of positive effects from this and it’s an idea you may already have come across. It’s good for your health and it helps you lose weight. But first of all, vocabulary. You probably know the word ‘fast’ as an adjective already – F-A-S-T, which means quick, speedy, not slow. OK, but there is another use of the word ‘fast’ in English – it can also be the verb ‘to fast’. And when it’s used as a verb, it means to go without food. To not eat. So when I say ‘fasting’, it’s just the noun made from the verb ‘to fast’. So fasting is a very common practice – lots of people do it. And ‘intermittent fasting’? Well, intermittent means that you do it on and off, in a regular pattern. So you do it every week.
Fasting as part of religious practice
Now fasting has a long history in the context of religion. If you’re Jewish, then you may fast when it is the day of atonement, Yom Kippur. If you’re a Muslim, you follow Islam, then you’re likely to fast when it is Ramadan, during daylight hours. And fasting is a big part of religious practice for Hindus. In Christianity, fasting was more of a practice in ancient times, following the example of Jesus, fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. So more English conversation practice around vocabulary for various religions.
Fasting for Health
But fasting for health and well-being has also been around for a while too. It’s been known for a long time that it sharpens the mind – it makes your brain work more effectively – and this is why fasting goes alongside contemplation when it’s done for religious reasons. Contemplation – from the verb ‘to contemplate’ means to think deeply – like you might if you were fasting because of your religion.
Now however, we have proof, we have evidence both from medical research and from neuroscience research, that fasting is good for you. Neuroscience is the science which studies the brain. There are lots of health benefits – advantages for your health and well-being from fasting.
The idea was promoted a few years ago in the UK, by a doctor turned journalist called Michael Mosley. He continues to write books and make television programmes about health and his particular interest is in what we call ‘preventative medicine’. So ‘preventative’ is an adjective and it comes from the verb ‘to prevent’, meaning to stop something from happening. If I prevented you from parking your car, it might mean I went and stood in the parking space and stopped you from parking there. So preventative medicine is interesting – it’s the science of trying to prevent disease, trying to stop the illness from happening, rather than trying to treat the illness or the disease, once it’s arrived. So ‘preventative medicine’ is surely the way forward? Let’s discover what we can do to help ourselves stay healthy. And as science becomes more and more sophisticated in its understanding of how our human bodies work, then we can test out what’s good for us, what’s good ‘preventative medicine’.
Fasting Made Popular in the UK
So Michael Mosley tried fasting himself and monitored, observed the effect on his body and he found that it had all kinds of positive effects. I’ll list the positive effects of fasting at the end of the podcast – you might be interested in trying it for yourself. Michael Mosley found it so easy to do and therefore successful, that he wrote a book on it and promoted his method of fasting, which is well-known in the UK as the 5:2 diet. Now it’s called 5:2 because you eat normally for five days of the week and you fast for two days of the week. And on the 5:2 diet, it means that you only get to eat 500 calories on each of your fast days. So it’s not a complete fast – you do get to eat. But if you’ve ever tried doing this, 500 calories is not very much for a whole day, so it can be quite a challenge if you’ve not done it before.
What’s interesting is that lots of people took up this diet when it first was suggested – and many of them are still using it. I’ve been doing it for around 4 years now – and it’s a brilliant way of making sure I don’t put on any weight. It’s really hard not to gain weight on our western diet, but this method works for me. I weigh around the same as I did four years ago when I started. So if you want English conversation practice, if someone starts to talk about their ‘5:2’, you’ll now know exactly what they mean.
But there are other ways of doing intermittent fasting – not just the 5:2. Some people take this diet and they do a variant. A variant, V-A-R-I-A-N-T just means a slightly different version. A variant of something means that it’s just changed slightly, it’s almost the same. Some people find that doing 6:1 is enough – so six days of normal eating each week and one day of fast, while others choose to do 4:3 – so four days of normal eating and three days of fasting. That’s a bit harder. However, you can also do intermittent fasting by say doing all your eating between 12pm, twelve midday and 8 o’clock in the evening. And then you just don’t eat anything after 8 o’clock and you fast effectively until twelve midday the next day. So really what you’re doing here is having 8 hours during the day, when you can eat – and 16 hours overnight when you fast.
One of the reasons why these diets are so effective is that people stick to them. It’s not really a diet, it’s more a lifestyle change. So even if you have to be careful with your calories on your fast days, the rest of the time you’re not counting calories, you eat normally. Except that, what you find is that after a fast day, you can’t eat as much as usual! It resets your appetite – and your appetite A-P-P-E-T-I-T-E means ‘the amount you want’, ‘the amount you want to eat’. So you might use the word appetite like this ‘I’ve been ill, so I’ve had no appetite’ or ‘He has a huge appetite for fruit and vegetables’. So fasting is good because it resets your appetite – you appreciate your food much more, but you actually eat less.
Let’s Work Out the Calories
So let’s do a bit of English conversation practice around numbers here. The 5:2 diet keeps your weight down because actually you’re only eating 500 calories for two days of the week. So let’s work this out.
If you normally eat an average of 2,000 calories a day, then you will eat 14,000 calories in a week. Using the 5:2 fasting example: [so] If for 2 days a week you eat only 500 calories and then for 5 days of the week you eat 2000 calories. You’ll consume 11,000 calories overall in a week. So that’s the same as an average of 1,500 calories a day (it’s slightly more but let’s keep the numbers simple). So another way of saying this, using the 5:2 diet, you reduce the average number of calories that you eat in a week overall by 25%. English conversation practice around numbers – did you follow that? If you didn’t, see if you can understand it when you listen again. Basically, part of the way 5:2 works is that you’re using fewer calories, or you’re eating fewer calories overall, in a given week.
These Health Benefits May Surprise You
Now I promised you at the end of this podcast, I’d let you know some of the other health benefits of fasting. And actually they’re much more important than just reducing the number of calories that you eat so that you can maintain a healthy weight. You may have to look up some of these medical words – or you may find that they’re the same or similar in your language. But I’ll leave you to work these meanings out. So here’s a series of true statements about fasting.
- Intermittent fasting helps your levels of insulin, so that you’re much less likely to get diabetes.
- Intermittent fasting is good for your heart – you’re less likely to have heart disease, high cholesterol or high blood pressure
- It’s been proved that intermittent fasting increases your life span – on average people who fast live longer.
- Fasting causes the cells in your body to repair faster.
- Intermittent fasting means that you’re less likely to get cancer.
- And finally...intermittent fasting is good for your brain. It reduces the chance of getting all the major diseases of the brain, like Alzheimers. It reduces inflammation, control of insulin is better for the brain. And fasting increases the chemicals in your brain which help renew and repair brain cells.
All of this is proven fact – there’s medical evidence for all of this. So if you didn’t know about fasting, then research it yourself and see if it’s something that you might like to do. And you may ask ‘Is it difficult to fast?’ Well, my answer would be you get used to it. It’s easier when you’ve done it a few times. You develop your own habits. You find out what works for you. It’s best to keep busy – stay out of the kitchen, stay away from other people who’re eating and whatever you do, don’t nibble!
There’s a word for you to look up, ‘nibble’ - if you don’t know it! So there you are, English conversation practice, which may also be good for your health!
Anyway, enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
PS: Nearly half the UK will be overweight by 2045 if we do nothing to prevent it
“According to a recent study conducted by University College London, 48% of Britons will be obese by 2045 if current trends are not halted.” source: www.healthassured.org
We British need to get worried about fixing the obesity problem, we need to change the “eat cheap” culture and eat local produced healthy whole foods. It’s too large a problem to fix in one podcast, but just walking down any UK high-street you will see people whose weight is out of control. So we fast, and it works for us, it costs no money. It saves you some money, but It needs willpower.
Anyway, back to learning to speak English, the point of making our lessons interesting is to keep you interested enough in the subject to listen to the audio several times. It’s the repeat listening that helps your brain recognise sounds and patterns, words and phrases that are important enough to store in your longer term memory. You need to hear a word (and the context of the sentence) over 20 times before you brain sees it as important. Our job is to give you discussions and stories that will keep you interested long enough for the words to get embedded in your head.
You can always find more interesting learn English articles here.