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The Girlfriend Doctor w/ Dr. Anna Cabeca

Mar 3, 2022

Cynthia Thurlow tells the story of how a serious health scare, complete with ruptured appendix and complications, put her on the path to functional nutrition and helping people heal through food and healthy lifestyle changes. Learn about how intermittent fasting plays into perimenopause and your menstrual cycle, when it’s appropriate, and how to avoid the most common mistakes people make when fasting.

  • [2:00] Cynthia worked as an ER nurse for 16 years before working in critical care and cardiology. Having a child with life threatening food allergies put her down the path of thinking of food as medicine with a functional nutrition program. Lifestyle medicine has become Cynthia’s main focus now after waking up in 2016 and feeling like she couldn’t write another prescription that doesn’t treat the root cause of the issue.
  • [4:20] Cynthia started attracting other women who felt like their needs weren’t being heard. She did a lot of work around nutrition and group programs. In an effort to stretch herself, Cynthia challenged herself to do a Ted Talk about her perimenopause experience, and later on, a second one about intermittent fasting.
  • [6:20] A ruptured appendix turned into a huge number of complications. Manifestation played a big part in Cynthia’s recovery.
  • [8:15] There is a huge amount of confusion around menopause and perimenopause. In 2015, Cynthia’s life was far more stressful than she realized and it created the perfect storm for perimenopause. She was doing all the wrong things and woke up one day exhausted, gaining weight, and facing down new food sensitivities.
  • [10:50] When Cynthia went to her OBGYN, she was offered synthetic hormones, an IUD, and even a hysterectomy. She had to reroute everything in her life to focus on healing including prioritizing sleep, reducing her training, changing her diet, and reducing her work load.
  • [12:05] Most of us don’t have to worry about stress management in our 20’s and 30’s, and perimenopause is a barometer to let us know if we’re balancing the parasympathetic and sympathetic autonomic nervous system.
  • [13:05] We don’t give prevention enough credit in maintaining health.
  • [15:05] For both Cynthia and Dr. Anna, their experiences are what brought them to where they are now in life and they wouldn’t be doing the meaningful work they do without them.
  • [16:25] It’s important to honor the rhythm of your menstrual cycle. The ideal time to fast is the time period right after menstruation and before ovulation. Additional stress during the five to seven days preceding the cycle can be particularly disruptive.
  • [18:40] Progesterone is often prescribed during perimenopause, but it’s important to take days off during the week. Prolonged progesterone supplementation increases insulin resistance.
  • [22:45] Cynthia has had fantastic success treating type 2 diabetes and women who are insulin resistant with intermittent fasting but it has to be treated with caution. If you’ve suffered from anorexia, intermittent fasting may not be a safe option. Have a conversation with your doctor or psychologist to ensure you’re at an appropriate stage in your recovery to begin fasting.
  • [25:10] If you’re not sleeping through the night, don’t add intermittent fasting. Adding another stressor isn’t going to help. Figure out why you aren’t sleeping first and once that’s been addressed intermittent fasting can be the missing piece of the puzzle for your health.
  • [26:30] As we get older, we don’t manage stress levels the same way we did when we were in our 20’s. It’s critically important that we take care of ourselves so that we can utilize a strategy like intermittent fasting to improve our health. You’ll get the best results if you can moderate the lifestyle pieces first and then integrate it into your lifestyle.
  • [28:05] Cynthia’s book came out of her successful Ted Talk and it’s essentially a blueprint for successful fasting, specifically for women.
  • [29:25] There is a difference between clean and dirty fasting. Clean fasting is all about black coffee and bitter tea, and breaking your fast in the right way at the right time. Some of the common mistakes that people make is having BCAA or protein powder during a fast in the belief that the calories are low so it doesn’t count.
  • [31:30] When you’re starting out, it’s important to support your body’s detoxing process. Replacing the electrolytes your body is losing during a fast is crucial to sticking with it.
  • [34:15] Extended fasting can be beneficial, but it takes some effort to work up to. There are plenty of ways to look at fasting to make it sustainable and attainable.
  • [35:20] A teaspoon of MCT oil is okay while fasting, but more than that can push you out of your fasting window. If you’re just starting out and need a fatty coffee to get you through the early days of fasting, that’s okay.




Mentioned in this Episode:

Intermittent Fasting Transformation by Cynthia Thurlow




Always seek the advice of your own physician or qualified health professional before starting any treatment or plans. Information found here and results are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and are not intended as medical advice.



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