Thursday, September 16, 2010

On the timing of eating


I went to a Wellbeing conference last Saturday. Like some things, the structure was a little cumbersome and some of the speakers were not a good fit for the overall intention of the event. But one speaker was captivating. I took pages of notes. You know those people who have scads of great one liners and hints and tips and reel them off as if they're nothing and you're struggling to keep up with writing it all down? I could feel myself getting motivated just sitting there, before I had even had the chance to put anything he was saying into practice.

I wanted to share a few things that I learned. Some of it I know already, but like any good procrastinator knows (and I should have made a career of it, surely there are several where procrastination is an excellent prerequisite) I always forget that I know. Crazy.

With regards to the old fable, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so eat a big one":  We were advised that first thing in the morning is really not ideal (in terms of digestive 'fire', or ability) to take in a big meal. Or any food, really. If hungry, of course, the best thing is to eat something. But some people, like me, are simply not hungry in the morning. Not for several hours. I can understand why we're told to eat breakfast - it is, also for people like me, so that we don't go the entire day without eating a thing..... something that has caused my metabolism to keel over and go the way of a fish out of water. Incredibly detrimental to someone trying to lose weight!

So, instead, this week I committed myself to trying this - a freshly juiced vege and/or fruit juice (spruced up with a bit of stimulating fresh ginger root and turmeric, the all-round antibiotic, anti-histamine, toxin-absorbing wonder spice). It has been satisfying enough for my belly to have just juice in it, a very tasty brew, until around 9.30-10am.

This is convenient. Why? Because the optimal time during daylight hours for our bodies to digest - when they are at their optimal digestive peaks (and when they will break down and distribute food most effectively) is between 10am-2pm. During this four-ish hour stretch, I have been eating one or two (if I feel like it, or if I've eaten for the first time earlier than 10am) meals like scrambled eggs on toast, salmon sandwiches and salad, tuna salad and so forth, all of which have been satisfying me right through to late afternoon snack time (3pm-4pm). This time, incidentally, is also the best time for our bodies to ingest fruit. So I've been slicing up strawberries, apples and pear, amongst other things, and having a plate. It's been more than enough to get me through to supper. And we have been having 'proper suppers' here - literally, only anything you can 'sup' (sip). I made a green soup out of fried up garlic, white beans and zucchini (soooo delicious even Steve the anti-soup man ate it) with avocado on toast. So, we cheated with the toast bit. Mind you, 'light' eating can also involve fish or chicken, with pastas, couscous, potatoes... - just not your heavier meats, and not huge servings of anything.

They were really the key things the speaker specified. And it's so true - we just need to keep things simple. We live in an age where scientific facts are taken out of context from a healthy, balanced (key point!) lifestyle and are told to eat less/no carb's because they are 'bad for you' if you want to lose weight. Or graze throughout the day - small meals, often - which is (also surprising to learn) counter-productive to maintaining good digestive health. And so forth. I could go on, just with the stuff I've retained off the top of my head, without even going to my notes.

Having invariably followed the basic points of the conference speaker for five days now, I have to say I feel far lighter and more buoyant heading into the latter part of the week. This is including (or in spite of) the weird tummy bug I had at the beginning of the week that rendered me useless on Tuesday all day.

While I'm not exercising yet enough in my routine to be losing weight (not that I'd know for certain, I haven't weighed myself in months as our scales don't work), certainly not toning up anyway, I just feel so much more able to move around. I don't feel sluggish, I'm not waking up feeling like I have half a brick in my stomach. So the bounce and ability to get out of bed with a bit of a spring has been a welcome surprise. My body feels vital, in a word. Something I had been lacking, even with wheelbarrows full of vegies in my diet. I think I have just been eating at the wrong times (for my body).

I'm going to stick at this eating light at night thing, along with the biggest meal between 10am-2pm and a light if not liquid breakie (which suits me because of my slow-to-start appetite but may not be ideal for some who wake up ravenous) to see the long-term effect.

Just as an aside, interesting point to note and wondering if anyone else had ever noticed this, on that "waking up starving" thing.... I do get that too, but have noticed that it happens largely when I have over-eaten close to bedtime the night before.

And now, I don't have to do one of those medical disclaimer thingies do I? When I tell you all I'm not a doctor and advice in this post should not be substituted for the professional opinions of your health care provider? (Although, just quietly, that "eat a big breakfast" baloney which had me fooled really is something not to pass up without consideration or trial........ I'm just sayin'..... it may also work for you, if you're looking to change up your eating habits a bit. And while I had to pay $85 for the privilege of this information, and more, I'll give you that tip for free ;)

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