One of the concepts I am learning from my Eating Psychology coaching certification program is that timing is everything. From when we introduce new concepts to our clients to when and what we feed ourselves, there is a rhyme and a rhythm that can help us get results quicker or sabotage every step.
For many of us time is of the essence. We hurry about grabbing meals on the go, eating in our cars, at our desks, and at all times of the day or night. We skimp on sleep, forgo our intentions to exercise, and collapse on the couch. The accumulated impact over time can lead to weight gain, digestive issues, sleeping challenges, you name it.
We’re a society out of sync with our rhythms. While that may not sound like a big deal, think back to the last time you traveled across multiple time zones and attempted to seal the deal on a major account as your body was desperately seeking sleep.
Our bodies really do talk to us. And not just once in a while. Like streaming video, our bodies are a constant feedback system. Our job is to listen. If we ignore the messages the body sends, it will pump up the volume.
One way I’ve learned listen to my body is to eat when I am best equipped to metabolize meals. The first meal sets the rhythm for the day.
Eating breakfast lets our bodies know the fast is over. Since there is no threat of starvation, there is no need to conserve energy and slow down metabolism. Eating breakfast heats up the fuel burning mechanism in our bellies and prepares us to process the nutrients we need to get through the day.
Metabolism moves into it’s peak when the sun is highest in the sky. By eating our biggest meal between 12-1:30pm, we deploy our best digestive agents into active duty.
Body temperature then dips between approximately 2-5pm. This explains that afternoon slump or the need to nap. Then temps start to rise again around 4-6pm.
Metabolically speaking, it makes sense to eat a healthy breakfast, substantial lunch, and moderate evening meal. Unfortunately, that’s the opposite of what people practice.
Many of us have a mini breakfast (if we eat at all), followed by a moderate lunch, and then go all out at dinner. This can be difficult pattern to change since the evening meal may be the one time your family gathers during the day. It may be the only time you have to make a meal or the first time you get to relax and unwind.
I get it. It’s a challenge for me as well. I work long hours and often times I don’t eat lunch until 2 or sometimes 3pm. I usually don’t get home until 7pm, making dinner late as well. My new goal is to eat lunch by 1:30pm. I’d also like to eat less during the evening meal (preferably before 7pm) leaving me with time to take a walk and digest my meal before going to bed.
It’s one thing to know better and an entirely different thing to do better. I share this information with you not to so you have another item on your should do list but so you gain some awareness into the part rhythm plays in our overall health and well-being.
Recovering your rhythm can take some time. You can start by experimenting with when you eat, even if you have no interest in changing what you eat. Notice how you feel. Then pay attention to when you naturally want to move, sleep, work, and play and how you feel when you honor your instincts and follow your own rhythm.
I’d love to hear about your experiences. How does the timing of meals impact you?
Share if you dare in the comments below.