Eating: It’s all about rhythm

Well, maybe not all, but rhythm is important, as I learned in this week’s chapter in The Slow Down Diet. Some of the material in this chapter didn’t pertain to me much, because I already do it and do it well. I already:
  • Eat regularly
  • Balance my macronutrients
  • Plan my daily meals and snacks
  • Get regular rest and regular play
What I do need to work on is the timing of my meals. I think I feel better with a substantial afternoon snack and a light dinner, but I’ve been cooking a lot lately, and I find that I eat more at dinner when I cook an actual recipe. Weird. When I make something like a dinner salad, or reheat some leftovers, I eat less.
Interestingly, after snacking on gorgeous vegetables (with an amazing dip that was just pureed arugula, olive oil and salt), a few tomato-and-basil bruschetta, a whole grain cracker with a bit of cheese, and some fruit at the Full Circle focus group earlier in the week, I thought “wow, this would make a great light dinner to have at home.” Some good food for thought.
The biggest revelations (for me) in this chapter were about caffeine and afternoon energy dips. I had no idea that drinking coffee on an empty stomach (which I do almost every morning, as I have a cup or two of coffee before I eat breakfast) raises cortisol (stress hormone) levels. I had also known, but totally forgotten, that we have a natural energy dip between around 2 and 5 p.m. Those two things are totally connected, because I had been drinking a cup of coffee after lunch (around 2 p.m.) to try to fight through that energy dip. I had also been continually asking myself “what’s WRONG with me” because I felt tired in the afternoons. Honestly, since reading this chapter early in the week, I have had an easier time getting through the afternoons because I’ve accepted that my energy level will be less. I’ve simply made more of an effort to arrange my work tasks so I make best use of my high-energy and low-energy times.
I thought the concept of “endless summer” was pretty great. In a nutshell, this means that when we eat refined carbohydrate foods year round, we are constantly making our bodies think we are storing up energy for hibernation (because earlier in our evolutionary history, the only time of year when our ancestors had access to high-energy foods like fruit was in the summer). I don’t eat many refined carbohydrates, but this “endless summer” concept fits in nicely with the portions of Marc David’s other book, Nourishing Wisdom, which talks about how our diets should shift with the seasons, the temperatures and our body’s needs at any given time.
I’m on vacation next week, and one exercise from this book I still need to work on from the previous chapter is eating to the point of energy. This is similar to the Okinawan concept of Hara Hachi Bu, or eating until you are 80 percent full. This has been hard for me to do. Sometimes I’m able to do it, but sometimes I think I have…but then realize that I’m a little too close to being actually full. It’s a skill I really want to develop, because I think having that skill will reduce or eliminate the need to count calories or measure portions.
Next week’s lesson is in “The Metabolic Power of Pleasure.” Should be interesting!