Meals Like Clockwork

Image via WebMD

One of the biggest surprises for me of my newest schedule has been how stabilizing it is to have regular meals. . . . I know, duh, right? It sounds so easy, so integral that is should be obvious, but it wasn’t for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I have made attempts at regulating my meal times. I would eat before I went to work each day; if I packed a lunch, I would eat lunch; and I usually came home from work and ate food at night time; but this time it seems different and my best guess is: time.

For the first time in my life, I am walking into the kitchen for breakfast expecting to spend at least 30 minutes in there making and eating breakfast. I know that dinner is going to take about an hour to make each night and another 15-20 minutes of clean up. I know that lunch is usually warmed up leftovers or a big salad.

When I was in a good schedule at my last job, I would try to cook two or three times a week and have lots of leftovers packed and ready for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I found I would usually come home so exhausted and so hungry that cooking was the VERY LAST THING I wanted to do. It seemed to work if I would warm up dinner (something I had made previously) eat, relax for a bit, then cook a meal for the next day or two. There just was not time for cooking—or so it felt to me. I felt pushed to get to work in the morning and I felt exhausted when I got home. This led to one of my worst eating habits—skipping breakfast, skipping lunch, snacking on anyting at 3:00pm because of roaring hunger, and grabbing fast food on the way home from work only to collapse in exhaustion on the couch when I got home. That was the spectrum of eating and cooking I was on. It felt like there was very little time or energy to enjoy cooking or food.

Having the time to allow myself to cook regular meals each day and capitalizing on that time has invigorated me. Eating regular meals has several advantages: stabilizes my blood sugar (big issue with metabolic syndrome, prediabetes and hyperinsulinemia), comforts me emotionally and psychologically (no more guessing when or what I am going to eat for my next meal), inoculates me against random fast food splurges when I am in my car (I have either just eaten or know exactly what I am eating in a couple of hours), stabilizes my energy (no more 3pm blood sugar swings), and nourishes my body.

It has also opened up a new window into emotional eating for me. I have debated back and forth whether I am an emotional eater. Of course, there are the times I fall face first into a pound of chocolate that I know I am eating emotionally. But with my irregularity of eating or my boredom with eating the same meals over and over again, most of the time when I was eating, I was legitimately hungry and needed nourishment so it made it very hard to separate hunger for nourishment from hunger for comfort. With my meals planned, scheduled with adequate time for cooking, and happening like clockwork, I can now see that my reach for a treat at 4:00pm is not so much about hunger but because I am worrying over a task for work; or that flood of hunger cues at 10:00am is not so much about eating real food but because I am avoiding a project that is on a deadline and I don’t know how to begin it; or that hunt for potato chips at the grocery store is more about stressing over finances that day rather than a true need for my body to ingest potatoes.

I like to think I am experiencing my own personal rehab. I keep to a strict sleep, eating, and exercising schedule. Combined with time for writing and religious study each day those are the must dos in my life. Everything else is on the back burner and plays second fiddle. Regular meals of real, whole, nourishing food are a backbone of any healing protocol and they are helping me to feel better and better every day.


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