Ask a Health Coach: When Should I Eat?
Hi Guys! Erin Power is back this week to answer your questions about when to eat. If you are wondering whether to have breakfast, how to avoid being starved after an overland flight, or the best way to barbecue in the summer, this post should not be missed. Keep sharing your questions on our Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook page or in the comments below.
“I’m not usually a breakfast eater. Should I force myself to eat breakfast even if I am not hungry in the morning? “
I am a front loader when it comes to food. That means I attach great importance to my first meal of the day. And you should do it too if you want to avoid the mentality of grazing and eating every three hours, which I think is totally at odds with the way we should feed ourselves.
Assuming you’re working your first shift, it makes sense to refuel the day before you go. Schedule your most nutritious meal in the morning – or whenever it is your first meal of the day. Remember breakfast is when you break your fast. It doesn’t have to be 6 a.m. when you wake up. It could be 8 a.m. or 11 a.m. or 2 p.m.
But what if you are not hungry?
If you don’t feel hungry when you wake up, you are not alone. Most people’s daily food intake looks something like this:
- Eat as little as possible throughout the day, constantly thinking about what you are going to eat and when you can eat it
- Decide that you can’t take it anymore and enjoy a huge dinner
- Feeling unsaturated, so you keep snacking until bedtime
- Still waking up full, likely with undigested food in your system
Break the nightly eating cycle
As a health coach, I help my clients break old habits that no longer serve them. Having a big dinner late at night not only prevents you from feeling hungry in the morning, it also disrupts your sleep cycle and prevents you from becoming metabolically flexible.
I usually recommend my clients * force * a morning meal with protein and fat. I’m not saying to eat past your satiety levels, but if you usually start your day with a quick protein bar and coffee or a yogurt and banana, you are honoring your body by setting yourself up for a full meal of eggs, bacon, and more Sit down vegetables and then taper from there.
How to be hungry for breakfast
Of course, when you come for dinner you want a smaller dinner (and want to eat it earlier). And you won’t be tempted to have a bite to eat all night to make up for the calories and nutrients you missed earlier in the day. You will also be more likely to have a great night of undisturbed sleep from not working on digesting that bag of trail mix late into the night or waking up to a spike in your cortisol.
Research shows that habitual breakfast skippers are more likely to be chronic dieters, meaning their relationship with food resides in the fussy warehouse that follows the rules. But there’s a difference between skipping breakfast and grabbing a frappuccino on the way to work, skipping breakfast because you’re still full from dinner the previous night, and skipping breakfast because the first meal comes in a little later the day falls.
Remember, your first meal is your breakfast – it is the meal that you break your fast with. So if it’s later in the day it’s not a big deal. When you’re not hungry, start cutting back on your dinner and evening intake, and if you typically opt for a sugary coffee drink rather than a protein-rich breakfast sitting down, consider shifting your priorities there or work with a certified health coach together who can help you establish new, healthier habits.
“I’ve just got back to work and will be making several flights across the country over the next few months. What are some paleo-friendly snacks I can bring on board to avoid getting starved upon landing? “
First, let me say that you don’t have to refuel on a three or four hour flight. Or three or four hours. Sitting on an airplane is quite a sedentary activity. You’d never worry about stirring up a few hours of Netflix binge or a night of sleep, would you?
Unless you are diabetic or have been diagnosed with an illness that requires you to eat more frequently, your body is designed to last hours without food.
Plan ahead to prevent hunger pangs
Sure, it might be your habit to be prepared – especially when you’re at an airport full of standard American diet items like pretzels, cookies, and sodas in the cart, but your body can do without food. Trust me.
If you really can’t hold out that long without feeling badly hungry, your metabolism may need a little TLC. Hunger, which feels like an emergency after sitting motionless for a few hours, is not normal. Well, it’s normal for most people, unfortunately, but if you mainly eat paleo and you still feel hungry from time to time, your diet may need to make a few adjustments:
- Eat more. In general, you just eat more. Just because you aren’t eating grains or legumes you could find yourself in a situation where you are constantly depriving your muscles and cells of energy and nutrients. Even if you won’t be on a plane for most of the day, practice eating more earlier in the day and see how you feel.
- Eat more protein. I don’t have a specific gram count as I’m not a macro counter and really don’t like anything that feels fussy, but Mark has a comprehensive post on protein intake that you can read for more information. My basic rule of thumb is that when you’re hungry or low on energy, adding more protein to your meals is a good place to start.
- Eat more fat. Fat is a very filling macronutrient (which also gives excellent satisfaction and deliciousness to food). So make it a habit to access it regularly. Some of my favorite sources of fat are avocado and avocado oils, grass-fed meats, and nuts and nut butters.
Taking care of your metabolism allows you to use your body’s built-in system to extract the fuel it needs to weather a food shortage situation, including an overland flight.
“My family is planning to meet again this summer and no one eats like me. I don’t want to act rude and bring my own food and I think I could eat beforehand, but how do you see the best way to deal with this event without falling off the cart? I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am. “
For some people it was easy to eat in isolation. Your decisions will not be judged, you will not be tempted by regular barbecues and happy hours. You are in your own world and you feel great about it. But now that we are nearing the end of the pandemic – and long-awaited parties, vacations, and reunions are planned, I feel an encouraging conversation is in order.
We often assume that someone will question our beliefs about eating in public. We tend to isolate ourselves (even in social situations) to avoid the risk of being seen as weird or one of those “healthy people” or worse, “on a health kick”.
Explain your food choices
First of all, you never have to explain how you eat or why you are eating it. There is something very powerful about the use of the words “no thanks”, as can be seen in the following examples:
- Someone offers you pasta salad? “No thanks.”
- Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies? “No thanks.”
- A refill of your wine? “No thanks.”
Strengthen yourself by setting a firm limit. The way you eat is none of your business except you. You don’t owe anyone an explanation and certainly don’t need to justify or defend yourself, but eating and partying go hand in hand and there is no need to deprive yourself Just to stay on track
BYOS (bring your own snacks)
When it comes to parties, I live by the acronym: BYOSSNDMSS.
In other words, bring your own filling, satisfying, nutrient-rich, metabolism-supporting snacks. It’s a bite, hence the abbreviation. If you see me at a party, I’ll be the one delivering the sausage plate for an app or the chocolate peanut butter fat bombs for dessert.
I don’t know about you, but foods like sausage, cheese, nuts, olives, and pickles, and dark chocolate and peanut butter are some of my favorites. And guess what, they tend to be a crowd puller for non-prime eaters as well.
Bringing your own metabolism support snacks will be contributing to the party and not being rude in bringing your own food. You are also not trying to switch someone to a paleo way of eating, but simply sharing your love for delicious (nutrient-dense) food. It will also keep you and others from reaching for the less healthy chips, dips, and cupcakes.
And if you’re looking for more tips, here are more ways to control the judgment of the partiers you might encounter this summer.
Having trouble figuring out when to eat? Share your thoughts below.
About the author
Erin Power is the coaching and curriculum director of the Primal Health Coach Institute. She also helps her clients reestablish a loving and trusting relationship with their body – while restoring their metabolic health so they can lose fat and gain energy – through her own private health coaching practice eat.simple.
If you are passionate about health and wellness and have a desire to help people like Erin does for her clients every day, consider becoming a self-certified health coach. Learn the 3 Easy Steps to Building a Successful Health Coaching Business in 6 Months or Less in this dedicated info session hosted by PHCI Co-Founder Mark Sisson.
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