I went out to dinner recently with the mom of a two-month old. She seemed ravenous, gorging on the chips and salsa that the waiter had just placed on our table. Between bites, she confessed, "Today all I've had so far is a Fiber One bar and a Lean Cuisine lunch. I'm famished!" We laughed with her, as she all but sucked on the tablecloth where a little salsa had spilled, but I was also troubled to hear her say this. Eating so little was not only impacting her, but also her little one. How could she possibly sustain both of them on a meager protein bar and a processed frozen dinner? The "feast or famine" diet leads to poor choices and mood swings hinging on the time of day and the setting of the stomach (empty or full). And it doesn't happen only to those who can't afford food or are living in a food desert. It can happen to all of us who simply neglect the basics of self-care.
I have witnessed the same inattention to nourishment in my own home, to be honest. The cabinets and fridge are full of good food, but in the busyness of life, not everyone avails themselves of it. When I check in with family members as they come home from work, they often complain of feeling stressed or anxious. I ask "What have you eaten today?" The answers run the gamut from "a chai latte and a bag of chips" to "nothing, pretty much." The lack of nutrients has left them depleted and feeling on edge. I recognize it because I've been there, too.
Did you know that having a regular eating routine is good for you? I'm not even talking about what's on the plate (though obviously I consider this important, too). Right now, I'm addressing the timing of meals and snacks. I suppose this is on my mind because I recently interviewed Philip Weeks, author of "Make yourself better." Philip is from the U.K. and he told me, in his brilliant British accent, “We can’t work completely erratic lifestyles and be healthy. It’s not going to happen." He discussed the importance of routine, and emphasized the benefits of eating at the same time every day. He attributed the routine of the British people to their survival and sanity. While London was under siege, during the Second World War, the people would take their tea and meals at the usual time. It was something their bodies relied on, and that gave them a sense of comfort and continuity. Routine is a de-stressor.
Being Hispanic, and, well, just being me, I have to admit that my schedule tends to be quite fluid and, yes, sometimes erratic. Philip's words have given me food for thought. I am working on my daily life routine (turning off the laptop at 11, getting in bed by midnight, etc.) I think this should help me in terms of normalizing my mealtimes, as well. What about you? What's your schedule like, in general, and in terms of eating? Are you unintentionally on the "feast or famine" diet? Comment below with ideas on how to get on a more regular schedule for both your body and your spirit. I look forward to learning from you (which I always do).
By the way, my entire conversation with Phillip will be aired on Monday. You can go to iTunes or Stitcher now, and subscribe or wait till Monday and look for the episode called "Make yourself better."