Ignore-the-Clock-Listen-To-Your-Body Diet

Post by Sharon

We were told as kids to have a good breakfast before school, to have lunch at the allotted noontime in the cafeteria, to be home for supper at twilight. 

Even into the adult work world, we were conditioned to think in terms of meals three times of the day. 

When you were a kid, if parents didn't intercede, you could play, stop and grab something to eat, run off with a snack, and when told it was suppertime, if you had no appetite yet, you stared down your plate. And your parents stared you down until you cleaned your plate.

As a woman who had been in the role of wife for 26 years, I know the three-meals routine very well. In fact, it helped contribute to steady weight gain. I was no longer listening to my body as I had all my life (and being slender), and my body was wondering why I was forcing myself to sit and eat every five hours while awake. 

When I stopped and looked at my eating patterns, I realized something. When I am not forced to create meals or feel obligated to remain in the indoctrinated feed wagon routine, my body knew what it needed and when.

I wake up in the morning and I really don't want breakfast. I want liquids. I have plain coffee and water. I then start my morning routine on the computer.

When I feel a sense of hunger, it's usually a twinge around 10 a.m. That's when I think about something with fiber. I might magic bullet fruits and veggies and drink it or have a bowl of fiber-rich cereal or oatmeal. I want chewy and I want fiber. This is a great body urge as it's not screaming for sugar yet. I'm just pang'ed enough to want a mid morning something.

The clock strikes noon and I'm not feeling it. I know the schedule says "eat lunch!" but I'm just not wanting a meal. 

I continue my activities and drink water and eventually around 1-2 p.m., I feel pangs. This is more likely the time my body wants things like some hard cheese, fruit, nuts, or yogurt smoothie. Maybe I'll do cream cheese, ham, carrots, cucumbers in a tortilla rolled up and cut into pinwheels.

By late afternoon, I am wanting something meaty. I might take some shredded chicken out of the fridge to make some bbq chicken for an open-faced sandwich, or sausage and eggs, maybe some stir fry, or a salad with seared ahi tuna.

The pang-treatment eats for me usually involve things like pickles, bone broth, cheese, nuts, salami, salad, juicy ripe fruit, crudites, or smoothies.

If I'm left to my own devices and don't have to make meals for someone who is rigid about the life-long trained "schedule," then I tend to get what I need staggered throughout the day.

The key here is I don't make myself eat a whole lot of food all at once when I'm not even feeling hungry because the clock says I must "meal."

A meal can always be there for you if you want something substantial, but always stop and ask, "am I really hungry or is the clock taunting and nagging me?"

I've found meal prep containers and mason jars to be fantastically helpful. 

I put nuts and seeds into mason jars and dried fruits like cranberries, apricots and dates. They are lined up in the cabinet to give me add-in's for oatmeal, yogurt, chicken salad, or even snack munching. 

The meal prep containers I will put water in, clean and slice carrots into spears and put in one container with water, another container has spears of celery, and another has slices of cucumber in water. This helps keep them fresh longer. I can change the water every couple days. When I want crudites or am cooking, I pull them out and take what I need.

In some meal prep containers I also put things like salami or pepperoni and cheese with nuts. Snack pack options. 

I also leave bananas on the counter and avocado. 

I hard boil some eggs and cut the egg carton in half, putting the uncooked eggs in the lidded half and pulling the lid off the other half to expose the cooked ones. I keep whole grain bagels, tortillas and cream cheese (I like jalepeno flavor) in the fridge. Pickles, olives, pickled beets, pickled veggies, pickled okra sit in the door of the fridge. I buy the tuna packets that have ranch or buffalo flavoring - great on Triscuits.

I also use the containers for freezing things like a batch of stuffed pasta or chicken strips and other meal-like items I've made and stored for quick heating when hungry. I can also make rice or quinoa and put in them to have later. Those tortillas can be cheese crisps, or salad mix or quinoa, veggies, lunch meat, cheese, cream cheese, salad dressing inside, and you have great roll-ups.

Salad is always my favorite way to get raw micronutrients into my body without being stuffed feeling. I can put leftover cooked chicken on them or seared tuna. I also enjoy having the crudites around and fresh fruit so I have grab and go munchy items that give me bang for the buck in nutrition.

Consider having quinoa salad, rice, cut veggies in water, cooked lentils, hunks of cheese and dried meats, hash, cooked chicken, bean salad, chicken salad, and other easy to scoop out and use items in the containers so you can mix and match for grazing.

I've found that if you spend the time at grocery day to cut, clean, store, cook, freeze items, you have a wide array of possibilities for healthy grazing. 

You still want to hit the protein, fiber, micronutrient, healthy fats categories, you just need to have the right items around. Shop for healthy grain cereal, whole grain (not whole wheat) breads, lots of low-sodium soups, Triscuit or other whole grain crackers, good hard cheese, dried meat like salami or pepperoni or jerky that last long when stored, pickled items, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, fruits to freeze and whirl, salad greens, veggies that can be half used on salads and half diced up and frozen for stir fry. Fresh fruit in season. Dried fruits and nuts. Quinoa, sweet potatoes, rice....

I'm not a registered nutritionist, I am just a person who looks back over her life and where she went off the rail with weight, health, and diet. When I tried to fit into the concept of meals at 8 am, 12 pm, and 5 pm, I found that I didn't have the capacity to stuff all that food into my belly and digesting it seemed to make me groggy. Instead, since we use calories throughout the day, grazing throughout seems to make more sense.

There's something so liberating about boycotting meal making. You can still cook the items used in meals, but freeze and store them so you can graze on them without feeling you must prepare carrots, potatoes, bread, meat.... and sit down to eat a huge bellyful. 

If you think about it, ancient man and feral man were used to digging up roots, picking berries, hoping to catch some meat for a meal. They grazed on what was around when they could, always on the run.

My personal advice: Losing weight should be free. You don't need to hire people to teach you, make your meals or force you to a gym. Upping your house and yard work, parking far away from the store to have to walk - simple ways you add the usual movements and work of prior man who was not lacking in muscle and metabolism.

And, consider the concept of throwing away the clock and the meal constructs for fueling your body. That old food pyramid of childhood - throw that away too. The government has lots of reasons for keeping you rushing in at meal time and eating preferred crops and ranching products. They didn't have a vested interest in you so much as an economy.

Really listen to the patterns of hunger and appease it without over-stuffing it. The clock says noon and you aren't ready for a meal? Listen to your body! 

Conversely, don't skip eating when your body is hungry. We all know what that does!