Written by Emma Freeman
There are so many old adages around food:
- An apple a day keeps the doctor away
- Eat three square meals a day
- Finish your plate
- No carbs after 4pm
- Eat Breakfast Like a King, Lunch Like a Prince, and Dinner Like a Pauper
With so many conflicting ideas, it’s hard to get your head around what to eat, when, and how much! We get it, it’s confusing, but it doesn’t have to be.
With our crazy busy Western lifestyles, the biggest detriment to our diets is the fact that we’ve lost our ability to eat intuitively. We skip breakfast to make it to work on time, grab a coffee to get you through that mid-morning slump (guilty), get something quick and convenient to down for lunch in between projects and meetings, and reach for something delicious when 2:30-itis hits. Maybe a second or third coffee (just me? Okay cool). By the time it gets to dinner, we’ve spent all our energy on the various demands each day has placed on us, and quite often a home-cooked nutritious dinner is not the highest priority. Wind down with a glass of wine, rinse, and repeat.
So, what’s the answer to all this doom and gloom? Preparation! In order to eat intuitively, that is, listen to your body’s hunger cues and respond appropriately, we need to be prepared in advance. That way, we can better deal with what the day throws at us, and be adequately fueled to meet those demands. The tricky part – there’s no one size fits all, no magic bullet. It’s a skill that must be learned, and a practice to be developed.
For the most part, we know which foods are ideal to eat more of, and conversely, we also know which foods are probably not the best to eat a lot of. The first real question to ask yourself then, is ‘when am I typically hungry’? We like to shift the focus from “good” and “bad”, and encourage our clients to listen to their bodies. The next question is then, ‘how can I prepare in advance for when hunger strikes’? Starving as you wake up? Perhaps you need some more fuel at dinner time to tide you over. If you’re not typically hungry until a few hours after waking – great news: that’s totally fine! If your schedule allows, you can break the fast later in the day. The point is that you’re practicing listening to what your body actually needs, and then acting upon those needs. Sometimes that’s the piece of cheesecake, and sometimes it’s the green smoothie. If you’ve identified that you feel better when you’ve had breakfast, make it easier for yourself by preparing something the night before.
We find that a lot of our clients feel better with breakfast, and that it sets them up with solid energy for the rest of the day. A good meal fuels the few hours after eating, and breakfast is no different! To make a meal satisfying, we like it to have a balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein, but typical quick breakfasts tend to be carb heavy. While carbohydrates are definitely a great source of fuel (and necessary for brain function!), adding protein and fat rich sources keep you going and give you extra necessary nutrients. As you’re preparing your next lot of breakfasts, see if you can sneak in some of these fat or protein rich breaky foods: egs, Greek yoghurt, flaxseed, chia seeds, almonds, avocado, or a good quality protein powder. Looking for more breakfast ideas?
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