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healthy eating to manage stress podcast

#63 Simplifying Healthy Eating to Manage Stress

healthy eating stress management Mar 23, 2021

Simplifying when you eat is one of the easiest (and most underused) ways to manage stress.  I wanted to reboot an old episode (#22) in case you had missed it because it's so freakin important.

Basically - when you are fed consistently, you are a less stressed and nicer human being - you make better decisions, you yell at your kids less, you are more productive- all because you aren't hungry. 

My simple action step - have lunch at the same time everyday.  A large healthy satisfying lunch.  Don't skip it for a meeting or to get more done.  Book it onto your calendar.  And watch how it changes your life (and reduces your stress). 


Today we are going to get to learn about a simple way to approach eating healthy.  Usually, when you think about eating healthy it’s all about what you are eating.  Eat more kale!  Eat less ice cream!  But there are lots of other things that can be a part of how you eat healthy.  Including when you eat. 

Think of how many things in your life have been impacted by being hungry:

  • Have you ever yelled at someone you love because you were hungry?  
  • Have you ever tried to throw your computer out the window because you forgot to eat breakfast?  
  • Have you ever responded to an email in a way you wish you could take back because you skipped lunch?  
  • Have you ever eaten something unhealthy because you were staring?  Like an entire block of cheese? Or an entire box of Girl Scout Cookies?

I’ve got some ideas to help you reconsider how you approach meal timing.  And of course this episode will include action you can take today.  That’s right, you can get started changing your life right now. 

In this episode you will learn:

  1. Why eating at the same time everyday is awesome and worth your time
  2. How we do it in our house
  3. How to experiment with eating meals at the same time everyday to see if it will help you with your healthy eating 


Eating and Showing Up as My Best Self

I’m always looking for easy ways to approach my own health and wellness - and this is such a simple one.  I want to introduce you to a super simple idea that I learned from Ayurveda.  If you don’t already know, Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine that started in India.  It’s still practiced there today. Ayurveda says that ideally we eat at the same time everyday.  I know you are busy and that things are unpredictable and that life happens - but I think that this is a simple but powerful idea that might be worth considering.

I’ve talked about it before, but I’m really into this idea of showing up as the best version of myself as much as possible.  In how I work, in how I interact with others, and for myself.  And there’s so much that goes into that.  Making sure I’m fed at correct intervals is one of those things.  I was trying to think of a specific example of what this looked like for me.  I asked my partner of over 10 years for a really good one - surely after living with me for so long he had an example.  He had too many.  And now it’s all he’s talking about.  All day.  So, apparently when I’m not fed I get crappy with him and everyone (he used a different word), and then I can’t make a decision about what I want to eat.  I get frustrated and angry.  It’s really funny to hear him talk about it.   Although I probably just think it’s funny because I’ve been fed - I probably wouldn’t find it funny at all if I were hungry.  So, when I think about this I think about how much this impacts the other things that I do.  


Eating at the same time everyday

Ayurveda suggests that we eat our meals at about the same time everyday.  Here’s why I think it’s a valuable idea.

  1. When my body knows that it’s going to get food at a certain time, it’s less angry when I’m not giving it food.  My body knows it can rely on me.
  2. It makes it easier to plan because I know what time I’m eating.  I can plan meetings and schedule clients around having a set time to eat.  
  3. It makes me less likely to snack.  I know when my next meal is coming and so when my body starts getting hungry, it usually means it’s getting closer to meal time. It can also mean I didn’t satisfy it at the previous meal.  
  4. I make healthier choices because I’m not starving.  When I forget to eat lunch I do really stupid things because I’m starving and looking for something fast and easy.  Like eating an entire bag of potato chips.  Or an entire pizza.  
  5. When I’m starving because I forgot or postponed eating to get work done I don’t make the best decisions (because I’m hungry).  My brain doesn’t want to focus as much (because I’m hungry).
  6. My emotions and thoughts are more stable when I eat at set times.  Hunger is a powerful force - it can make us angry, frustrated, and negative in our thoughts.  
  7. My energy is more even.  I don’t get that mid-afternoon lull because my body has a reliable energy source and I fed it well at noon.


What time do we eat?

In this house we follow an Ayurvedic lifestyle.  Here’s how we schedule our eating.

  • If we are hungry for it, we eat breakfast at 7am.  
  • We ALWAYS eat lunch around noon. There are some serious hangry (hungry + angry) consequences if we don’t.  I’m so hard-core that in my calendar, 11:30-1pm is always blocked off for cooking, eating, and then taking some time to digest my meal and refocus.  I almost never schedule anything during that time.
  • We eat dinner around 6 or 6:30pm.  I know! Super early for many people.  But I want my body to be fasting all night, until I wake up and “break” the fast with breakfast. 
  • Oh, and we don’t eat snacks!  I want my body to learn to consume what I gave it at meals, not to rely on snacks.  It took a looooong time to go snack-free (and sometimes we fall off the wagon), but it’s totally worth it.  

Action steps:

Pick a meal - breakfast, lunch, or dinner -for the week and try to eat it at the same time everyday.  Here are some tips to help you be successful:

  1. What meal would support you the most?  There’s usually a meal that will help you show up as the best version of yourself.  If you eat breakfast everyday this week at the same time, would that set you up for success all day?  Choose what’s right for you.
  2. Just pick one meal to try - breakfast, lunch OR dinner.  Small steps usually lead to greater success.
  3. Plan.  Block off time for both cooking/getting AND eating. Put it in your calendar just like you would a client or a meeting.  Make sure you have something to eat (or have planned the time to get it or cook it).  
  4. Try to eat it at the same time everyday.  How does it feel? What do you notice? How could you modify this concept to work for you better? 

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