Read time: 2 minutes
Are you busy at work, running errands, taking care of the kids?
What if — by some miracle — you have some downtime today? What would you do? Read the papers, watch some television, or catch up on your favorite blogs?
When you have downtime, do you do what most people do and eat mindlessly? It’s common.
What I’ve found effective for breaking the habit of mindless eating is a conscious decision to not eat until after a certain time. It’s that simple — it’s like fetching my mail, letting out the cat, or turning on the porch light. It makes no sense to do these things before their time.
In my case, I typically just don’t eat until around 5PM. This has removed any ambiguity about eating, and the result is that I can sit through any downtime without falling victim to mindless eating.
Most people would think that not eating until 5PM is insane, unhealthy. This is because our culture is conditioned to believe that regular feeding and constantly digesting (3 – 4 hours per meal) is normal, that as long as we’re awake our digestive system should never rest.
But research shows that this constant feeding induces excessive postprandial oxidative stress, which can increase inflammation. Constant feeding also increases the likelihood of calorie creeping, and ultimately overweight.
Studies show intermittent fasting of 24 hours and up to 72 hours improves health factors, and it promotes hormones that help regulate energy as well as mobilize stored fat for burning.
For these reasons I’m excited that I don’t have to continuously feed but also I get to enjoy less body fat as a result. And I’m grateful for the health benefits promoted by regular breaks from eating (decreased oxidative stress, improved insulin sensitivity, better blood pressure, decreased brain aging, etc.).
I won’t tell you that I don’t experience occasional hunger, because I do. It usually appears around 11AM, and then again around 3PM (although it’s probably different for various people). But this hunger always diminishes completely within minutes. The result is mental sharpness and enhanced energy for work, for writing, or for anything I need to do — perhaps a result of released catecholamines, and the steady availability of energy from fat burning.
This feeding schedule works well into my life, and I imagine it would work well for almost anyone. (It’s probably not for everyone, like growing children, pregnant women, elite athletes under a heavy training schedule, etc.)
You don’t have to follow a 5PM feeding schedule like I do, but the concept is this: there’s generally no physiological reason that you must eat all day long. So use a schedule that works for you — it could be 3PM, 4PM, or even as late as 7PM — whatever works. You don’t have to do this everyday, but you can… and many cultures and tribes do.
The best part? Once you’re used to it (and people do eventually accommodate to different feeding schedules), it’s ridiculously easy. The benefits are also visibly amazing.
So, what are you doing today?