Oops, apologies for the blog hiatus! I’ve been focusing on finding a new place to live… ugh. After two weeks of dropping in on random strangers to encroach upon their personal space, check out their homes and sit through awkward interviews where I’m interrogated about my levels of cleanliness and bathroom habits (note to self, not the time to educate about bowel cleansing, lesson learned), I think I may have found a place! It’s not set in stone as of yet, but it’s a lovely little terrace just by this park:
Anyhoo, that’s my life at the moment, onto the fun stuff…
Since I was talking about the benefits of beginning your day with fresh vegetable juice in my last post, I thought I’d expand a little more on the topic of breakfast, or specifically, lack-thereof. Now, I know that general consensus is that breakfast is the most important meal of the day (and in a way this is true!), but breakfast should in no way be the heaviest meal of the day. Eating light to heavy is a concept that most people are not familiar with, yet actually fits quite easily into most people’s day-to-day routines and is satisfyingly achievable in practice.
Most dieticians will claim that eating a hearty breakfast is the best way to set up vibrant energy for the day and fend off against food cravings later on. However, when you look at how the body functions, in terms of both energy and cravings, there is a better alternative to ‘breaking your fast’ with a heavy meal.
So, before you flick away thinking I’ve gone completely mental, here are some very good scientific reasons behind why eating lightly at breakfast and saving your heaviest meal for the end of the day is an excellent idea:
Firstly, it allows you more energy for the waking hours of the day.
As explained here, the process of digestion (while of course necessary!) actually costs the body a fair amount of energy. Is it any wonder we find ourselves yawning and in need of a nap after a heavy meal? I’ve heard this referred to as the ‘carb-coma’ before, but it actually applies to meals comprised of any heavier foods to some extent. The digestion of foods such as grains and animal products saps the body of energy that could better be used in the daylight hours for living, breathing, concentrating, renewing, rebuilding and detoxifying!
While you’re giving your body a bit of a break from heavy digestion, you could be taking in foods that are very easily assimilated such as raw fruits and vegetables (particularly in their juice form), which also happen to be the foods that have the highest vibration energy. Hence, plenty of energy for the daylight hours! (See my post here for more info on vibration energy of foods).
Secondly, it extends the natural nightly ‘fasting’ period, giving the body a chance to detox at a deeper level each day.
”The body’s ability to flush trapped fluid and toxins and metabolize stored fat peaks between 6am and noon.” ~ Stanford University School of Medicine
When you wake-up, your body is already in an intense detox mode, clearing itself of endotoxins and digestive waste from the past evening meal. During the morning hours, when digestion is fully completed (while you are on an empty stomach), a primal survival mechanism, known as fight or flight reaction to stress, is triggered, maximizing your body’s capacity to generate energy, be alert, resist fatigue and resist stress.” ~ Ori Hofmekler, author of The Warrior Diet (article here)
“In the morning when the body’s cycles are focused on eliminating what the rest from a night’s sleep was able to process, breakfast is just too much food and too much density. When the body is asleep and resting from digestion it can do the work of processing new matter and awakening old matter for release, making some real headway on self-cleaning. That is why first thing in the morning people are at their stinkiest – their breath is bad, their tongues are coated, there’s sleep in the eyes, and often odour on the body. This is the result of nature self-cleaning the moment there’s a break from consuming food. This break from eating is essential. It allows the body to eliminate throughout the morning. The moment food enters the system, elimination grinds to halt again because the stomach needs precious energy there to process the new matter.
The best scenario is to optimize the time between dinner and lunch the next day for maximum elimination effect.” ~ Natalia Rose, Detox For Women
Don’t fret, no need to starve! The one thing that you can enjoy during the morning without stimulating digestion is good old freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juices (the emphasis being on predominantly vegetable-based juices, only because fruits tend to be too cleansing in most people’s systems – great article here). Generally, it’s a good idea to strain your juices and remove any pulp to make sure that they won’t require any digestive energy whatsoever; although I can’t honestly say I practice that rule as much as I should!
Smoothies and other ‘predigested’ (blended) foods are also a good option, however unlike juice, they do still require digestion, which immediately halts the detoxification process initiated by the nightly ‘fast’.
As a general rule, it’s ideal to progress throughout the day from the lightest foods during the morning (juices, followed by blended fruit and veg-based foods such as smoothies, then whole fruits), to raw salads at lunch and during the afternoon (avocados are great to round these out, as they are still very easy for the body to break down), to cooked protein or starches (note: keep it properly combined for quickest digestion time) with salad and cooked veggies at the end of the day. This might mean a green vegetable juice in the morning (note, it’s best to wait until your body calls for nourishment before eating), maybe a smoothie or fruits later on, a big avocado salad at lunch with lots of raw veggies (maybe some cooked vegetables if you feel like you need more), perhaps some more vegetables in the afternoon, and then a well-combined dinner meal of salad and cooked fish, or a cooked grain dish in the evening (a high-quality dessert to follow such as dark chocolate or decadent avocado pudding is of course always a good idea in my books!).
I don’t know about most people, but this way of eating actually suits me pretty well. I find it comparatively easy to eat lightly during the day, and indulge a little more in the evening with some heavier foods. And, just to be clear, when I say ‘light’, I don’t mean light in the sense of the dreaded *c* word (that would be calories people, I’m not trying to be rude!). Trust me, I get in plenty of those during the day. I mean ‘light’ in the sense that I try to eat foods that are light on the digestive system during the daylight hours. Of course, it’s always best to eat try and eat easy-to-digest meals all the time, but even a well-combined dinner of cooked starches and vegetables, or cooked animal protein and vegetables (following a big raw salad!) that is relatively easy for us to digest will require more energy for our bodies to break it down than say, an avocado salad. Also, if you are going to mis-combine a meal, it’s best to do so at dinner so that you don’t sap your energy during the day and so that you give your body enough time to fully digest before putting anything more in at the next meal.
In regards to cravings, I personally find that when I make the effort to get in a nice big vegetable juice in the morning, and a salad for lunch, my body is so satiated by the abundance of vitamins and minerals found in all the greens and other veggies that I’m actually less inclined to reach for the chocolate cake later on (that is not to say that I don’t always avoid that trap, such are the pitfalls of working at a food mag!).
Actually, to take it one step further, I’m a firm believer in the fact that if you’re feeding your body nutrient-dense whole foods on a regular basis, your body actually doesn’t desire or need* the amount of food that we are accustomed to eating on the standard modern diet (ie three meals a day plus snacks).
I mean, is it any real coincidence that the widespread introduction of readily available processed, pre-packaged foods arrived around the same time as our appetites seemed to mysteriously increase compared to those of our forebears? Processed breads, stock-standard breakfast cereals, mock meats and devitalized diary products have a very limited ability (if any) to satisfy the body’s demand for proper nutrition, therefore the body remains lacking in and ‘hungry’ for these nutrients and calls out for more food. Add to that the fact that these products contain substances that are highly addictive and it’s easy to see why the processed food movement can be named as a huge driving force behind the obesity epidemic that Westernized populations face today.
*Note, I honestly have found that my body physically desires less and I rarely feel ‘hungry’ for excess food when I’m eating well on a diet rich in whole plant foods…. however I’m afraid my mind is yet to make this connection!
Oh dear, once again a ‘quick post’ has turned into an essay length article that kinda wound up off-topic and I’ve ended up still sitting at work at 8.30 at night facing a 90 minute commute home in the dark. Oops. I’ll try to save some blog material for another day!