Why when you eat matters

It’s a tall order to ask your body to make everything happen at once. Like trying to digest food and have a good sleep at the same time. Or trying to repair itself but having to deal with metabolising the alcohol you just drank in the evening.

There’s a time for everything

For our organs and other body bits and pieces to function well, they need time to rest and repair, and that’s why the body allocates certain preferred times to things. So when you wake up the body isn’t immediately primed to eat, yet what do a lot of people do? Head to the kitchen, often in the rush of the morning routine getting yourself ready for work and the kinds for school, and throw a big load of food down. It’s the equivalent of throwing a shedload of coal on a low burning fire. It takes an hour or so once you’re out of bed to get the body running efficiently and therefore ready to digest food.

Every hormone, every body chemical, every digestive enzyme (and even saliva production) is pre-programmed to peak at certain times of the day and diminish at other times. We have an inbuilt clock that tells our brain when to sleep, our gut when to best digest food, our heart to pump more blood.

These timings form the circadian rhythm.

But we think we know better

The trouble is we try to override our clocks and confuse them by living under artificial light when it’s meant to be dark and we’re meant to be slowing down and sleeping. I’m sure most of us have taken our phones or tablets to bed and surfed away for an hour or two before going to sleep. That blue light from screens is very disturbing to the body clock, confusing it and making it difficult to sleep.

Or we stay up late and eat snacks, drink caffeine and alcohol at a time when the body isn’t primed to digest and metabolise efficiently, therefore more of that stuff is stored as fat and poor old insulin doesn’t know if it’s coming or going, it needs a break. Saliva reduces at night or we’d dribble ourselves to an early death during the night! Our insides need a break. Our gut needs time off from food to clean itself up and repair itself. Constantly putting food through it can damage it and it gets burn out.

And we’re like vampires!

Added to that people are shy of daylight and often don’t get much of it in their eyes; spending all day in an office away from windows then all night indoors in front of blue light. Natural light signals to your brain that it’s waking time, and as darkness falls it signals rest and that sleep is the requirement, I only have to watch my chickens to see this. They wake up with the daylight and as soon as dusk falls they take themselves to bed and no amount of persuasion will get them to eat after dark! In the winter they go to bed at 4pm.

What effect does all this overriding have?

It makes us tired’er and fatter and more stressed and hungrier and headache’ier and tetchier. It can even make us diabetic or give us auto-immune disorders, and maybe worse.

So what can you do about this?

Two very simple things:

1. Listen to this podcast by Dr Chatterjee in conversation with Professor Satchin Panda – Part 1, Part 2. Try and do as he says, most of the time. Things like:

  • eat within an 8–12 hour time window
  • go to bed earlier with the sole purpose of sleeping (no phones or reading)
  • spend time outdoors in daylight
  • if your phone has a ‘night time’ option that adds more orange light to your screen turn it on, and don’t use it in bed

2. Join the eatnaturally plan. You’ll get a perfectly balanced weekly meal plan with huge variety and lots of tips and advice about living a healthier life. Our main focus is on getting and staying healthy without resorting to unsustainable diets. Learn to enjoy the heck out of the right amount of gorgeous food and be more active outdoors. Weight loss is the side effect of eating better and being more active until you reach your own healthy sweet spot. And you’ll also get access to our private Facebook support group where you can connect with like-minded people in a safe and non-judgmental way.

Eat better and be active every day with an eatnaturally plan.

We use cookies to help us learn how visitors use our site. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you accept our use of cookies. Read our Cookie Policy.