My Paleo journey has forced to me confront a lot of things about myself. Things that I think a lot of us in Western society take for granted or simply accept as part of life. I was thinking this morning about how I’ve been dealing with my compulsion to eat versus my need to eat.
It’s an interesting quirk of Western society, and most of the so-called Developed World, that we eat on a schedule. Breakfast around 7AM, Lunch at Noon, Supper around 6PM. Give or take an hour and I have described the eating habits of most people who have running water, inside bathrooms, electricity, and reliable Internet access. Most of us plan our day around eating at these times because we have been conditioned by the demands of an industrial society to do so. We don’t question it. It was the way we were raised and the way we’ve raised our children. The regularity and scheduling of it is almost comforting. It doesn’t matter if we’re actually hungry at those times of the day, we make our meals and pull up to the table any way.
The experimentally minded out there should try something interesting. Eat when you’re hungry. After a few days of sitting down at the table you may find your eating times drift out to better suit the needs of your body. If you were to honestly stick with it, you might find that where you end up is radically different then where you started from. We’re campers in the Summer. Without the benefits of clocks or TV, or scheduling to tell us what time it is, we often find ourselves eating a late breakfast, mid-afternoon lunch, and late meal. It’s true that sometimes we take cues from the campers around us but it’s been my general observation that their habits drift as well. When that compulsion, that drive, to eat at certain times is removed we find ourselves working into a more natural eating state.
The mere fact that only eating when we’re hungry is such an alien concept should point to the forced nature of Western ideals. I don’t know about you but if I don’t eat breakfast or lunch because I’m just not hungry, I’ll sometimes get a concerned “Are you starving yourself to lose weight?” from someone who knows I’ve gone Paleo. Quaint Flintstone-esque notions aside, our ancestors ate when they were hungry, not when the sundial told them it was time. It shouldn’t seem so unusual when our own bodies don’t align with the clock on our wall.
So what I’m I getting at here? Just this. I think that freeing ourselves to only eat when we need to would go along way in alleviating the compulsions and habits we’ve built up around eating. It may seem odd, or make you seem odd to others, but going Paleo has probably already accomplished that. Going Paleo has already started to teach us to listen to our bodies and use it as a signpost for what we eat, when we exercise, when we work, and when we rest. Adopting more natural eating habits is just another part of the journey. If we’re willing to run in our bare feet, we shouldn’t feel like we have to eat lunch at Noon. That makes sense right?
Have you tried to change your eating habits? Do you only eat when you’re hungry? Has it been an active experiment or just something that sort of happened when you started to eat better? We’d all be interested in reading your comments. Please share them around the campfire.