Did you ever stop to think about your typical eating pattern? When it comes to food, we all have our likes and dislikes. But for many of us, meal timing and eating patterns are routine. We eat breakfast before starting our workday, grab a sandwich for lunch at noon, have dessert after dinner, and sprinkle in a few snacks and drinks throughout the day to pass the time and stave off hunger.
Routines are comfortable and easy but are the ones you’ve established working for you? If you’ve been trying to lose weight without success, it might be time to reimagine your meals and meal timing. I’ll discuss how to do that in this post.
Lose Weight – Action Steps Summary
- Action Step #1: Swap your typical refined carb breakfast foods for foods that contain protein and healthy fats.
- Action Step #2: Skip breakfast and make lunch your first meal of the day.
- Action Step #3: Eat two meals rather than three.
- Action Step #4: Listen to your body and have lunch when it feels right, whether that is 10 am or 2 pm.
- Action Step #5: Have a meal-size salad for lunch or dinner.
- Action Step #6: Fill up at dinner time and skip dessert with the help of a “Stopper.”
To Lose Weight…Reimagine Your Meals [Video]
In this video, you’ll learn…
- The reason why we gravitate towards habitual eating patterns.
- Six ways to help you rethink your daily eating patterns.
- Additional resources to help you on your path to health and weight loss!
How We Eat
Why do we have cereal for breakfast, eat lunch at noon, and have dessert after dinner? While many things factor into our behaviors, the main drivers are habits and social norms. There is nothing wrong with having individual or shared habits. In fact, they help us.
When we have patterns to our day, it reduces the amount of conscious thinking our brains have to dedicate to basic survival so that we can work on bigger and better things.
However, if you’ve found weight loss to be elusive, it could be that your established eating patterns are working against your goal.
Here are six pattern disruptors, or action steps, to take over the next couple of days that will shake up your daily routine and lead to a new result.
Reimagine Breakfast Foods
When it comes to breakfast, we’ve been taught to think of it as an important meal that stimulates your metabolism. There is some truth to this statement. Whenever we eat, the process of digestion takes energy and creates heat. This is known as the thermic effect of food, and it does add a bit of a charge to your metabolism.
However, the true metabolic boost that wakes us up and gets us going is caused by a complex interaction between your nervous system and hormones, and that will occur every morning, regardless of what you eat, even if you eat nothing.
With this understanding, you can reimagine breakfast in two ways. The first way is to continue eating breakfast, but cut the carbs and think protein and healthy fats. Typical breakfast foods include toast, cereal, pancakes or waffles, and a big glass of orange juice. These foods are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
When you have them first thing in the morning, they cause a spike in your blood sugar. Sugar is quick energy, so you feel an energy boost. However, your body senses danger when blood sugar rises too high, so it works fast to bring the level back down to a safe range.
The result is a blood sugar roller coaster that takes away your energy and leaves you feeling out-of-control of your hunger for the rest of the morning.
ACTION STEP #1:
To program your body to lose weight, swap your typical refined carb breakfast foods for foods that contain protein and healthy fats. These nutrients digest slowly, causing a slow and steady blood sugar increase that keeps you feeling good all morning long.
Tomorrow morning, start your day with eggs and bacon or full-fat yogurt with berries, and pay attention to how you feel throughout the morning.
The second way to reimagine breakfast is to skip it and practice intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is not so much a diet as it is a timing strategy. In its most basic form, it requires you to do nothing more than split your day between a period of eating and not eating (fasting).
Fasting is a practice that has been utilized for thousands of years for health and spiritual reasons. However, in recent years, it has gained popularity as a weight-loss accelerator. I wrote a book on intermittent fasting that you can get through Amazon or any major book retailer.
ACTION STEP #2:
Stop eating after dinner tonight and then push breakfast back until at least 12 hours have passed, or skip it altogether and make lunch your first meal of the day.
Breaking the 3-Meals-A-Day Culture
One of the most ingrained social norms that we have is the three-meal-a-day culture, meaning breakfast in the morning, lunch at noon, and our biggest meal, dinner in the evening.
However, if you are eating in a way that keeps your blood sugar steady and you practice intermittent fasting, you may find that you feel comfortable with two meals a day or even one meal a day.
ACTION STEP #3:
Tomorrow, eat a hearty lunch and dinner and notice how you feel. You may find that you need a small snack at some point in the day, but you may also be surprised at how good you feel when your body is not using up your energy to digest food.
Another hardwired habit that many of us share is noon equals lunchtime. The reality is that lunch is still lunch whether it happens at 10 am or 2 pm. However, because we’ve been conditioned to eat by the clock, we become like Pavlov’s dogs that would salivate when they heard the dinner bell ring.
ACTION STEP #4:
Listen to your body and have lunch when it feels right. If you had been fasting since dinner last night, there is no problem having lunch at 10 am. If you are having a productive morning, stay in the flow and push lunch back to 2 in the afternoon. You’ll discover that your body is just fine either way.
Salad as a Meal
Another way to shake things up and get weight loss happening for you is to think of salad as a meal, not a side dish. Those of you who are familiar with my 0 1 2 3 strategy know that it consists of four daily habits that, I like to say, give your body no choice but to lose weight.
One of those habits is eating a salad as one of your meals. If you had trouble losing weight, you’ll find that this one change can make a significant difference for you. Because the salad is high in volume and fiber, it digests slowly, helping to stabilize your blood sugar.
By adding salad toppers like healthy fats, like raw nuts and seeds, slices of avocado, cheese, and salmon, you enhance the salad’s flavor and add even more slow-digesting nutrients that provide hours of energy and hunger satisfaction.
ACTION STEP #5:
Today, have a meal-size salad for lunch or dinner.
Ditch the Dessert
Another common pattern that we’ve adopted as a society is that dinner is followed by dessert. There’s no doubt that eating is an enjoyable activity. We often don’t want that enjoyment to end, so even if we are feeling full, we look for a sweet treat for dessert.
Most desserts like the three C’s: Cookies, Cakes, and Candies are calorie-dense and nutrient-poor. Even if the dessert is packaged in a 100-calorie pack or has buzzwords on the label like “all-natural” or “reduced-calorie” or “keto-friendly,” the sweetness and empty calories can be enough to stall weight loss.
The reality is that you can easily give up dessert if you give your body and brain time to separate from the act of eating. We all have a primal desire to keep eating that developed back when food was hard to come by. Today, food is readily available, making it necessary to actively declare an end to our eating day.
ACTION STEP #6:
Tonight, fill up at dinner time and skip dessert. If you have trouble doing so, use a “stopper,” which is an item, drink, or activity that allows you to separate from eating.
A few things that work include popping a piece of sugar-free gum in your mouth or brushing your teeth after a meal. The stopper will change the taste in your mouth, making it unappealing to keep eating.
The takeaway is this. If you’ve found it hard to lose weight, the solution can be as simple as reimagining your meals and meal timing. The six action steps I shared will require you to change up your routine, but the rewards will be worth the effort.
If you would like more help in changing your habits, I encourage you to download my free 0,1,2,3 strategy. It comes with a free video series that is not available on YouTube to help you get the most out of the strategy. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!
About the Author
Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.