Eating is one of the most feel-good activities you can engage in. After all, at its root, eating fulfills one of our most important basic needs. I love eating, and you probably do too!
Unfortunately, your digestive system isn’t designed to digest 24/7. I mean, your body will make it work if you constantly graze throughout the day and night, but it’s not going to do it well. And there will be consequences.
The consequences include poor sleep, digestive distress like IBS, brain fog that inhibits performance, and low energy that keeps life feeling dull and exhausting.
Your digestive tract needs a break
Your digestive tract needs a break. In fact, according to the science of chronobiology, your digestive tract needs 3-4 hours of rest between meals, and at least 12 – 14 hours of rest between dinner and breakfast. Some folks call this intermittent fasting. Ayurveda, the sister-science to yoga, and the system that I’m trained and certified in as a coach, has simply called it a healthy daily schedule for thousands of years.
Unfortunately, our culture is way into snacking. And the snack industry rakes in $500billion/year. It’s easy to market a habit that makes us feel good in the moment. If you feel sad, eating will bring you some momentary joy. Angry at your friend or co-worker, reach for a snack to feel better. Stoked that you accomplished something big? Eat your favorite snack to keep the high alive. Stressed about work, eating a sweet treat makes it all better for a few moments.
Instead of snacking, what if you went for a walk, felt sun on your skin, talked with a trusted friend, took a deep breath or wrote in your journal? You would probably discover that your body doesn’t need or want food in that moment. It’s your mind reaching for something to make you feel better.
In Ayurveda school, my teacher asked that anytime we felt the urge to reach for a snack between meals, that we would either go for a short walk, or do relaxation pose for 10 minutes. If at the end of either of those activities we actually felt hungry, then he told us to eat. If the craving was gone that revealed that the craving was more about emotion than actual hunger. It made it really easy to skip the snack.
Get comfy with discomfort
In Ayurveda and yoga, feeling hungry is a good thing. The belief is that you perform at your best when you’re a little hungry. I’m sure you’ve experienced this. The last time you were kayaking or SUPing, did you want to eat something every 5 minutes during your epic day so you always felt full? Probably not. Eating too much and not digesting on the river feels terrible, and leads to poor paddling performance. Well, the same is true off the water.
Instead of being scared of feeling a little hungry, learn to appreciate that the feeling of hunger means that your digestive tract is healthy and working. Your body has properly digested your previous meal and is getting the nutrients it needs. According to Ayurveda, a well functioning digestive system IS the foundation for optimal health.
When you eat enough, and eat well at each meal time – including a big lunch – your body has plenty of energy and nutrients to last 3-4 hours before eating again. Not eating enough for lunch can be a big factor that leads to over-snacking. When you make lunch your biggest meal of the day, your body and mind are nourished and you’re less likely to reach for a snack.
How to reset your digestion
If you love to snack then it’s really important for you to reset your digestion. Participating in an Ayurvedic cleanse is one of the best ways to strengthen your digestive fire and train yourself to stop snacking.
An Ayurvedic cleanse is very structured: Wake early, morning routine, small breakfast, no snacking, big lunch, no snacking, gentle movement, fruit snack, small dinner, to bed early. The meal you eat during an Ayurvedic cleanse is called Kitchari, and it is delicious and nourishing. It consists of yellow mung beans or red lentils, basmati rice, spices (cumin, black mustard seed, ginger, turmeric), veggies, cilantro and lime.
When you commit to a the cleanse structure, your commitment keeps you on track. Participating in a group cleanse is beneficial because members of the group keep each other accountable and makes it fun.
Folks who have participated in my guided group cleanse have reported that it’s a revelation that they don’t need to snack. They feel transformed with more energy, greater mental clarity and start to experience life as vibrant again.
If you’re ready to experience the benefits of giving your digestive system the break it needs, click here to register for my guided fall cleanse. Don’t miss this opportunity to train yourself to stop snacking, and experience life and food as awesome again!