4 Things You Need To Know About Meal Timing

A recent research paper [1] reminded me of the importance of eating at the right time in the day. It turns out that research is showing that individuals who are eating most their calorie intake later on in the day are more likely to be more overweight than someone who eats more at the start of the day.

Often, I see at the clinic people who skip breakfast, have a quick lunch at their desk and only have a ‘proper meal’ in the evening when they are back at home. It seems to be a quite common pattern for a lot of people. But Chinese Medicine reminds us of the importance of the timing of our meal on our overall health.

 

Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper

 

Interestingly we find that old saying in many countries, from the UK to China in one form or another. It emphasises the fact that our bodies function in a cycle and that respecting these patterns helps the body run more efficiently. So here are a few tips to make the most of this rhythm.

 

1-      Have a nutritious breakfast.

In Chinese Medicine, the digestive system is the strongest between 7.00 am and 9.00 am. This makes it the ideal time to have a nutritious meal and set you up for the whole day. A 2004 study [2] showed that food eaten in the morning is also more satisfying so even more reasons to experiment around what to eat for breakfast.

 

2-      Plan to have a nice lunch

Even when you are at work. If you want to avoid the ‘I’ll just grab a sandwich at the work canteen’ syndrome, this is probably will need the most preparation beforehand. I find that having some frozen left over, in single portions, great for that. Otherwise, planning ahead what you will have for lunch allows you to have what you need in the house and maybe do a bit of preparation the night before.

 

3-      Your evening meal should be the lightest of the day.

To be fair, that’s not what we normally do in the UK. But as the body gets ready for a good night sleep, it’s also the time when our digestion slows down (It’s the Yin, calming and restful time of the day). The food ends up being poorly digested leading to all sort of issues, including the weight gain mentioned in the research articles but also issues with bad sleep and feeling full in the morning (That’s probably why so many of us aren’t feeling hungry in the morning to)

 

4-      Leave at least 3 hours between your last meal and going to bed.

For the same reasons mentioned above, this will leave enough time for the body to really start digesting your last meal, reducing all the negative effects of eating too much too late.

 

Over to you

What are your thoughts on meal timing and how would you feel about trying some of these tips?

 

We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you on your journey to a health . Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.

[1] J. B. Wang et Al (2017)  'Timing of energy intake during the day is associated with the risk of obesity in adults' Am Journal of Clinical Nutrition
[2] de Castro JM (2004) 'The time of the day of food intake influences overall intake in humans' Journal of Nutrition vol 134(1)

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How Can You Stay Warm & Healthy This Winter?

The latest bout of snow has reminded me that we are fully into the seasonal phase that the Chinese call the Major Cold. Its name comes from the fact that this last part of the year, just before the Chinese New Year, is often the coldest part of the year. Consequently, many people are arriving at the clinic suffering from coughs and colds to sinus infections. So what can we do the look after ourselves during that time of the year?

 

1-      Looking after our digestive system.

This is essentially about eating easily digested foods so we can build up our energy and be ready for the Spring.

Easily digested foods are nice warm, cooked foods such as soups or stews.  Rice, soups such as chicken soup, cooked vegetables are all beneficial, especially when they are teamed with warning spices such as fresh ginger or nutmeg.

In addition, you might want to avoid cold and raw food as well as foods that are overly sweet or greasy (eg greasy meats or sweet deserts/cakes).

Adequate hydration is also important so sipping a nice, warm herbal tea throughout the day will also be beneficial. Ginger tea is a good choice to stimulate digestion.

 

2-      Bone broth

Bone broth has been used in Europe and in China for generations to keep people healthy. I am always trying to make a big pot of bone broth in the week, drinking a cup in the morning with my breakfast.

Here is how to make your own bone broth

 

3-      Soaking your feet

Soaking your feet in warm water was once a daily habit for many people in China and as a TCM practitioner, this is something I would also recommend as it is surprisingly effective. One recipe for a foot soak, especially good for those of us who tend to have cold extremities in winter, is:

About 50g of ginger, sliced

Half a cup of Epson Salt

Boil the ginger in water for a few minutes.

Take a basin big enough to put both feet in and high enough that you can cover your feet with water, up to your ankles.

Put the boiled water in the basin and add enough water so your feet will be covered. The water should be around 40oC (Please check the temperature before putting your feet in. You don’t want to burn yourself but nor do you want the water to be too cold). Add the Epson Salt.

Soak your feet for about 20mins, adding some boiled water if the water in the basin gets too cold.

It is best to do the soak just before going to bed as it will help you stay warm and get a good night rest.

 

4-     Socks and scarves

It sounds quite obvious but protecting yourself with warm clothes when you go out, including covering your neck (with a scarf for example) is essential. This is also about keeping yourself warm at home by wearing slippers in the house (so your feet don’t get cold) or using bed socks in bed if you tend to be easily cold or have cold feet.

This will help you protect yourself from the cold around you as well as from all these colds and coughs.

It is worth noting that science has found a possible explanation as to why getting cold could lead to getting a cold. It’s all down to the fact that our immune system isn’t as strong when we are cold!

 

Over to you

What are you doing to keep you warm and healthy during the winter? Do you tend to get ill or tired quite easily or do you waltz through it all?

 

Sometimes, self-care isn’t enough and you might find that you need a bit more support. If you find that during the winter you don’t seem to shake those coughs and colds or you are getting particularly tired, come and see us. Simply give us a call on 01642794063 and we will help you put those under control.

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