Let's Get This Fire Started
We’ve all done it.
Ordered a salad in an effort to be healthy only to sit chomping away in front of our computer looking into the daily abyss of emails.
Perhaps we’ve gone out and vented with a colleague or two about work and crammed down the biggest plate of chicken nachos this side of the Rio Grande.
And then there is the inevitable lunch meeting. Where an assortment of sandwiches, cookies, and chips litter the conference room table as you gear up to talk strategy. You know your meeting update is due and this sandwich isn’t going down easy.
The fact is that our bodies are meant to have lunch. And I don’t mean a small lunch. I mean a big lunch. I mean the biggest meal of your day kind of lunch. Breakfast should be moderate in size, dinner should be small, and you should throw down for lunch.
We all have a digestive fire that needs tending. Every day our bodies provide the opportunity to tend to our fire in the best way possible through seasonal meals and eating at the right times of the day.
The beginning of our day (after we brush our teeth and scrape our tongue) should start with a cup of warm to hot water. Think of this as the gentle blow to the glowing ember in your belly that starts the flame. This isn’t the time to throw gas on the ember by drinking coffee on an empty stomach.
When you get hungry for breakfast, that is your cue to add some kindling. We do this by eating a moderate breakfast.
When lunchtime rolls around you should feel very hungry - that's normal. The middle of the day, when the sun is at it's highest point, also marks when our digestive fire is the strongest. Lunch for you may happen as early as 11 a.m. or as late as 1 p.m. The time that your body tells you it’s hungry is based on how early you start your day and your biology, not what time the lunch bell rings. Your fire is now ready for you to add the logs. Typically when you add logs to a growing fire you want to position them in the best way to enable the fire to grow, get warm, and stay contained. We do this by ensuring that our main meal includes all six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent and that we eat our foods in a preferred order from hardest to easiest to digest. You begin your meal with the sweet stuff that includes grains, meats, or even dessert. Move to the sour and salty tastes next. End your meal with the pungent, bitter, and astringent foods such as cooked greens. Yes, you may eat dessert first.
At dinner time our fire will be tapering down because it’s close to bedtime. Typically we eat easier to digest foods such as soups or roasted seasonal vegetables to ensure that our body doesn’t have to spend so much energy digesting so late in the evening. Instead, we want to eat light and give our body the chance it needs to shift into our nightly detox mode. Think of it as adding one last log to the fire before bed.
I have post-lunch food coma - now what?
The best thing to do after your biggest meal of the day whether you’ve eaten too much or even if it’s because those chicken nachos aren’t sitting pretty is to lie on your left side for 10 - 15 minutes. Lying on your left side helps your digestion process by aiding the acids and food in your stomach to pool towards the greater curvature of your stomach. Try it out and note if you feel more energized.
Why is it so important to eat mindfully?
When we add the logs to our fire, we add them slowly, and we do the same with eating. You eat slowly and mindfully - not while driving in the car. Take the time to taste your food and surround yourself with good company and good vibes. You want your body to focus on digesting, and you won’t allow your body to do this if you are eating while stressed. Being stressed shifts your body into fight-or-flight mode and takes the blood to your limbs and away from your digestion process. This is why I think we should all start a campaign to do away with lunch meetings.
I don’t think I ate enough for lunch because it’s three in the afternoon and I’m starving.
It takes practice eating your main meal at lunch. Some of us have portion control hardwired into our brains. However, if you feel starved in the early afternoon, you have two choices. You either snack on seasonal fruit which is easy to digest, or you could simply have dinner. If you choose to have dinner early in the afternoon, you may opt to go for slightly larger portions of the recommended soup or roasted vegetables.
There are two primary take-home messages for you in this article - eat dessert first and let’s start a campaign to do away with lunch meetings.