Food habits

Some people have a standard time of food, no. of meals to have and what to eat. Others eat on the go, unplanned, depending on the time available and around their schedule, but still with a look at the clock. But as I understand, there are very few who eat on need basis. Here when I say need basis, its based on two factors: hunger and bodily needs. Being trained of eating at specific times due to bringing up or work schedules or circumstantial, we can hardly think on our need of food intake.

I switched to the first factor of need some 5-6 years back or maybe more, some time when I hit my spiritual depths. With that, I used to eat when hungry and skip when not. So that meant no particular timing during waking hours, but my body made a timing on its own. My body found its own slot to express hunger not the way I was trained to eat. Breakfast was always an important meal for me. I don't remember having been any productive without a breakfast. I do know though that without a breakfast, I have not only had a bad work day, but also bad health through the day even with decent lunch fills. What I used to do though is that delay the breakfast some midway through to lunch, calling it brunch the way they all do. This helped me beat the breakfast and lunch crowd at the messy restaurants. Did I say that I hate crowds too? :) But this was a side effect. What I was doing, indeed, is feeding myself only when hungry.

I was also avoiding the dinner crowd by eating an early dinner between lunch and dinner, calling it linner like no one else I know of calls it. This helped me a lot to be on the run when needed, twist schedules of sleeping and waking around my spiritual reading. It also helped me stay active most part of the day and night, sleep less and in small sets of naps, instead of a long continuous stretch. Either way, the entire experience helped me understand how my body reacts and why it does. It led me to the 2nd factor of the need based eating, which meant eating what the body needs. I started thinking if I'm not burning much in physical activity, I need to eat less. That helped me on my sabbatical when I was hardly doing any physical or mental work. I was mostly in reading, silence or on my own, not even expending energy talking. During those times, I used to have regular breakfast and lunch but no dinner. I'd some great personalities forcing me food at dinner time and I used to politely refuse and when they didn't understand what "eating what you need" meant, I used to hurtfully refuse. It faded away in a while and I started feeling how good my sleep was. Whenever I had a dinner, I used stay awake most of the night without a wink of sleep.

The funny thing is that from that sabbatical I returned to a job that made 16-18 hrs of my workday. This meant some physical strain, but a lot of mental work. I had to switch to 4 or even 5 meals a day, all full sized. I have eaten breakfast, lunch, evening snack, dinner, and middle of the night 2nd dinner on returning home and heading for work next day. That was necessity feed and I managed to stay healthy albeit putting on some weight. I wouldn't have been able to survive the stress and deliver work without that. I also used to eat a lot during couple of treks I took. So its always good, I feel, to eat based on need than by the clock.

So I think its safe to say that my discipline, therefore, is to not have a normal discipline in food, but to switch based on circumstances. :)
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