Meal Schedule

When making changes to diet and lifestyle, people always want to know how to make the most difference with the least amount of effort. It’s human nature. We want to optimize our time. On the Always Hungry program, we are asking people to get back in their kitchen and prepare meals from scratch. This can be daunting. With a few simple tips though, you’ll learn that it’s not such a drastic change after all.

Over the years, I’ve noticed there’s one thing that makes the biggest difference in my dietary habits, regardless of the food choices I have available in my kitchen. That is, getting my body on a regular schedule. Of course, you should strive to make the best food choices you can, but even before that, your body will respond positively to a regular food schedule.

Meal Schedule – And what if mine is not typical?

Ideally, you can have breakfast at a normal time, within one hour of waking. Then you have lunch 4 to 5 hours later, and dinner 5 to 6 hours after that. We know that’s not realistic for everyone. In our pilot program, we worked with a lot of healthcare workers whose schedules included night shifts or long hours. Developing a food schedule within their hectic work days was a vital step in helping their bodies better digest meals. Interestingly too, one of the best ways to combat jet lag and adjust to a new time zone is to eat on a new schedule. The times that we eat inform our natural biorhythms. Our food schedules guide our digestion, elimination, and hormone cycles. The times you eat can potentially be one of the most important factors to your health.

Developing Your Meal Schedule

Experiment with various meal schedules in order to develop the best eating pattern for your body. Find what works for you within your day. One of the big things we ask our readers to do is to nourish your body to health. We want you to learn to listen to your body’s natural signaling. A regular dietary schedule will help regulate these signals to make them more trustworthy. When your body trusts you to feed it at regular times, you can trust your body to accurately tell you when it is hungry and full. I have always found that something in the body calms down when it knows that it will be nourished. This also helps with stress reduction and better regulation of body processes.

This week, try making a meal schedule “recipe.” Lay out the specific times you will eat each day, and then follow that as if you were following directions to a recipe. Regardless of what you eat, try following this schedule for two full weeks. Take care to notice how your body changes during that time. There will be days you need extra snacks that you didn’t plan for. That’s totally fine. Your body’s need for snacks will depend of various lifestyle factors, including hormone fluctuations, amount of sleep you received the previous night, and the level of stress in that particular day. Use snacks to accommodate these daily changes. Commit to your schedule for two weeks and see the positive impact in your life.

Let us know how it goes!

  • Hangry McCrankypants

    This is super tough to manage for me. I travel often, usually across 3 time zones. And no matter the time zone I am in, I am not usually hungry until about 4-5 hours after waking. Also, I like to work out in the mornings on an empty stomach, but sometimes I work out mid-morning or midday if my day is busy (not planned that way). Is it really a big deal to switch up and/or delay breakfast time?

  • Maia Brumberg-Kraus

    For me, the hardest part is aligning my hunger patterns with work. I eat breakfast at about 7:45. My lunch break is at 11:40, which is really too early- I’m not hungry yet- but as a teacher, I have little flexibility. Any suggestions for those of us in this situation?

    • DrLudwig

      Perhaps try eating a smaller breakfast so that you will be ready for lunch at 11:40. Then plan for an after school snack to get you through until dinner.
      – Chef Dawn