ONE meal a day? How about one meal every other day?
Any of you who have perused this site and checked out the reading material may have noticed that the dietary habits recommended tend to be quite strict and "restrictive" in nature. At first it seems nearly impossible to follow that regimen perfectly, nor does it seem enjoyable, or healthy. I present this material to get you thinking about nutrition in a different way. I don't present or talk about anything that I have not tried myself. I've done the ketogenic diet, the paleo diet, vegetarian, vegan, raw, fruitarian, the Medical Medium liver rescue cleanse, celery juice in the mornings, intermittent fasting, three day fasts, week long master cleanse fasts, one meal per day (the topic of this post). They all started out promising, but ultimately no single way of eating has impressed me longer term.
One thing that happens when I jump into these nutrition trials is that I dive head first, don't look back, and annoy the crap out of my family and friends. Mostly because they know that I don't stick with it forever and know I'll stop. But there is one great benefit to doing this that I am going to share with you, and why I recommend diving head first into any dietary change you are thinking about doing. This also goes for anything in life, not just nutrition. Sometimes these drastic changes stick 100% with us and we never look back. Most of us never stick with it. But what most don't realize is that that devotion to a method changes us long term. I have noticed that every single one of the eating methods I have tried has left an amazing imprint on my health, eating habits, and outlook on life in general. When you devote yourself to something entirely it's impossible for that not to happen. It changes your core. Many people (including myself for a long time) look at "diets" as just a thing that will fail. However, I realize now that it is never a failure. It's a valuable lesson.
I'm going to share just a couple of the transformative aspects of these diets that have stuck with me. The reason for the title of the post is to grab your attention and to focus on the main point I want to make here. And that is the concept of REST. If you've ever tried to train for something, compete at a high level, or put on muscle, you have probably heard that the changes happen when we rest and let our body heal and recover. It is not the input or stimulus that makes the change in our bodies, it is the reaction to those stimuli that makes the literal physical changes. The coolest thing is that this concept applies to the mind as well as the energy body. Everything we do on a regular basis, with 100% devotion and focus leaves an energy trace along with the physical changes. If you don't believe me, look at any one of your current habits. Now trace it back to the time when you think it happened. See if your current habit is anything like what you did when it started. If you are one of the few who stick with a plan all the way forever, then it probably looks the same. For the rest of us, we do something that resembles the original habit, or still do one thing from it. This may not make any sense right now. I'm sort of just mind splattering because it is a difficult concept to write about. The bottom line is that growth happens with giant leaps and slightly smaller fallbacks. It's not the whole two steps forward one step back concept. Growth seems to happen in really really small steps with huge efforts and huge setbacks (at least this is my experience).
How does this have anything to do with the one meal a day idea and the concept of rest? If the body needs rest to grow and change, and the stomach and alimentary tract as a whole is part of the body, then doesn't it make sense that it too needs rest? You might be thinking, "I give it rest, I don't graze like a cow. And even when I do graze I eat every one to two hours. Isn't that enough rest?" I previously wrote about how long different foodstuffs take to empty from the stomach and pass through the digestive tract. You'll remember that even eating three meals per day does not leave enough time in between meals, even if you are only eating plants. The body spends roughly 30% of its total energy on digesting food, which means 30% less energy devoted to repairing damaged tissues, patrolling the body for AWOL cells, and fighting cancer (at any given time we all have cancerous cells in our bodies, but they are kept in check in healthy bodies). Do you think you would be able to run a marathon if during your training you ran four hours three times a day? No way. (You wouldn't have nay rest in between because that adds up to 12 hours) My guess is you wouldn't make it a week on that training schedule before you started getting aches, pains, injuries, and emotional fatigue. That's our stomach and intestinal tract's predicament. The problem is our emotions and the pathogens we've picked up along the way have hijacked our normal eating habits.
The only way to give our digestive system rest is to allow time for all the food from one meal to pass all the way out of our bodies. Then, and only then, does the body really do some miraculous healing. The problem is, most of the food we eat takes more than the few hours we give it to pass through us. Even fasting while we sleep for eight hours isn't enough. Our digestive systems are constantly working, so our bodies cannot fully focus on healing, nor can our digestive systems heal. Ever heard of IBS? That's an unhappy digestive tract. A failing digestive tract. An overworked one.
I don't know how I got so far away from the one meal a day concept. I kept this concept and habit with me, along with avoiding all meat, dairy, and egg products, eating fruit only on an empty stomach and not mixed with other foods. I really cannot believe I'm going to say this next thing, but here it goes. If I could only do one of the things listed above, I would practice eating only one meal a day, even if that meant I would eat anything I wanted (within reason, and obviously not eating junk food only). The reason is, if we give our bodies a chance, and enough time, it will ensure that no toxins or pathogens in the food we eat will do us any harm. When we don't allow it to rest, it will not have enough energy to protect us. Period. This is why the body breaks down, becomes weak, and leaves us vulnerable. At least that's what I think.
Health is not necessarily about getting more of the good nutrients. It never was. It is about being able to remove the bad stuff faster than it takes for them to do damage to our bodies. We live in a world full of toxins. It's unavoidable. So lets do what we can to let our bodies do what they are good at; keeping us healthy.
As always, do your research before trying anything. But if I only recommended one nutritional piece of advice, it would be to eat only once every 24 hours. It doesn't matter what time, just make it consistent. Give your body, and especially your digestive tract, REST, and you'll see miraculous things happen.
Sorry for the zigzagging. Let me know below what you've tried and how it has worked for you. Everyone is different.