As you may have guessed, I am a morning person in every sense of the word. I wake up early on my own, I’m a morning exerciser and I’m a morning eater! It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized how strange I am in the world of morning eating. My mother and I are what we affectionately call “front loaders”. We get more done before 10 am than most people do all day, and then we crash around 9pm. Every night, without fail, we are in bed by 9. In addition to being hyper productive in the morning, we are hyper hungry. I’ve tried just about every diet plan under the sun (some for weight loss, most of them just to see what worked best for me) and every single one of them followed the idea that your breakfast and lunch are significantly smaller in quantity than your dinner. This is the exact opposite of what works best for me, and what my hero Adele Davis has to say about proper nutrition. After all, the old proverb says “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” On any given day, I’d say I get about 1/3 to 1/2 of my daily calories before lunch, and only about 1/4 at dinner. If I don’t follow this “front loading” view of food, I am so ravenously hungry by 2pm that I can’t think straight. When I say I eat big breakfasts, I don’t mean big like a bowl of yogurt and some fruit; I mean big like a bowl of yogurt topped with flax seed, apple and banana, a protein bar, and the occasional (ok more than occasional) tablespoon of peanut butter. Yes, thats a LOT of food, but its the only thing that keeps me from chewing my arm off by 11am. My lunches are pretty boring- salad, some sort of protein (hard boiled eggs, leftover salmon, tuna,etc) and a piece of fruit. Dinner is even less interesting- fish (generally salmon or cod) and a vegetable.
I guess this way of eating came from my mother- the queen of all massive breakfasts. I’ve mentioned before that my mom is my exercise hero; she is also my food hero. Our house was always filled to the brim with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and chocolate (my mother’s true indulgence) and I credit her with not only interest in nutrition, but my desire to take care of myself with food. My mother’s typical breakfast includes a huge bowl of oatmeal with milk, wheat germ and a bowl of fruit as large as your head. Around 11 am she is digging into her homemade stash of whole grain muffins (omg, soooooo yummmy) and lunch is a vat of salad with crunchy veggies, a protein source and nice big piece of fruit. It was not uncommon when I was growing up for our dinners to consist of a huge plate of steamed veggies topped with spices, olive oil and sprinkle of parmesan cheese. As always, we followed this up with a nice piece of chocolate- because your life needs to be balanced and as my mother always says: every good diet involves chocolate.
So I ask all you non-morning eaters….how do you do it?!? I’m told my father was one of you people…would wake up at 5am, go for an 8 mile run (ya, my parents were nuts…if I had no athletic ability I’m pretty sure they’d think I was switched at birth) and then go to work and no eat until 3pm when he’d have, as my mother said, a peanut, and then come home and eat a MASSIVE dinner. It boggles my mind how people like him don’t want to eat everything in sight by the afternoon, but I suppose it really is true that everyone’s body and metabolism work differently. It appears the message of this long rambly post is just that: everyone is different and no plan is right. It has taken me a long time to come to this realization. I have fought eating disorders, poor body image (I’m not going to admit I have perfect or even good body image right now, but I’m working on it) and tried everything I could to eat like my friends and still feel good. Turns out, I should have stopped that long ago and just listened to my body. My body likes to wake up early, workout hard, eat a LOT and then crash into bed at 9 pm. It works, I’m healthy, and trying to be happy with that. Morning eaters, unite!