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Time to Eat

November 8, 2010

Growing up, I never had a lot of flexibility around when I was going to have a meal. I don’t remember the specifics from when I was little, but I know that by the time I was in high school, my eating had to fit in around school. I ate breakfast around 5:30 in the morning, lunch around 10:30 or 11 (they had shifts for the lunch period, and this earliest one was the only one that worked if I wanted to be in band), and I had a snack when I got home around 3:15. This meant that I often wasn’t hungry for supper, since we always ate at 5:30 p.m., which was when Mom got home from her school day and before the news started. But I ate supper anyway, because it was a mealtime, and it was important to Mom (and the rest of us) that we eat as a family.

I’ve gotten away from that in the past few years, eating when I’m hungry even if it’s not a mealtime, and not eating at a mealtime if I’m not hungry. Mostly I do try to plan things so that I’m hungry around traditional mealtimes, because it’s convenient, but I know I’m not tied to it.

Which makes this month interesting, as this past week I traveled to the Pacific coast, returned home just in time for the end to daylight savings, and am now preparing to go to Paris in a couple of weeks. After all my travel experiences, I know that one of the best ways for me to adjust to a new time is to start eating at “mealtimes” according to that new time, and that means eating at some pretty bizarre hours.

For instance, on Friday, I woke up at 3:15 a.m. and had breakfast. This sounds crazy on the surface of it, except that I was preparing to head back to Maine and knew that I would be losing 3 hours of time, so it was really like 6:15. But I wasn’t eating then just because it was more of a normal breakfast-time back home; I had deliberately eaten a light supper, and by 3:15 I was actually hungry. Then I had another meal around 9 (knowing it was really more like noon, and also because I was hungry), and had a couple of lighter snacks through the rest of the day as I needed them.

Similarly, in preparation for going to Paris, I already know that I’m going to adjust how much I eat so that the day I head out, I’ll be hungry mid-afternoon (since Paris is six hours ahead), and then I won’t eat again until morning in Europe; I’ll skip the dinner option provided by the plane in favor of sleep.

I realize this is probably more trouble than most people take, and I do wonder if I go a bit overboard. Then again, when I think about how jet-lagged I was my first trip to Europe, and some of my earlier travels, I think it’s worth it. The key is once I’m wherever I am, to get back to eating when I’m hungry, and thoroughly enjoying what I’m eating – and that’s something I fully intend to do in Paris.

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