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Daylight Savings and Eating by the Clock

Recently, the comic strip Pickles had a little series about mealtimes. The comic is about an older retired couple, Opal and Earl, and Earl said he couldn’t tell if he was hungry until he checked the time. So, Opal changed the clocks to see if he would notice the change and if he’d start feeling hungry no matter what the clock said.

It was funny, but it also had a lot of truth to it. So often, we eat based on what time it is, without checking to see if we’re hungry. Or you may not eat when you’re hungry because it’s not the “right time”.

But as Douglas Adams so aptly noted, “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”

And if you need more convincing about that, just consider switching to and from Daylight Savings Time.

What time is it?

For those of us in the United States, last night was when Daylight Savings Time ended and we set back our clocks an hour.

Suddenly, what was once noon is now 11 a.m., and what was 6 p.m. is now 5 p.m. (And it gets dark far too early, at least here in Maine.)

If you normally have lunch at 12 or 12:30, what does that mean for today? Will you eat at 11 or 11:30, because it still feels like lunchtime? Or will you wait until 12 or 12:30 because you eat by the clock? And this is a minor change compared to crossing multiple time zones, when suddenly you could lose or gain two, three, or even more hours.

Even though we’ve changed the clocks, it takes our bodies a while to adjust, as pets and kids will remind us. They’re much more focused on eating when they’re hungry, no matter what the clock says. (My kitties were quite adamant about that.)

Now I realize that sometimes you need to eat at a specific time because of other commitments. In those situations, you can try to plan your eating accordingly, so you’ll have a reasonable chance of feeling hungry when it’s time to eat – and remember, this takes some practice.

Are you hungry?

Other times, though, it’s good to wait until you’re hungry (but not ravenous) to eat.

To find out if you’re physically hungry, see if you can step away from the clock and/or the food. If you can’t step away, maybe close your eyes.

Then focus on your physical sensations. Is your stomach growling, or does it feel empty? Is your energy low? Do you have a headache or maybe feel lightheaded?

These are all signs of physical hunger, and if you’re feeling them, odds are this is a good time to eat.

But if you find that you simply want to eat because this is when you expect to have a snack or meal, then you can decide if you want to now or wait until you’re hungry.

Hunger doesn’t follow a clock

Although you might wish you only get hungry at specific times of the day, that’s not the reality. Hunger isn’t governed by the clock, and time changes make that very clear.

So, as you adjust to the new clock setting, be gentle with your body and, if you can, be somewhat flexible so you can eat when you’re truly hungry.


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