For anyone wanting to acquire the best health possible, recovery from addictive eating patterns is an absolute necessity. There’s no greater indication that a person is still shackled by addiction than regular breakfast eating. Accounting for how the breakfast habit originally came about in our culture is as simple as understanding that withdrawal is uncomfortable, and that ‘hair of the dog’ always brings relief. Nothing feels better to a person in coffee withdrawal than a cup of java. Smokers love to say that they truly enjoy smoking. Of course what they really enjoy is having their withdrawal symptoms go away. It’s the same for the breakfast habit. I first realized this many years ago when I’d note that after eating a late dinner, particularly restaurant fare, I’d wake up feeling ‘ravenous’ the next morning. Of course I didn’t fully realize what was going on until I re-discovered Natural Hygiene 12 years ago, which introduced me to the notion that these feelings were my body attempting to recover from the previous night’s abuse, and that more food was the last thing it needed. After all, my body had spent the night turning all the food I’d eaten that day into ready fuel. With a full tank, adding more food could only take away energy, not provide it, because food is work for the body before it is fuel.
The importance of giving up the regular habit of eating breakfast is not something that is talked about much in the raw world. And when it is mentioned, not much is offered by way of helpful advice for someone who understands that eating in the morning is generally unhealthy and desires to successfully leave the habit behind. For me personally, avoiding regular eating in the morning has been particularly difficult. I’ve made a great deal of progress, but I do still eat breakfast, albeit later and later all the time. So when I received a question recently on this subject, I referred it on to my good friend and natural hygiene mentor, Robert Rust. Following is his brief list of ways to overcome regular morning eating, and some of the reasons for doing so.
Ending the habit of breakfast is a productive step in the progression towards a normal eating program and diet. Each successful step leads to a potential improvement in a related area.
The main benefit of breaking this habit is the increased freedom from eating for emotional reasons and experiencing the simplicity of eating for actual need. When eating for actual need, a person gains a sense of being in control of him/herself. Like other improvements such as eating one type of food at a meal, an increased sense of well being is gained. A person feels lighter, happier, and self-directed.
Eating breakfast regularly is an overeating habit. Errant eating habits are usually addiction habits, so a person has to have reasonable expectations when attempting to overcome the early morning eating habit. Expect it to take some effort and time. Some will find it easier than others just as the others will find other improvements harder to accomplish.
Practices that will help a person to delay eating to a more sensible hour after waking include:
1. Eating mono in the morning. Mixing foods, even different types of fruit, falsely stimulates the digestive system and appetite.
2. Consistently delaying the first meal till later in the morning over a period of time – months or even years.
3. Fasting for a half day, a day, or two or more days, perhaps longer, to get a feel for the freedom of not eating for emotional reasons and instead eating for true hunger.
4. Replacing early meals with lower calorie foods such as a bunch of celery, half a head of lettuce, less sweet fruits.
5. Replacing the early morning eating habit with other activities, such as chores, workouts, walks, etc., that a person can lose him/herself in. This can be the most important, productive effort.
6. Regularly asking oneself if eating is being done out of hunger or if the early morning feed is just a mindless, unquestioned habit.
7. Avoiding reading about food or otherwise being stimulated mentally, emotionally, or physically by food – see no evil, hear no evil, think no evil, smell no evil, touch no evil – make it easy for oneself.
8. Improvements in other parts of the diet will lead to increased ability to overcome the early morning eating addiction. Improvements such as a simpler diet, more ripe fruit eating, lower volumes of food, less frequent eating, not eating after 8pm or so, refraining from food stimulants such as condiments and spices, less overeating, eating fewer concentrated foods such as dried fruit, nuts, avocados, and such.
9. Enjoying the light, positive feelings that come with delayed eating in the morning. Early eating drains the body of fuel reserves built up overnight, thereby lowering energetic feelings.
10. Noting that this is done for one’s own benefit, that others don’t have to do it with you, even as its helpful to have the support of others who share in the same pursuit. Early eaters miss out on the freedom and joyful feelings that result in overcoming the morning feeding habit.
11. Regularly reminding oneself of the increased sense of self control and freedom from food slavery that comes with delaying the first meal until later in the day.
12. Reducing the quantity and variety of foods that are available in the morning, thus making self stimulation with foods more difficult to achieve.
13. Be prepared to not be perfect. The direction is important. As the addiction habit is overcome, the body will direct food intake by its senses, and sometimes it will like to eat a bit of light food in the morning.
14. Increase physical activity during the day if it’s lacking.
15. Sleep with windows open for fresh air and deeper sleep that provides for more energetic feelings and abilities in the morning without having to resort to stimulating habits such as eating early.
16. Sometimes it’s easy to not eat early, other times more difficult. Sometimes a person has to be hard on themselves during stretches of time, but at other times a bit more relaxed so as not to develop new habits that are mentally based instead of sense based.
17. Remind oneself that food will be available later in the day if one is missing the false feelings that come with eating food early.
18. Remind oneself that millions of people already don’t eat breakfast and are the better for it. It’s possible to do and beneficial to do.
Ending the morning eating habit is not critical to health but it is important to the freeing of oneself from food slavery. It leads to a better understanding of the natural and true role of food in our lives: that we eat to live, not live to eat.