If a person’s daily routine is determined by his work schedule, the time of at least one meal is usually strictly defined. In this case, it is advised to maintain the regularity of meals, as it is also required by our physiology.
A person is strongly influenced by circadian rhythms. If you ate a potato with butter at 1 p.m. today, then tomorrow by this time a so-called reaction of expectation will be formed: digestive enzymes necessary for digesting potatoes with butter will be synthesized some time in advance. Such synthesis requires quite a lot of energy, so the organism tries to prepare for the meal in advance. Then, if in the next day you have lunch at the same time and eat something rich in starch, even if it is not a potato, the food will be digested very easily and with minimum additional energy expenses.
However, in the first 24 hours the reaction of expectation is only starting to take place, though it can become quite tangible. If you continue eating food of similar structure for several days, the reaction will stabilize and its intensity will increase significantly. When the reaction occurs, the organism waits for some food it is used to for a little bit more than an hour, counting small intervals before and after the established time. If, in this case, you eat much earlier or later, or eat very different food (this especially considers proteins requiring very specific sets of enzymes for digestion), the organism will need additional energy for producing the necessary juices.
Have you ever wondered why do you often feel sleepy after eating? It happens because the energy required for digestion is drawn from other systems. If there is not enough of it, your body has to economize and sleep is one of the most economic types of activities. The sleepiness after eating can also be caused by “dirty” energetic channels and overeating (what is also fairly explainable).
Usually, in 2-3 days the organism gets used to the regimen and its breaches can be very perceivable sometimes. The expectation reaction is formed as a result of any periodic impacts. When something happens every day, every second day, once in three days… For example, a person goes to a party every weekend and in a couple of weeks a corresponding physiological rhythm is established. The same applies to periodical fasting, periodic workloads etc. However, when it comes to circadian rhythms the adaptation process happens faster.
Fortunately, there are other factors apart from eating that play an important part. For example, strong emotions, intense intellectual activity and other stressful impacts can slow down formation and effects of the expectation reaction. Important news can easily make you forget about the upcoming lunch. Strong feelings will also cause a slowdown in other parts of the nervous system, the preparation for a meal will be interrupted, necessary enzymes will not be synthesized and so there will be no hunger. We cannot say this is bad.
To a certain extent you can consciously control the preparation processes of your organism by preparing yourself in advance for some particular food or fasting. This, by the way, explains the secret of why experienced people do not feel hungry when fasting. The brain of a person used to fasting already gives a command: “I am not eating tomorrow!” and the body obediently switches to the purification mode. The digestive organs are calmed down and the feeling of hunger does not come. By anticipating tasty food, on the contrary, you can tune your organism for eating even in the time when you do not usually eat.
Apart from emotions and conscious commands, the expectation reaction can be influenced by physical loads, heat, cold, tiredness, diseases and many other factors. In the end, the readiness of our organism for eating is always expressed by the feeling of hunger.
When you do not feel hungry (when you are sick, for example), you just should not eat, otherwise your organism will undoubtedly be harmed. There is not a problem if there is no appetite by the established lunchtime, as your hunger will let you know when your body needs food.
The natural feeling of hunger should be maintained in a “working condition” without being spoiled by sweets, often meals or systematic neglect. Then, if you have an established routine, the feeling of hunger will come on its own shortly before the mealtime.
Text: from the book A.Eddar “Treatise of nutrition”. Interpreter: Liza Dukhova