22 Oct 2013
I used to get a solid eight hours of sleep and would do everything in my power to protect this sacred practice. Then Finn came into my life and along with him, many months of five hours of sleep, maybe six. I got so accustomed to it that even after he starting sleeping through the night (his ten-month birthday present to me), I would wake at least twice, my body anticipating his cries, toss for fifteen minutes and go back to sleep – until he stirred my body from its poorly rested state at 6 a.m.
During those nights, I would often wander into the kitchen, snack on dried mangos or open a new bag of ginger cookies. During the days, pasta was the preferred meal and on more than one occasion I sought comfort in the corner pizza joint. I’m convinced the only way I managed to not gain twenty pounds was from the continuous picking up and carrying around of a twenty-pound infant.
Turns out that getting a full night’s uninterrupted sleep is one of the strongest factors in eating well. Sleep loss causes changes in the brain that make you crave high calorie food and weakens your willpower to resist them. The amygdala (which governs the desire for food) shows increased activity and the frontal lobe (which regulates decision making) shows decreased activity.
So this fall, rather than just blaming my bed, I’m starting a complete review of ALL the practices and habits that have not served me well and am doing a makeover. Here are a few of them:
Earlier bedtime: If I can be in bed by 10:30 p.m., my 6 a.m. human alarm will not feel quite so jarring.
Wearing ear plugs: I now swear by them and find the nights I don’t wear them, I am 100% more likely to wake during the night to anything from the sound of Finn turning over to a bug hitting its head on the window.
Making food in advance and freezing it: There is nothing that will send you to the cereal box faster than an empty fridge. One of the easiest foods to freeze and reheat is quiche which I freeze by the slice.
Planning out a recipe BEFORE buying the ingredients: I find that when I buy random ingredients that I THINK I might use, 80% of the time, they wait for me on the fridge shelf, slowly wilting and drifting off to a slow vegetable death. If I have the recipe planned in advance and know HOW I’ll use the ingredients, I use them.
No dinner after 7 p.m.: This can be a tricky one as it’s often not until Finn’s asleep that I have the energy or desire to fuel myself, but I’ve found a strong correlation with how fit and healthy I feel, and how late I’ve eaten.
Cleaning out the cluttered cupboards: Start with the kitchen, and keep going all the way into the bedroom and hallway. I find that creating a clean, uncluttered home gives me a renewed sense of order in ALL manners of my life – including how and what I eat.
Any habits you’re going to break or new habits you’re adding this fall?
MichelleCheck out my latest posts here