Dietary advice for the mind

Eating around the clock is bad for the body. It messes with our insulin levels, skews how our hormones deploy, and just generally causes problems. That’s the main criticism of the eat-every-two-to-three-hours dietary method. Doing so means our bodies are constantly responding to consumption. They have no chance to chill out and digest what has been chewed up and swallowed.

The mind shares a lot of similarities with the body, and this too is one of them. We’re always eating. Consider information consumption during a typical day. We wake up, check our socials, flit through emails, listen to podcasts and read books, learn about things, watch videos, and read articles and news. When it comes to information, we spend more time consuming than we do digesting. 

The result of always eating is the same in the mind as it is in the body. In fact, one of the reasons I think negative space is so important is that it allows us to digest what we’ve consumed. If every moment is milked, if every pocket of stillness is populated with some “profitable” or “meaningful” activity, then we never have the chance to break down and extract the nutrients from the information that is packed into our day. If our commute, if our cleaning time, if our meals are rammed with new inputs, we can’t work on the old.

Sure, there are some advantages to drip-feeding yourself information around the clock. You can stay current, in-the-know. But at what cost? If you’re always consuming, rarely digesting, how do you know what is signal and what is noise? If we’re always eating, how do sense patterns? How do we know what fills us up and what’s filler? We can’t. All inputs merge into one stream. They become a torrent in which we can’t distinguish one drop from the next. 

So this is dietary advice for the mind. Just for a moment, just for an hour, stop eating. Give your mental faculties a chance to recuperate and act on all the foodstuff you’ve crammed in. Rework your day and life so that digestion is given just as much precedence as consumption.