"I shared your book and web site with several of my book clubs, blog groups and friends; I think it is great to share. I hope your book becomes very successful!" -Susana
Read More Testimonials»

On the Diet and Fitness Blog

Work Your Body, Work Your Mind

It took me a long time to admit that I wasn’t successfully coping with my depression and anxiety on my own. It took even longer to come up with a plan to fight back against my own...

Read More About Work Your Body, Work Your Mind»

Our Living Healthier Experts

Bob Livingstone

Bob Livingstone

LCSW and psychotherapist in private practice for almost twenty...

Shared by First30Days View Profile»
Dean Ornish

Dean Ornish

Professor of medicine and best-selling author

Shared by First30Days View Profile»
Bob Harper

Bob Harper

Fitness trainer on NBC's hit show The Biggest Loser

Shared by First30Days View Profile»

Meet all of our Diet and Fitness Experts»

Expert Network

Get help from our network of more than 300 experts on changes big and small, personal and professional.

Marcella Vonn Harting on Living Healthier

Marcella Vonn Harting on Living Healthier

Marcella Vonn Harting has spent years researching nutrition, acupuncture, iridology, Reiki and aromatherapy, as well as how proper timing enhances health. She’s the author of Yes, No, Maybe: Chronobiotic Nutrition, which illustrates how people can eat a variety of foods as long as they’re consumed at the right time. Here, Harting explains that when you eat is as important as what you eat when trying to live a healthier lifestyle.

How does chronobiotic nutrition work?

The word “chrono” means “time,” and “bio” means “life,” so “chronobiotic” nutrition means “time/life” nutrition. It’s not about a particular diet: My highest choice is never to start any program that starts with the word ‘die.’ I don’t believe in taking away or depriving people of anything that they’re eating in their regimen today. My book is about having it all and looking at the time that you’re taking in the food and how that plays out in the body. It’s about eating foods at a specific time based on the body’s optimum utilization for the easiest digestion and for nutritional efficiency. The concept is based on the timing of the planet and the world we live in. People will find that there are some foods that they can tolerate at a specific time.

Is there a scientific explanation for chronobiotic nutrition?

It is based on chronobiology, a field of biology that examines time-related phenomena in living organisms. These cycles are important in many essential biological processes that occur in a scheduled fashion, such as sleeping, mating, hibernating and migration. The most important rhythm in chronobiology is the circadian rhythm, which refers to the 24-hour daily biological cycle. The circadian rhythm is neither fully dependent nor fully independent of external cues, such as sunlight and temperature. Early researchers identified that some sort of internal rhythm exists because plants and animals did not react immediately to artificially induced changes in daily rhythms. Circadian rhythms have also been rigidly linked to the light/dark cycle: Animals kept in total darkness for extended periods eventually demonstrate a “free running” rhythm with no predictable pattern. This research has influenced the design of spacecraft environments, as systems that mimic the light/dark cycle have been found to be highly beneficial to astronauts.

Does food timing impact individual organs?

Yes. All of the organs of the body have a bio-peak time, starting from the lung time in the morning from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. Doctors are discovering that if they give asthma medication during lung time, the results are better. And so we have lung time, large intestine time and spleen time. When do most heart attacks happen? Statistically, most occur on a Monday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., which is heart time. If you go to the gym and want to build strength and muscle in your body, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. is the best time for you to build strength. If you want to drop weight, you should work out between 9 a.m. and 11a.m. in the morning.

How do you apply this to what and how people eat?

In a perfect world, we would eat about nine meals a day. If we eat a small meal every two to three hours, we actually speed up and keep our metabolism working.

Are there better times for the organs to digest food?

Breakfast should be a very light meal. If you look at the word, it means “breaking a fast,” so choose to eat foods that are most easily assimilated in the morning. Stomach time is in the morning. The timing is based on the planet and on the sun. The sun literally gives off light and radiation. And what gets the highest amount of energy from the sun in the morning? Trees; they’re getting the sun first. There are three actual breakdowns of the planet; everything comes from a tree, bush or root. So what happens when we eat is that we’re actually eating light. Everything in nutrition can be broken down to the periodic table—into an element, a frequency—so we’re utilizing light when we’re eating food.

In the morning, you want to eat food that is at its peak, which is fruit and nuts. Those are very easily assimilated. Lunch is the ideal time for your largest meal of the day. At night, food should be very light. But, typically, Americans eat a heavy meal at night, and this is messing us up. If we don’t eat food at the right time, our bodies store it. Ideally, our nighttime foods grow under the ground, including fish and eggs, which produce melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin is going to produce the drowsiness for you to go to sleep and serotonin is going to help balance us out.

What do you tell people who are skeptical about this food theory?

What I tell people is that you don’t have to believe a word I say, just test it out. So if you decide you’re not going to give up chocolate cake, let me tell you the best time to eat that chocolate cake when your body can assimilated it, utilize it and then eliminate it. And if you look at life and you look at food and nutrition, you’ll see that there’s a poison in every food. There’s arsenic in apples. There’s cyanide in peaches. The miracle of human life is our body and what our body does with this.

For the record, when should someone eat chocolate cake?

Chocolate is actually a morning food because cocoa grows on a tree. And what you’re going to find is that flour, sugar and most of the things that you would use to make a cake are really afternoon foods, which makes chocolate cake a transition food. So, somewhere between 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. is the ideal time to eat chocolate cake or a chocolate chip cookie.

What other factors affect our health?

What we do actually has an impact on our life. I find that people who are overweight have a word pattern that they’re holding onto or they’re waiting for something to happen. It’s actually in the wording, they’re “weight – ing.”

The colors that we wear every day literally feed our body on a whole other level. I find it actually fascinating that as a culture we’re wearing a lot of black. I have observed that there’s a trauma link when someone is obsessed with a color. The trauma with black is a father trauma. As a culture, we’re definitely having challenges with the family roles. So our traumas show up in the real world. We never dress a baby in black; we always dress a baby in colors. So, you could feed yourself on a whole other level just by wearing lots of color. There is no bad color, and there’s no good color. It’s literally the balance of having all colors in our life.

Does our biological clock change over time?

Yes, no, maybe. Those involved in chronobiology are finding that preschool children wake up very early in the morning with a lot of energy and are ready to go to school. So we should start preschool early in the morning. We’re finding that a teenager’s biological clock is different as they go through puberty. A teenager’s peak is actually about 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. So, high schools should start school at noon. We’ve known this for a long time, but we base our school systems around work hours.

What should parents teach their kids about nutrition?

I think one of the most important lessons is that we should really listen to our bodies. Our lives are so fast-paced that one of the things that we do to our bodies that gets us out of balance is that we’re not getting enough sleep. So, it’s about finding balance.

If people come to you with weight issues, what are two or three things you would tell them to do?

First, I would look at their emotional state and look at the patterns in their lives to see if there’s something they’re waiting for or something they’re holding onto. I would get some alignment in that area to get balance. And then I would see how they’re feeding themselves emotionally to fulfill this issue.

How can aromatherapy provide balance?

In my book, I look at how people take in aromatherapy, how people take in box-flower remedies and how we take medicine. If there’s an ideal time for when we take in food, isn’t there an ideal time we take in other things for our body? Our sense of smell ties us into our emotional body. It creates warm fuzzies or repulsion. It’s not really what we are smelling, but the association of what was happening in our lives at the time. This can be a wonderful tool to bring us back into balance.

What are positive ways for people to deal with stress?

Yawning, laughing, farting and sneezing. One of the things that happens in our body when we have stress is internal pressure. And internal pressure breaks fat down into gas. So, if you can find an outlet to release this internal pressure, that is phenomenal.

What does it mean to live healthier?

For me, to live healthy is to have balance in my life. Living healthy is to take in whole, live foods in moderation, exercise and live your passion.

For more information about Marcella Vonn Harting, visit www.marcellavonnharting.com.

Posted: 12/28/07