This week’s question is inspired by Erika from Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss — who I was lucky enough to do a magazine spread with about weight maintenance last year…
That’s me and her (and Michelle) cracking up at one of her jokes at the photo shoot.
Anyway, Erika wrote a post a few months ago called What Happens When You Don’t Eat Often Enough. In the post Erika says:
…I gave myself an eating schedule! I packed away an apple, a pear, an orange, grapefruit slices – something – so that I could have something to bite into whenever my alarm went off.
Yes. I set an alarm. Whenever it went off, it said “Dig in, baby!” and that’s exactly what I did. After that… that “hungry” feeling was completely foreign to me. My energy levels increased. My weight loss couldn’t stall. I had a regular energy supply coming in, so my body could feel more comfortable with burning off energy. From here, calorie counting could actually produce better results. (If I’m not burning energy, any calories I take in will be stored as fat, remember?)
There’s also the issue of nourishing my body throughout the day. I wouldn’t go 6 or 7 hours without feeding an infant, right? Why? Because they need nourishment for their bodies to grow and function properly.
How is the adult body any different? We need not only the constant energy source, but we need the nourishment! Our bodies cannot function as well as it should if its only working on limited resources. We absolutely must eat… and nothing’s wrong with eating a little more often!
I totally agree! We MUST eat!
However, I do think there are a major differences between adult and infant bodies.
Requirements for macronutrients and micronutrients are higher on a per–kilogram basis during infancy and childhood than at any other developmental stage. These needs are influenced by the rapid cell division occurring during growth, which requires protein, energy, and nutrients involved in DNA synthesis and metabolism of protein, calories, and fat.
So using the infant example doesn’t hold water for me as a reason to eat on a regular schedule, completely ignoring your body’s signals and hunger levels.
Much like Erika I (especially when I was losing and had a job away from home) would pack lots of fruits and snacks to have on hand. The big difference between Erika and me, however, is I would NOT eat just because it was time or an alarm would go off. I would eat one of my snacks when I actually felt hunger. And I think was an important part of my success!
I needed to feel the hunger. I wanted to feel it.
I’m not talking about starving myself for hours or days like an anorexic might. It wasn’t a control issue. Or some form of self-torture. It was a learning process.
For years I was scared of my hunger. I didn’t understand it. I rarely felt it and if I did it was basically a green light to eat anything and everything in sight. Why? BECAUSE I WAS HUNGRY!
Instead, I learned to use my hunger as a tool and react to it properly.
Say I ate breakfast at 7 — a bowl of cereal, some milk and frozen blueberries. If I was hungry at 9, I would dip into my bag 0’snacks — maybe a yogurt cup or an apple. If I felt hunger pangs again at 10:30 in I went for a handful of almonds and so on.
If the next day I ate a couple of eggs and a slice of toast, I may notice the hunger didn’t kick in until after 10 so that’s when I’d dip into snacks and grab an orange (or whatever).
This whole time I was learning how to eat, how to manage my hunger and what foods satisfied me. If I never let myself feel my hunger I would have never learned how to effectively nourish my body and manage my food intake in an intuitive way.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m right and Erika is wrong. There isn’t just one way to do “this” and that’s why I’m making it a question of the week. I’m curious (especially if you are a maintainer):
Do you eat intuitively and allow yourself to feel hunger OR are you a scheduled eater who consistently and steadily consumes based on predetermined time frames?