In the past, you may have heard the suggestion that you should eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. You were told to do this because it would give you a more frequent influx of energy to help keep you more active, and because eating frequently helps your body burn calories more efficiently. In fact, both of those assertions are true. As someone struggling to lose weight, though, you probably couldn’t care less.
Here’s the most important reason that you need to eat all the time: Once you acknowledge the fact that the minute you cut back on your caloric intake, your body metabolism is going to start sending out the psychological and physiological messages that you are starving, your first order of business is to quell that feeling of starvation whenever possible.
So, you need to eat all the time. On average, most people will find that they need to eat something every two to three hours, but this is not a fixed number. You will need to listen to your body and eat whenever you start to feel hungry.
I realize that this concept goes against the grain of most people trying to lose weight. Even now, I sometimes still have to fight back old deep-seated feelings of guilt and shame when other people see me eating. So many of us have always felt that we need to hide the fact that we were hungry, so we snuck food and tried to eat it when others who might judge us were not looking.
It’s time to get over it. If you want to handle your chronic starvation, you are going to have to eat. Explain this to your loved ones and help them understand. Then you will no longer feel the need to hide cookies in your underwear drawer—you will stop and eat a handful of low-salt pretzels or a low-fat granola bar in plain sight of everyone when you get hungry. Forget getting up in the middle of the night to sneak ice cream—you will have already made a point of having a low fat dessert after dinner so you no longer feel the need to lurk around in the dark looking for a midnight sugar fix.
You may end up choosing to have three primary meals and three or four snack breaks throughout the day, or you may find that you eat one or two primary meals and snack more frequently. Or you may come up with your own algorithm that is somewhere in between.
The importance of eating all the time to lose weight was poignantly illustrated to me on a recent trip to the supermarket. I was checking out with my weekly shopping and had filled the conveyor belt with the ingredients for the next week’s healthy meals and snacks.
After I placed the divider stick down, a very heavy young lady came up behind me to check out and placed her basket on the conveyor belt. It was filled to the brim with boxes of Slim-Fast® bars. It was quite a stark contrast next to the four feet of salads, lean meats, nuts, tea, skim milk, fruits, vegetables, and other food items on my side of the divider. I knew that I was going to be eating lots of real food all week, many times a day, and that I would be keeping a reign on my appetite and keeping my weight down.
At the same time, I knew that she would be doing what so many of us have done so many times before. She would try to eat those miniscule bars throughout the day and grit it out until her one “sensible meal.” And for the better part of the day, she would be desperately hungry and completely miserable. Depending on her motivation, she might be able to keep up with the draconian regime for a week or so, but pretty soon she would give into her hunger and return to her old eating habits. Of course, her metabolism will have dropped to accommodate her drastic caloric reduction, and any weight that she lost will fly back on—plus a few extra pounds that her body will pack on to protect itself against her next diet assault.
We have all been there and done that, yet the lure of “fast and easy” promises still too often manages to cloud our better judgment. The key is to train ourselves to make the right choices when we do eat. For me, it took awhile to replace the junk that I used to eat with healthier choices, but I absolutely never allow myself to get too hungry. I always have a healthier choice within arm’s reach.
The reason for this is simple: all my ability to make good choices heads right out the window when I’m ravenous.
About the Author:
Michelle Pearl, is an actual patient of CosMed Plastic Surgery Center who had a thigh lift and reconstructive surgery with Dr. Quiroz after her weight loss. She is also a CPT, GFI, LWMC is a fitness expert, entrepreneur, former award-winning newspaper columnist and the author of Wake Up, You Are Probably Never Going to Look Like That; How to be Happier, Healthier and Imperfectly Fit. For more information visit her video blog at www.FedUpFemale.com