I bet you’ve heard that you should only be eating at certain times during the day to lose weight or to better your health, but we’re here to tell you that isn’t the case! The internet and social media often feeds us this misinformation, telling us that we HAVE to eat within an hour of waking up to jump start our metabolism, or we CANNOT eat after 8:00pm because it will make us gain weight. We are here to tell you to ignore these recommendations, and instead of only allowing yourself to eat at certain times, we advocate listening to your body and eating when you feel physically hungry. And, similarly, stop or don’t eat when you feel full/satisfied.
Although planning when you eat can seem more convenient, it can lead to more harm than you may realize. First, eating on a specific time schedule can mess up our ability to listen to our bodies. When you are only letting yourself eat at certain times during the day, you may be eating when you aren’t even hungry, or worse, you may be depriving yourself when you feel hungry. This leads to the inability for you to trust your own body, and listen to your hunger cues. Furthermore, this can lead to restriction, and what we call the binge-restrict cycle. If you are not allowing yourself to eat when you feel hungry due to a schedule that you have created for yourself, this may ultimately lead to binging, which often leads to guilt, leading back to restriction, and the cycle continues. Ultimately, listening to your body and eating when you are hungry is best for both your physical and mental health, but how exactly do we stay in tune with our hunger cues?
Listening to your Body
I know – listening to your body is more difficult than it is led to be. It is a challenge to understand whether you actually are feeling hungry, or if your mind is just messing with you. It is important to recognize the difference between physical and emotional hunger. Emotional hunger is brought on by the mind, and can occur when we feel sad, anxious, stressed, or even just bored. It is important to find other ways to honor those feelings, such as stretching, exercising, journaling, reading, listening to music, etc. Before turning to food, we want you to ask yourself if you actually FEEL hungry. But what does it feel like to be hungry? Maybe your stomach is growling, you’re having trouble focusing, you feel shaky or light-headed, or you’re developing a headache. In these instances, it is a good idea for you to grab something to eat.
If you are only allowing yourself to eat at certain times throughout the day, you may be ignoring these hunger cues, which can lead to further consequences, making you feel even more sick. Don’t force yourself to wait until a specific time to eat, and don’t make yourself eat when you are not feeling these hunger cues, as that can lead to ill feelings as well.
If you are struggling to listen to your body, Alli can help! Schedule a call with her here.
This article was written by Emma Bulan, nutrition intern. Fact checked by Allison Tallman RD.