Monday, January 10, 2011

Why Do You Eat?

Why do you eat?  I know, sounds like a dumb question, but if take a moment to really think it through, you may find some surprising answers.  The initial response from most people is "cause I'm hungry".  But in reality, most people eat because its meal time or because they are bored.

Who devised the traditional American meal schedule - breakfast - lunch - dinner and why are we so obsessed with sticking to it?  I would say its mostly habit, rather than need.  If you go back in time a couple of hundred years, life was much harder physically, which meant we needed a lot more fuel to manage our lives.  Farm families for example, had fairly rigid meal schedules and tended to eat a lot of food for breakfast (before hitting the fields) and dinner (after a long hard day on the farm) with a minimal lunch to keep them going.  Food and eating wasn't an option, it was a requirement.  Yet most of these people were not extremely overweight because they managed to burn off what they took in.

But today, we all the automation of life, we are much less active and really requre very little in the way of food to fuel our daily activities... how much energy does it take to drive a car, ride and elevator and sit in a chair?????  So for many of us, we gave the the true need for large amounts of food to keep us going, but when that clock ticks around to meal time we are quick to the table.

Now I know some of you will argue that you naturally feel hungry at meal time, and thus you are responding to your bodies natural needs.  But I would venture to say that the supposed hunger pang you are experiencing might be more of a habitual response rather and a physical response.  We have been programmed to eat at certain times since we were children, thus we have been conditioned to a schedule.

As I have ventured along in my weight loss journey, I have focused on eating only when I really am hungry, rather than because its a certain time of day.  The result is that I do routinely skip meals.  Uh-oh - doesn't that violate the advice of all the experts???

First of all, the experts are speaking about generalities - they don't know my body.  True, many people skip meals, then make up for it by overeating later, or increasing the snacks, which just makes things worse.  But if you really work at it, you can break the schedule and replace it with a "eat to satisfy need" mentality.  Sure its tough, but if you can focus on the hunger aspect, you may find that you don't need to eat nearly as much as you think. 

I do NOT starve myself - skipping a meal because I am NOT hungry is not a starvation kind of thing.  Starvation is stupid, because you can't maintain it and your body does need fuel to power it.  Starvation will make you weak, which will decrease your exercise levels, which will negate the weight management efforts.  But choosing not to eat because your body doesn't need the input is not a bad thing.  In fact, I feel better when I eat less - within reason.

Something to think about - actually it takes a lot of thought and focus to make it work, but at least start asking the question at mealtime: "am I really hungry or just following the schedule?"  If you aren't really hungry, then adjust your intake of food to match your need - maybe its just a few bites, maybe its nothing at all... you decide.

Oh, by the way, not being hungry at meal time due to a proliferation of snacks in between, doesn't count either!

No comments:

Post a Comment