One of the Biggest Mistakes we Make with Food
One of the biggest mistakes we make with food on a cultural level is assuming that healthy eating (I'm not a huge fan of that term but I'll use it here because it's the term that most will be familiar with) is synonymous with eating the least amount possible.
This idea is reinforced everywhere: on social media, menus, in casual conversation and on and on. But the truth is you very likely have an unrealistic idea in your head about how much food you need. In other words, most people need more food than they think they do.
I know this might sound scary so let me explain. The way we’ve been taught to view food is to get by with the least amount possible. Ideas like: “fill up on foods that don’t actually give our bodies significant energy” and “avoid things that are calorically dense” dominate the cultural conversation about food. It should be noted clearly here that I’m not knocking vegetables. It’s great to eat veggies in addition to other foods! But there is more to adequate, balanced nourishment than vegetables alone.
When you find yourself grazing and/or ravenous at the end of a day where you’ve tried to get by on the least amount of food possible, this is actually an adaptive response. This is your body being smart. This is your body getting what it needs. When you try to not eat much, your body responds by helping you eat more. This is the basics of biology and science in general: the concept of homeostasis applies with energy intake just like it does with pH levels in the body, calcium regulation with bones and so on.
Rather than approaching food from the mindset of trying to get by on the least amount possible, try approaching food (yes even at the beginning and middle of your day) with the mindset of: how can I get enough?
Enough will very likely mean eating more at times. Commonly, eating enough will look like more food in the beginning and middle of your day. It also might look like eating less at other times because you are finally nourishing yourself at regular intervals throughout the day. When you are consistently nourished, you aren't in compensation mode and therefore will find yourself eating more consistent amounts throughout the day rather than daily restrict-binge patterns.
To the person who is reading this thinking “I eat too much! This post can’t possibly have anything to do with me!” Here’s what I want you to ask yourself: am I physically or mentally restricting during the day, or for days/weeks at a time? Do I find myself swinging from that restriction into eat-everything-I-can-mode? If this is true for you, I just want you to know that you would very likely benefit from shifting to a more mindset around food. Eating “too much” is pretty much always a response to restriction, mental or physical. If you feel you're eating too much, trying eating more throughout the day and try tapping into the feeling of enoughness after every single time you eat. You'll likely find that feeling satisfied multiple times throughout the day helps tremendously in normalizing your eating patterns and connecting you more fully to your body's cues of hunger and fullness.
That this concept can be very tough to wrap your head around. This post is intended to get you thinking—not intended to be individual nutrition advice. If you need more support with this concept, check out the services we offer in our practice. We are all accepting new clients at this time and would be honored to help you on your journey toward a healthier, more positive relationship with food and body.