Over the past (almost) two years and 60 pounds of losses and gains, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I honestly feel like I’ve grown more in the past 18 months than I have in the 18 years prior. (“Grown” being used in the figurative way, of course, since I stopped growing literally when I was about 16. Well, stopped growing taller, at any rate. Heh.) I’ve learned a lot about my relationship with food, my relationship with my body, and my relationship with myself.
Birthdays: 21 vs. 24, haha.
I’ve learned that I don’t do so well when I cut off certain food groups completely (see: Lent 2011), that eating fat doesn’t make you fat, that being well-hydrated is more important than I ever could have thought, that I can gain weight back REALLY easily… oh the list goes on. I’ve learned that my body (and my self-control) runs most efficiently when I’m eating smaller amounts throughout the day, rather than waiting for two or three huge square meals, where there is a huge likelihood of overeating.
The latest lesson that I’m learning is closely related to that last point. See, I used to be a two-meal-a-day kind of person. You know, PWL (pre-weight-loss), I would wake up every day, skip breakfast (too time consuming! Must sleep!) and go until about noon or 1 PM without eating. Then, I would gorge myself at lunch, be full until late in the evening, and gorge myself at dinner, too. Of course, on days when I was feeling a little more emotionally-fragile than others, that mealplan might have been supplemented with a late-night binge too.
Since successfully revamping my toxic relationship with food (for the most part), a lot of that has changed. I come to work every morning with a bag packed to the brim with all manner of healthy (er, sometimes healthy-ish) snacks to keep me sated throughout the day. There’s instant oatmeal at my desk for the times I forget to eat something before I leave the house. I have savory and sweet things to satisfy whichever tooth is particularly aching at any given moment. Bringing these sorts of libations has become crucial for me, because on the days when I have either forgotten or been too lazy to pack snacks, my old habits have reared their ugly heads. I’m so ravenous by lunchtime that I generally end up hoovering all manner of unhealthy things. (And of course, those days usually coincide with the ones where I haven’t brought my lunch either, so the damage is even worse.) So, you see, I’ve learned. I bring snacks. I don’t let myself get too hungry. Even as I type this, I’m nomming on a package of dried apricots and a little bit of mango.
The only thing is, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m starting to lean a little bit too far in the other direction now. My entire day from breakfast until dinner (which still tends to be a stand-alone meal) is pretty much nothing but constant, continuous snacking. Even my lunch is usually made up of a variety of snacks: a tiny portion of whatever leftovers I might have, a BabyBel cheese, some fruit, some hummus and chips… all things that end up being eaten separately and throughout the course of a few hours rather than as an actual, cohesive “lunch”. I’m rarely ever truly HUNGRY throughout the day, even though I continue to snack, from fear of knowing what might happen to my self-control whenever I DO get hungry. I feel like I’m starting to realize that I’m probably eating a lot more than I really NEED to be, because I haven’t really been allowing my hunger cues to dictate when or what I’m eating. It’s more like, I eat because I think I should be, because I don’t want to let myself get too hungry, because I don’t want to falter.
On the weekends, when my schedule is significantly different, a really different way of eating comes out. Because I will often be out doing things that don’t allow me to reach over and grab a handful of granola every 15 minutes, I get HANGRY. And as I’m sure my family, friends, and boyfriend will attest, I’m less tolerant of being hungry now than I used to be. My snack-food safety net is usually gone, and I have to — gasp! — wait to eat. By the time I actually get around to being able to eat, it’s usually from a restaurant and it’s usually not the best choice ever. My weekends tend to be much unhealthier than my weekdays because of this, and I often fall back into the 2-meals-a-day thing on Saturdays and Sundays. I wake up late, so breakfast is usually tiny (if it’s anything), and then I have a big lunch and dinner. On the other hand, however, I feel like I’m actually eating less overall, because I’m not just constantly shoveling things into my mouth.
It feels like a Catch-22 to me. I know that I need to have snacks so as to prevent myself from getting so hungry that I make really bad choices, but I also feel like it’s gotten to the point where I’m snacking too much. I need to find a middle ground, but I’m not really sure how to do it. I’m scared of falling back into habits that have the potential to cause my to backslide… but I also still need to lose some weight (and that hasn’t really been happening in quiiiiiite a while, haha). I think that the answer lies somewhere in forcing myself to experiment with my intake, allowing myself to be hungry, and having faith that doing so won’t automatically cause me to binge. Here’s hoping, eh?
What’s your snacking philosophy?