May I introduce you to hungry. Or, for those of you who happen to watch television every now and then, you know this little orange monster to be the face of hungry for Weight Watchers commercials. I guess if we had to choose a face for our hunger pangs, this would be it. However, strange and weird this little monster may be, this furry creature has a point. Hunger. What does it feel like to be absolutely hungry? Is hungry best described as looking at the clock that says 12:00 p.m. and knowing it is time for lunch? Or is hungry totally ignoring what time of day it is, and truly listening to your body? It certainly raises the question that do most Americans eat just because they think their supposed to, or because their actually hungry? We can get a clearer answer to how eating food as evolved by looking back at our past.
In the good ole’ days, people only ate when they were hungry because there was not a big surplus of food. Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers and did not have access to an abundance of food such as restaurants or grocery stores minutes from their home. If we were to look back in history and examine old paintings of women, it is clearly seen that they are more full figured. What most people do not realize, is that back then, by having a fuller figure, it is a representation of wealth. These women’s husband’s had a fair share of money in order to fully stock their homes with an abundance of food. On the other hand, if a woman was on the thinner side, it represented that her family had low income and food supplies were minimal. How did everything get to where it is now in 2010? One reason is increase in goods. We are all well aware that no one is forced these days to go out and hunt for animals and gather fruits and vegetables in order to provide a meal for themselves or their families. With the likes of huge store brands such as Wal-mart or Publix, we Americans have to make very little effort in order to get the food that we need.
But let us look closer at the question: Are you really hungry? With all this availability of grocery stores, fast food places, and even gas station food, we have the opportunity to obtain food 24 hours a day. Whatever happened to the days of eating a breakfast, lunch, and dinner and food places closing their doors by 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. because no one eats any later than that. Today, we can drive by countless fast food places and see the huge sign out front proclaiming “24 hour drive-thru,” or “Now open until midnight.” Ever heard of the phrase “4th meal”? That phrase belongs to Taco Bell.
It is safe to say that America eats when they are hungry, and eats when they are not hungry. Most teenagers these days have hang outs at the likes of Whataburger at 3:00 a.m. in the morning and will be chowing down on food not because they are hungry, but because it is just something to do. Let us examine the relationship between a clock and food. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all clock watchers. We watch the clock at work, at school, maybe perhaps during church, whatever the case, we all care to know what time it is because we have busy lives to live and things to do! But why do so many of us Americans let the clock completely depict exactly when we are to eat food or to be hungry?
Why do most of us humans eat by the clock? Habit of course. Make no mistake that since we have been eating at morning, noon, and night for most of our lives, it is normal for us to be somewhat trained to always eat this way. But what about those of us out there that let the clock affect our eating in a negative way? Here are a few examples:
Kim is watching her weight. She has a simple diet plan and believes that eating 5-6 small meals a day will curve her appetite. She decides that she should eat every 2-3 hours to ensure she will never be hungry and feel the need to binge. One morning while at work, Kim is eating a health bar at 9 am. Her co-worker asked her, “Wow, your hungry? Didn’t you just eat breakfast 2 hours ago?” Kim replies, “No I’m not hungry actually but my diet plan calls for me eating every 2-3 hours.” Her co-worker replies “Well if you want to lose weight, and you’re not hungry, shouldn’t you just only eat when you actually are?”
It’s interesting to see that while Kim was not hungry for her snack, she still ate it anyway because the clock said it was time to eat.
Another example is Gloria. Gloria is at her goal weight and she is finally healthy and happy. Only problem is, she is somewhat scared of being able to maintain her weight once off her diet. She then makes up the rule that she is to not eat anything after 8:00 p.m. for fear that her metabolism will not digest the food well late at night. One evening while working overtime at work, she was not able to get off until after 8 p.m. Rather than possibly sabotaging her new weight by eating late, she decides to skip dinner all together.
What Gloria does not understand is that while she thinks that eating late is wrong and will make her gain weight back, she is actually hurting herself more by not getting needed nutrients. Because she skipped dinner, her metabolism will actually slow down and possibly begin to break down future food that she eats at a slower process. There has been a long time myth running around that in order to lose or maintain weight, one should not eat past a certain time such as 8:00 p.m. It has been proven by experts that there is not a sufficient amount of evidence to support this. Our bodies are not human calculators and do not calculate what we eat according to the time of day or night. What experts do say is that one should eat smaller meals at night in order to help their bodies digest it easier because at night we are less likely to be active and our metabolism slows down.
Whether you eat by the clock or eat when you are hungry what is most important is this: Listen to your body. We can get so used to eating at certain times of the day that we can easily forget what a real hunger pang feels like. Trust your body and know that it will notify you when it needs it’s daily nutrients. It is important that we do not deprive our bodies at any case. So next time you look at the clock and are feeling the urge to eat or to avoid eating ask yourself: Am I going by what the clock says or am I going by what my body says?
Questions for you:
Do you eat by the clock or eat when you are truly hungry?