Being ravenously hungry all the time can be wearing. You’ve got to spend so much time eating. A two-hour trip away from home means packing all kinds of snacks. When bed time rolls around and you’re drowsily brushing your teeth, BAM! Hunger pangs again.
But my insatiable, all-consuming hunger – the one for food – has been on leave. I noticed this by looking down at my 500-calorie breakfast and realizing (with amazement) that I couldn’t finish it as usual. And after what most would consider an active day – a hard training session in the gym and then lots of walking downtown – I didn’t need to eat constantly, as I typically would.
It makes perfect sense, however. I left my personal training job two weeks ago where I continuously demonstrated exercises (usually without weights), squatted up and down to watch clients, and walked up and down stairs. Hell, talked. And stood. And moved.
In the last two weeks I’ve been doing more computer work. Sure, I’m still training hard four times a week and I’m not nearly as sedentary as some. But my body notices this difference in activity level and just doesn’t need as much fuel.
For me, food is simply fuel.
But wait – food is integral in celebrating our humanness. It’s a huge part of special occasions and holidays and brings families, friends, and strangers together. We learn how to relate to each other over food. We tell stories over food, we gather over food. Plus come on – we love tasting, experimenting with, and cooking food. Food is much more than fuel and we know it.
How we get tangled up in a “relationship” with food is a different matter. You know, that “I-need-to-eat-because-I’m-bored” relationship. Or the one in which food is your steadfast friend during TV watching, computing, or reading. Or when it comforts you during those times when you’d rather not feel.
Lifestyle Changes Mean Eating Changes
Our bodies are amazing self-regulating machines – they don’t need to be “detoxed” or given specific times to eat. When you eat when you’re hungry and don’t eat when you’re not, you’re helping your body do what it does – regulate itself. There are two situations when you want to get methodical about tracking your calories: when you want to lose weight or gain weight for muscle. Otherwise, your body is the manager – it tells you exactly when to eat and balks when you don’t give it fuel that makes it run well.
When you realize that on a biochemical level, food is simply fuel, the whole weight-maintenance thing is pretty darn easy. But since we’re creatures of habit, we need to re-evaluate our eating patterns when we have a lifestyle change, like these:
- Bad weather
- An injury or illness
- Working more
- Working less
- Less income
- More income
- Sick relative
- Pregnancy or new baby
- Divorce or breakup
- New relationship or marriage
- Insert life event here…
How often do we have lifestyle changes without changing our eating habits? If you’ve become more sedentary recently, have you also started eating less?
This is an important question to ask yourself because mindless eating – and using food as a relationship – is one of the most popular American past times. For myself, I’m putting less yogurt and cereal in my bowls at breakfast time now. And during day, I’m listening to my hunger to determine when to eat.
Your body is the boss… let it do its job.
This article originally appeared on www.workoutnirvana.com.