It’s interesting — around 50 years ago there was a general understanding that snacking wasn’t good for us and if you were snacking all the time it would ruin your appetite for your next meal. It was also believed that snacking all day made you gain weight; 50 years ago we didn’t have a national problem with obesity.
Of course a lot has changed. We are eating more sugar and processed foods than we did back then, but we are also told that we need to be eating right away in the morning and every 2-3 hours after that. We are told that we need to be eating at least 6 times a day to “keep our metabolism up.” We are told we can’t ever skip a meal because if we do we will go into “starvation mode” – I mean, really? We think we are going into starvation mode because we haven’t eaten for a couple hours? Probably not.
Eating every 2-3 hours does something metabolically in our body, it increases our insulin levels. When our insulin levels are elevated over a period of time we start to develop insulin resistance. Insulin resistance creates an inability for your body to burn body fat effectively. It’s basically like a lock on your metabolism. But maybe we don’t know any better so we keep snacking, keep eating, never taking a break – eating late night snacks, waking up eating right away in the morning. We keep those habits going for years because we think it’s what we are supposed to do, all the while we could be building up insulin resistance.
If you can’t go more than a couple hours without eating it’s likely because of one of 2 things
- You are insulin resistant and have blood sugar issues that are driving your hunger
- You aren’t eating enough at your meals – either enough food or actually enough fats or proteins to balance your blood sugars and create satiety. A little low fat yogurt and popcorn at lunch isn’t enough to fuel you, you’ll crash mid-afternoon and need a pick-me-up. Egg whites and some steamed veggies for a meal? No wonder people are hungry 2 hours later.
My general recommendations for you right now would be
- Stop snacking – stop eating all the time. It’s ok to go a few hours.
- Eat more at your meals so you can go longer stretches without eating
- Reduce all your sugar and junky processed carbs like chips, cereals and desserts because those are actually causing some of this insulin resistance and desire to snack
- Consider implementing intermittent fasting. If you missed my discussion on intermittent fasting, sign up for my e-mail list here and I’ll send you my thoughts.
If this sounds interesting to you and you’d like to learn more about nutritional concepts and methods to help you break down some of this insulin resistance and help your body start releasing body fat, sign-up for my 7 week online nutrition program that launches on January 8th. Read more about it here.
—Katie Vigesaa, RD