To breakfast or not?

I don’t like to eat first thing in the morning, especially if I ate late or a big meal the night before.  This is a bit of a dilemma for me, because I know breakfast eating is a successful tactic for most weight losers.  I also know that after a 25 minute bike ride up the hill, and a 10 minute walk after my shuttle ride, my metabolism will have kicked into gear, and I am often hungry by 9 am.  But again, sometimes I’m not.  If I try to force myself to eat, it tastes really bad, and I feel silly, as someone trying to diet, to force myself to eat when I’m not hungry.  If I’m going on a 5 hour hike, forcing the eating is a good idea, but what if I’m just going to sit on my butt?  Maybe a banana will hold me until lunch, or these 140 calorie healthy bars that we keep at work.   Or not.  My appetite is not predictable.

I struggle with these issues, because I’m trying to eat with my hunger, but it’s not always convenient.  A few years ago, a boyfriend told me that it’s okay to be hungry occasionally, and good for weight losers, because you can just eat a “fat snack” (he said, squeezing his tummy).  Obviously, in his mind, his way was right, since he had never had a weight problem, he knew what he was talking about.  I got very pissed at him, I really hate when guys who have never had a weight problem think it’s because they’re doing everything right and thus know all the answers, rather than just being lucky, but later thinking about it, maybe it is okay to get hungry occasionally, and eat sporadically.

So now, instead of rigidly planning meals and times to eat, if it’s convenient, I wait until I’m hungry, and see what I’m hungry for.  Sometimes, if the scale isn’t budging, I push it a bit.  If I only have 20 minutes to make and eat dinner if I want to get to the gym, dinner may be some cottage cheese with a side of steamed collards.  A burrito would be yummier and easier, but won’t lead to weight loss.  When life is hectic, sometimes meals get pared down.  This is especially true when I’ve been eating work food, or heavy food-if I can’t eat healthy meals, I’ll eat smaller ones, or less of them.  I have to do what I can in this life, and I’m not independently wealthy enough to have the leisure to have 100% control over my diet.  I do the best I can do, and if that means that meals become snacks, or occasionally get skipped, so be it.

This seems to be more in line of what “normal” people, not dieting, without weight issues, do.  I don’t think they fret about the macronutrient balance of everything they eat, or set a fixed schedule (or not single ones with erratic schedules, anyway-once you have to feed your family, things change), or eat a certain amount, hungry or not.  This, to me, seems like true intuitive eating-the freedom to not bother if I don’t feel like it


8 Responses to “To breakfast or not?”

  1. January 30, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    I always try to eat breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day after all. I usually try to not let myself get hungry by eating many small meals a day. When I get too hungry I tend to eat more than I should.

  2. January 30, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Great Post. This post has given me a lot to think about as well..


  3. January 31, 2009 at 12:09 am

    It is kind of a dilemma for me too. Especially when I am focused on not only weight loss but working on my eating disorder behavior. I struggle with lunch (not breakfast or dinner) and find myself going ten hours without eating. I might be a bit hungry but it is so marginal I don’t feel the need to eat. I know that we all have to tailor our bodies to what is best for us but I know in my case that ED stuff sometimes clouds my judgement. I congratulate your for posting about it and trying to work it out…

  4. February 1, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Yeah, I know the “breakfast-important” stuff, but I’m just not sure that it’s intuitive eating for me to eat when I very much don’t feel like eating. I only mean mildly hungry, if I’m starving to the point of wondering how my bad my shoelaces might taste, I may make bad decisions in the name of expediency, but this is rare. A little hungry is okay, I think when my blood sugar was more erratic it might not have been.

    I think I’m slightly more focused on ending my eating disordered behavior than I am on the weight loss. I mean, weight loss is the prize, ending ED behavior is the journey/training. Or something like that. I need to think more about this, too.

  5. 5 randomquorum
    February 1, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    Hey Julie, thanks for commenting over at my blog!

    Other people I’ve asked have suggested to me that if I don’t feel like eating breakfast and eating it or not has no effect on how I feel, then I shouldn’t eat it if I don’t want to. I make sure I have something that I can eat if I’m hungry, and I often want something small by 9-10am. I worry/feel bad about the food I waste by doing this though – I can sometimes bring fruit to work and have it sit in the fridge all week only to get thrown out when it goes off.

    I don’t have the luxury of eating not much for dinner, since I cook for my husband and myself and part of my problems with food are tied up with that relationship (as you mentioned with your ex).

    For myself, I have to conciously make sure not to “limit” foods, because although my brain tells me logically I should, if I try to it makes my eating worse. If I can truly make it ok to eat anything I want, then I usually don’t want the bad stuff anyway. The only thing I’m still struggling with in this is chocolate, but I do appear to be getting better. I’m still hiding my chocolate-consumption from the husband though, which tells me that I’m not there yet!

    Ok that was longer than planned – sorry about that! LOL

    It’s tough, and for me any attempts to conciously lose weight at this point will probably only make things worse – after all, dieting got me where I am today! At least having given it up, I’m happy (and fat) rather than unhappy (and still fat) as I was when trying to diet!

  6. February 2, 2009 at 5:15 am

    I’m a lot more hungry in the mornings these days so it’s not an issue for me anymore. It’s a difficult-ish issue though. I mean, I see how forcing yourself to eat when you’re not hungry (or actively *not* wanting food as was the case with me in the mornings) is just as bad as eating way past the point of fullness in terms of getting in touch with your real hunger. OTOH, eating breakfast is good from a health and a weight-loss perspective. For me, I found that a healthier lifestyle and getting up a bit earlier than usual (like half an hour) seemed to help make me hungry in the morning – it’s not going to work for everyone though.

    One thing to do could be to put together some kind of ‘trail mix.’ Like I make one with roasted almonds, walnuts, kashi cereal, and maybe some dried fruit. You could put it in a little baggie and just have it on hand or you could just eat little bits of it throughout the morning. That way you’re getting some fat, protein, carbs and fiber without having to force down a huge breakfast.

    To be honest, if no breakfast is working for you, it doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but it might be good to try eating more in the mornings to see if it helps break you through plateaus. Common wisdom (which is my way of saying it might be total b.s.) says that not eating breakfast can also slow down your metabolism. Which makes sense since not eating for extended periods of time will do that and between sleep and lunch, you might not eat for 10+ hours.

  7. February 3, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Attrice, this is good advice. If I’m indifferent, I’ll try to eat something, otherwise I just eat something at work. They have some trail mix bars, or used to, that are ok. They also have “GORP”, but I don’t like raisins, so it’s just peanuts and m&ms. I’ll figure this out eventually, likely.

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