What’s Your Eating Style?
Have you had a friend try to convince you that you absolutely needed to try the latest diet fad that worked for them (fill in the blank with juice cleanse, intermittent fasting, paleo, keto, or whatever else is trending these days)? Thankfully, the nutrition world is embracing the reality that there really is no one-size-fits-all approach, and everyone’s body has its own unique needs and preferences. Many people feel trapped in an eating style that doesn’t feel natural, so in this article we’ll explore an empowering concept that can be described as “intuitive eating.” In other words: learn your body’s natural eating style and how to respect it.
Three Eating Styles: The Meal Timing Connection
Finding your eating style largely comes down to meal timing and what feels right for you, not to mention logistically what fits into your day. If you’ve assumed that you must have three meals per day or that six smaller meals are better, think again! Everybody is biochemically diverse, so tuning in and listening to your body’s cues is key.
1. The Breakfast Skipper
We’ve all heard since childhood that breakfast is hands-down the most important meal of the day, but studies show us that for some, this might not be the case. The idea that breakfast is needed to rev the metabolism is also somewhat outdated; in fact, some people naturally feel hungrier all day long if they’ve eaten breakfast.
Those who prefer to skip breakfast might want to consider intermittent fasting, a practice that separates your day into eating and fasting “windows” and has been shown to provide some metabolic benefits. The gentle 16:8 method means you fast overnight and skip breakfast, then break your fast with lunch. So you might have your last meal or snack at 8pm, then don’t eat again until the next day at noon (though definitely continue to drink water). You can have a Sweet Defeat at night after dinner to stop yourself from eating mindlessly, and if you feel a need to have something in the morning, even though you’re not hungry, use a Sweet Defeat as a palate refresh. The point is that if skipping breakfast feels great, go for it!
And rest assured there are also some impressive benefits to working out in a fasted state, so you can experiment with exercise before eating, too. If skipping breakfast feels too stressful for your body, then this style probably isn’t yours. Remember, it’s all about listening to your body.
2. Three Square Meals a Day
Another foundational nutrition principle has always been that you need three square meals a day. And for some, this is certainly true! This eating style works for those who feel their best when they have three meals a day and no snacks in between. For these people, snacking doesn’t impact the amount ingested at the next meal, so it’s not necessary.
Unsure as to whether or not you fit into this category? Think of a time you were on vacation or literally out and about all day, so you naturally ate three meals without snacking. A lot of people return from vacations like this pleasantly surprised that they either lost or maintained their weight. This might have to do with the hormone insulin. You can think of the in-between meal times as mini fasts, which give your insulin levels a chance to lower between meals, something that’s important for overall health and weight management. If you’re still not convinced, give it a try to see if it’s your natural eating style. Have low-sugar meals that are full of protein and healthy fats, and if this eating style is for you, you’ll find you aren’t hungry again until it’s time for the next meal. If you sometimes want a snack and recognize that you’re just bored, not hungry, have a Sweet Defeat instead.
3. Qualified Snacker
If you aren’t a three-square-meals-a-day kind of person, you might just be a qualified snacker. In other words, your body responds best to being fed every two to three hours and functions optimally on this schedule.
Eating every few hours can be a great strategy for regulating blood sugar, which is important to avoid cravings and overeating. If this sounds like you, aim to have smaller meals and keep healthy snacks on you so that you can eat when your body tells you it’s hungry. Sometimes a constant need to eat is a sign of blood sugar dysregulation, so try increasing your servings of protein, healthy fats, and fiber-rich veggies at meal times to keep yourself satiated for longer and your blood sugar balanced.
If you’re a qualified snacker, but find that you tend to eat too large a snack, pre-portion it out and when you’re done, have a Sweet Defeat to help you stop eating more than you should.
Choosing an Eating Style
So, what’s your eating style? Remember, there is no right or wrong answer to this question, it’s all about checking in with your body and observing and respecting your natural patterns for optimal health, well-being, and happiness.