Back in my disordered days, I would only eat when it was “time to eat”. You know… Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. If I was lucky there would be some snacks thrown in there too… But only if it was at least 3/4 hours after eating because, you know you aren’t allowed to eat one hour after breakfast if you are hungry because it is “not time to eat”. Right?
Oh little Lauren and many other people out there who restrict themselves to eating only when “it is time to eat”.
If you are hungry, then eat! It doesn’t matter if you only ate breakfast two hours ago and you are already ready for a snack. It does not matter if you are ready for your lunch at 11am. You do not have to wait until the 12-1pm window to eat your lunch.
Please honour your hunger as it arises. If you don’t honour your hunger then you can become ravenous and then overeat at the next meal. This is still ok and nothing to feel guilty about, but it may make you feel uncomfortable in the long run and we want to feel well and comfortable in our bodies after we have eaten and not stuffed and uncomfortable.
And DO NOT judge your hunger. As the amazing writers of Intuitive Eating say… “The ebb and flow of your hunger might not match other people’s- thats okay, it’s individual””. I think many of us can almost be embarrassed of how much we eat and honouring our hunger (oh hello diet culture), especially women. I can truly empathise with this as I used to be ashamed by how much I ate. Now that I am healed though, I recognise there is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about in satisfying a biological need. I am not embarrassed about breathing, so why should I be embarrassed about honouring my hunger signals? You are not morally superior or better if you have a lower appetite. You are not less worthy if you happen to eat more than the average Joe. If anyone shames you for honouring your hunger it is because they are either disordered themselves, or they are unconsciously affected and wrapped up in the diet culture that we have all been swept up into at one point.
An example yesterday, which drove me to want to write about this was when I had my breakfast at 10am. I usually eat breakfast much earlier but I happened to lie in (hello moving back from Australia a few weeks ago and still not in a routine…). There I was two hours later at 12pm and I was hungry. Old Lauren would have ignored it and waited until it had been at least 3 hours from breakfast. Healed Lauren ate a sandwich. Three hours later, I was hungry again, so I ate another sandwich. Two hours later, I was hungry so I ate a snack. See where I am going here? It is totally and more than ok to honour your hunger even if your mind tells you it is not the “right time”. In fact, its bloody brilliant because it means you can get out and live your life and make the most of your day without being a slave to food worry and anxiety.
So to wrap up…
It is totally and more than ok to eat a snack an hour or two after breakfast if you are hungry.
It is more than ok to eat your lunch earlier than 12pm.
It is perfectly ok to eat a large helping of dinner because that is how much you need to satisfy you mentally, physically and emotionally.
And it is also more than ok to eat sometimes even if you are not truly “biologically hungry”. Maybe you just ate your lunch but your Grandma made a cheeky victoria sponge she would love you to try. Perhaps you fancy a piece of chocolate after dinner. It is more than ok to eat when you aren’t just biologically hungry. Food is more than just fuel. It is a way for us to connect socially and a way for us to have fun too. That is why fun foods are really important too.
Honour your body physically, mentally and emotionally. Make peace with food.
Have you ever felt like you couldn’t honour your hunger because it “wasn’t time to eat”?
(Just to note, if you are in recovery for an eating disorder, your eating/hunger signals are likely not to be accurate. Always follow your professional treatment advice.)