I have fought my love of food all my life. I just like food. But I also like my health, my mobility and my independence from a health system that can’t be relied upon. Equally, a snacking habit has no place in a cost of living crisis. Therefore most days are spent battling my urge to eat in order to not put on weight and keep budgets in check (the latter of which seems to be much easier than the former).
I go through phases when it’s more difficult than others, mostly seasonal, but for some reason since this winter I’ve struggled to get back on track. In winter, I always lose a bit of control, but it’s now summer and things aren’t easing up.
Last month I wrote about how my sense of control over my diet had gone a bit wayward. I’m still not winning, so I am trying to look at this from a different perspective entirely and seeing if I can work with it, and not against it. Fighting it and worrying about it is making it worse. I read recently that food insecurity can create an eating anxiety and I am sure that as a frugal shopper now shopping only for yellow stickers and discount products in the midst of a price rise economy, I am making it worse without even being aware of it:
‘….it could be food insecurity — a lack of consistent access to groceries. Food insecurity has caused an estimated 42 million people in the United States to have anxiety over their next meal.’
Equally some people are just born grazers and not designed for three square meals a day. This has been me all my life. So, I am making a plan. Instead of fighting a losing battle and making the problem worse I am doing it with intention. I am going to work with the habit and my desire to eat little and often, rather than thinking I can only eat full meals and fixating on the gaps in-between. However, I am still going to stick to intermittent fasting, so my grazing window will still only be 7 hours and will still involve the same calories I would normally eat within that window.
The truth seems to be that it’s not about how often you eat. It’s about the totality of what you eat. As in all things, it’s about calories in versus calories out. You see, snacking/grazing isn’t in itself inherently bad. There are studies that suggest it’s better for your health over all. It’s what you eat that matters, and how much of it versus the exercise you do to burn it off.
My problem isn’t that I am hungry, it’s that food is a thing I do, and no amount of structured meal times or protein dense meals to keep me ‘fuller for longer’ is going to change that. Those tactics only add to the calorie pile. So for instance, instead of eating ‘normal’ meals and fighting (and failing) to beat the urge to eat in between them, instead I am going to cook my normal meals, divide each one up into two or three portions and then consume them in several sections over a longer period of time, thus consuming the same number of calories but in a different way and allowing me to graze without adding to my food intake and feeling bad about it.
I’ve come to this conclusion, and I am implementing this plan, because I need things to work with my lifestyle, not against it. I don’t have other people to consider in my home. I work from home, meaning that the fridge is always in reach and I run my own business which doesn’t have deadlines or other work pressures to keep me occupied or out of the house for long periods, so my schedule is never a barrier to my eating habits. I am going to give this a go for a month or so and see if it works. The early signs are good. I don’t see any particular reason why it won’t work in my favour.
Do you have similar challenges working from home, perhaps since the pandemic, or maybe something you’ve learned to live with as a home worker over a longer period of time? Has 2020 and beyond been triggering for you? Have healthy habits gone out of the window and have you failed to get back on track and instead made a compromise? Let me know in the comments because I am keen to get other perspectives on this. Articles are all very well, but real people strategies are far more useful.