Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How does the distribution of your food intake compare?

... To your energy output?

This one is simple, but it's where most North Americans trip up, and I mean REALLY trip up.

Here's a simple, but popular example:

Often when I see a client for weight management support, they'll come in stating that they've tried every diet in the book. And I believe them. It makes sense that you would try to problem-solve on your own using books, online tools, etc. before physically entering an office and discussing your nutrition habits with a professional. Heck - I'd do the same thing! After all, nutrition is personal stuff!

So after I've heard about all the losses and gains over the years, I ask: "What was it about those diets that was so different from the way you normally eat?".

And the two most popular responses ?

1. I paid close attention to what I was eating (of course! You were eating differently than usual. That requires attention!)

2. I ate throughout the day, and didn't eat late at night.

It's the second response I want to focus on here. I think deep down, we all know that we eat to fuel ourselves. We eat so that we have energy to walk around, to think, to be physical. When do we do these things the most? During our waking hours (unless you sleep walk A LOT!). So doesn't it make sense that most of our calories/energy/food (however you want to describe it) should be eaten earlier on and throughout our period of wakefulness (daytime for many of us)? As opposed to an hour before bed, on the couch, watching overpriced cable or satellite TV?

I realize there's something comforting about sitting down with chips or ice cream and sharing some "quality" screen time with your spouse (or alone) late in the evening, but what good is it doing you?

Isn't it funny that we'll stay up a little too late at night doing this (and gaining really no benefit. Let's face it - we think it's down time, but it's not really), but come morning we barely have time to choke down a piece of toast and suck back some caffeine before "taking on the world"? Seems a little backwards when you stop and think about it.

So here's my advice: Take a look at when you're eating most of your calories/energy/food in the day. When are the "heavy" times (no pun intended), and where are the gaps? Does the food distribution make sense? Especially when you compare it to your periods of activity?

(Please note: This is not to suggest you should refrain from eating before bed altogether. If you're hungry, you're hungry. Just make your snack/meal match your hunger/energy needs appropriately.)

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