Saturday, November 10, 2012
Did anyone else's mother say that to them when they were growing up? I thought of this the other day as I was watching an old TV sitcom. I wondered, do mothers even say that anymore? I rarely do.
When I was in elementary school, I don't remember bringing a snack to school, ever. Eating breakfast, lunch, an after-school snack and dinner was enough, and my after-school snack was something small. This does not seem to be the eating pattern anymore.
We've been told in the last few years by some health & fitness experts that eating six small meals a day is better than three large ones. I've read articles about how it keeps your metabolism up, keeps you from ever feeling hungry, and therefore makes you less likely to overeat.
However, I've also read articles to the contrary, saying that it's better to listen to your body's cues and only eat when hungry. This would seem to correspond to eating patterns of the past. There certainly is a difference in the weight of people of today (who eat more often) and people of yesteryear (don't spoil your dinner).
I suppose if you keep good track of calories in/ calories out and the nutritional value of what you're consuming, it probably doesn't matter if you ate 3 meals or spread it out over the course of a day. When I was keeping track of everything I ate and how much I exercised, I was in the best shape of my life.
However, once I stopped tracking, the weight came back. I'm not fat at all, but I long for the days when I was in such great running shape. Yet, I confess, I don't like spending time tracking. I just don't want to do it. I really think my "6 small meals" - more accurately labeled "untracked snacking" is what's doing me in.
I wonder if our mothers and grandmothers were onto something. They knew our bodies weren't going to fall apart by waiting until the next meal to eat. Since 66% of Americans are overweight or obese, it is reasonable to assume that most people are not keeping track of what they eat in a day. Portion size and ingredients in our food need to be addressed, but perhaps also the eating pattern of the past is worth another look.