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Does undereating lead to overeating?

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

At first glance, that may sound really silly but I'm telling you that I see it ALL THE TIME. We are so hung up on achieving perfection with our health habits that we often come up with these routines that are only attainable for a short period of time before we just can't do it anymore.

We are so stuck on these ridiculously low calorie goals (a toddler needs more than 1200 calories per day) that we end up starving and feeling out of control which usually leads to overeating. It feels so much BETTER to have a more even energy level throughout the day than it does to go from starving and hangry to overly full and miserable.

So what can we do to avoid this?

1) Eat 3 meals/day. The largest systematic review to date on intermittent fasting has shown no advantage vs daily caloric restriction for cardiovascular health, inflammation, appetite, energy intake, body weight and body fat in the long term.

2) Have snacks if you're hungry for them. You don't HAVE to include them but if you're hungry and you have a few hours until your next meal and you're thinking about waiting...just don't. What's going to happen is instead of having a snack to hold you over, you're going to go into your next meal ravenous and will be a lot more likely to over eat

3)Satisfaction is important! If you eat the bare minimum all day or you eat foods that are incredibly "healthy" and "low fat", etc... you may feel physically full but not satisfied. When we aren't satisfied, we are on the hunt for the next thing that will make us happy. Think about a time when you made a new recipe and it didn't turn out how you expected (been there!). You probably ate it anyways because it was dinner time and you didn't want to waste money. You likely felt full from that meal but-- because it wasn't satisfying-- you were likely thinking about what you were going to eat next. Incorporating a cookie with lunch doesn't make you a failure. Putting dressing on your salad doesn't mean you messed up your whole day. Food should be enjoyed

If you are active, eating enough is even more important! You can not perform at your best on an empty tank. Before you start thinking about timing of nutrients, supplements, macros, etc... make sure that you are getting ENOUGH

Kayla Fitzgerald is a Registered Dietitian & Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor located in Charleston, South Carolina. She works with clients 1:1, through small group coaching, and self guided programs. Her goal is to help you fuel your body for whatever the day has in store whether it's a 100 mile race or getting through the work day.


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