Why Eating Too Frequently Can Interfere with Food Freedom and Health
I have been obsessed with health and losing my last bit of stomach fat for about 15 years, but what I want most currently is food freedom. Food freedom is the freedom to eat without feeling guilty, but to also not be controlled by food. One of the first things that I learned about losing weight was that you needed to consume smaller meals that were spread throughout the day.
As a kid, I remember reading that Elizabeth Hurley ate every three hours, and so, I tried to do the same. The problem was that it would often end up being every two hours, every hour, or every ten minutes.
The first thing that sucks about having smaller meals throughout the day is that I am not programmed for small meals. When I eat, I want to eat a lot. I never felt satisfied when eating small meals, and would often end up turning them into big meals anyway and end up having five big meals a day.
Below, I am going to elaborate on how meal frequency influences your health and food freedom.
I have been trying to kick my binge eating and overeating habits since I was a kid, and so far, nothing has really worked, and I have never quite felt food freedom. Even though I follow a diet that is free of processed foods and low in sugar, my problem is not what I am eating, it is just how much, which is why I do not feel like I have freedom from food.
By going down to two meals a day, which is my current health goal and food freedom experiment, I can eat more at each meal and satisfy my desire to eat a lot at once. If I cannot control how much I eat at every meal, then I can at least control how often I eat and possibly find food freedom in the process. Meals without volume restrictions, for me, sounds like food freedom.
Then, if you do eat something that is unhealthy and that is high in sugar, at least you know that you have long spaces between your meals in which your body can use the glucose, and that your insulin levels will at least not remain elevated throughout the whole day. Reducing meal frequency can reduce the impact of your impulses and reduce guilt, which is important for food freedom and mental health.
Every time you eat, your insulin levels go up. When I just went down from five meals to three meals a day, I started losing weight. And when I reduced my meal frequency to two meals, it started coming off even more.
That is because when insulin levels are elevated, in most people, weight loss will not be possible, and you have to wait for your insulin levels to go down in order for your body to burn fat. Eating frequently throughout the day will make sure that your insulin levels are elevated throughout, and you will not be able to lose as much weight, or you will not be able to lose weight at all.
For many people, weight loss is crucial to their health. I have a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). One of the main causes of PCOS symptoms is elevated insulin levels, which is why I was intrigued by reducing my meal frequency in the first place, as managing my insulin levels is crucial to my personal health.
Losing weight itself can also help improve PCOS symptoms.
Eating too frequently also prevents your body from going into autophagy. If you have read any of my previous posts, you have probably seen us mention autophagy. It is the body’s natural cell clean up and cell recycling process. It is triggered when your body runs out of available fuel, and when that happens, your body gets a chance to eat and remove damaged or senescent cells that can contribute to inflammation, lead to cancer, and speed up ageing.
That is one of the reasons why intermittent fasting has become so popular over the last few years, and one of the main reasons why I am doing it myself. Although, what I am doing is better described as time-restricted eating, as intermittent fasting is where you have an eight-hour eating window and fast for 16 hours or more per day. Time-restricted eating is where you fast for at least twelve hours per day. I fast for 13 to 14 hours a day, and have a ten to eleven-hour eating window on average.
When making this change, I started seeing the biggest changes in my health, and it became even better when I paired the reduced meal frequency within my time-restricted eating window.
Reducing your meal frequency is not easy, especially if you are a food addict like me or if you have been a snacker all your life. My suggestion is to reduce the number of times you eat in a day gradually. If you usually eat seven times a day, then you can reduce it to six meals a day, and when that becomes easy, go down to five. When you reach three, you can go down to two meals a day or even one if you want to, but that is not compulsory. In fact, nothing is.
I am building up to two meals a day, so if there is a day where I do struggle and have a snack, that is completely okay. Some people can say to themselves something like “I want to only eat two meals from now on to improve my health”, and then, they can manage to do so immediately.
I am more like the average Joe, which is funny because Joe is my nickname, and I tend to mess up a lot when trying to change a habit. It might take me seven months to be able to stick to it fully and to make eating two meals a day a natural thing for me, but until then, I am allowed to mess up.
Regardless of your health goal, you are allowed to mess up too. Stressing too much about your health habits is also bad for your health. You will also not have food freedom. I am trying to train myself to not feel guilty when indulging. It is part of my personal journey to health and food freedom.