When I was growing up in the 50s, we sat down and ate three meals every day. My Mom always made breakfast for the family. It would vary from hot porridge to dropped egg on toast to cereal and banana.
I didn’t realize at the time what a gift that was, along with the predictable lunch at mid-day and dinner around 6 pm. That schedule flipped a bit on the weekends, when we had our Sunday dinner in the middle of the day. But what was always a given was that we had three meals every day.
What's Your Eating Style Today? Is It Grab & Go?
Fast forward to today. What is your eating lifestyle like? Unless you’ve stayed attentive to the routines of your youth, your eating habits may be quite different. If they are, and you have gained unwanted pounds, the key to reversing weight gain may require you to return to your body’s early metabolic memory. If your metabolic memory is like mine, it will do best with a return to eating meals and not snacking.
Here’s how letting go of the grab and go can help with losing weight after 50.
How the Grab & Go Culture Impacts Weight
Our metabolic bodies evolve slowly. If your body first became accustomed to regular meals, and you try to change that to snacking, it may not feel quite right. Additionally, many snacks or lacking in nutrients so you may feel like you’re never quite satisfied. When that happens, it’s natural to seek out more of what feels missing and eventually overeat.
It’s hard to go anywhere today and not have access to food. The office and shopping malls have their vending machines, food courts and break rooms. Kitchen cabinets may have a ready supply of grab and go snacks. Waiting rooms and lobbies in hospitals, airports, subway stations and gas stations put food at your fingertips.
The problem with these food choices is that most of them offer only a few hundred calories and little or no nutrient value. When you get calories without nutrients your brain will go looking for more food. Your body’s natural intelligence knows you need nutrients to be well, and if the food you are eating lacks those nutrients, your brain will turn on hunger signals.
Before the day is over, you may well have consumed many more calories than you intended, but don’t feel that way because you haven’t had the experience of sitting down and eating a meal. So the grab and go habit can be a real factor in weight gain.
No Time for Meal Prep? It’s All About Strategy
You may be thinking you don’t have enough time to make three meals every day. Life is busy, you’re not home in the middle of the day, etc. But think for a moment about your priorities. Is one of them to shed some pounds?
If so, you might feel motivated to get back to eating meals by thinking about why you want to shed those pounds. To look better? To have more energy? To lessen pressure on your joints? To lower your risk for illness? Having a reason or a benefit of weight loss always helps.
Think about how you can get into the habit of eating nutrient rich meals instead of snacking or grazing through the day. Breakfast should be easy. If you get stuck on this meal, check out 12 breakfast samples on my blog, some of which are portable.
Lunch can be easily managed by using leftovers from your previous night’s dinner. And don’t forget to hydrate. Water, herbal teas and sparkling water with a splash of citrus or berries in between meals can be quite refreshing.
You may be someone who wants to eat meals just twice each day. If so, make sure you eat a nutrient rich breakfast and aim to eat your combined lunch/dinner in late afternoon. It’s best not to wait too long because you may get so hungry you overeat at the end of the day.
More Benefits of Eating Meals Instead of Snacking
In addition to better weight management, here are just a few of the other benefits of eating meals instead of grazing:
- better blood sugar regulation
- higher nutrient value
- more opportunity for social connection around eating when you sit down for a meal
- a period of rest at predictable times each day
- more focus on your day’s activities instead of being distracted by food/hunger
- a sense that you have actually eaten that can be missing when unconsciously ‘grazing.’
What is your eating style? Do you think eliminating snacking might be a good solution for weight loss? What do you think are the keys to losing weight after 50? Please share your experiences and join the conversation.