Grazed and confused
Grazing is picking at food little by little so that you’re continually eating as opposed to eating only at mealtimes. Have you grazed and been confused for so long it’s not true? Alright, I admit it, it may be punny but it’s not very funny. The point I’m trying to make is that grazing on food can be confusing and here’s why.
50 shades of graze
When you graze, there are many questions you can ask yourself. For instance, are you eating because you’re actually hungry? Or because it’s expected? Because others insist that you do? Because there’s nothing else to do? Because it’s a holiday and there’s free food about? Or because you’ve been good all week so you feel like you can afford to “cheat?” These are just some of the reasons why people graze.
If you’re eating throughout the day, then discerning if you’re eating because you’re actually hungry can be difficult. You may not be able to tell why you’re eating and may continue eating simply because you’re eating. This can obviously work against you if you’re trying to lose weight. While I think calories in/calories out is highly oversimplified, it will matter if you overdo it.
Not so graze
For most people, eating meals at set times of the day is ideal. You get accustomed to how much food you need, you can plan around it, and there aren’t as many unknowns. In fact, there can be a fine line between grazing and disordered eating. Grazing tends to be prevalent in obesity and eating disorders, with some evidence showing that it’s associated with difficulty losing weight. Evidence also suggests that it could lead to binge eating as well since it is a similar behavior. Other disadvantages of grazing include: increased risk for the development of bacterial overgrowth, it may not be ideal for those prone to constipation, and it could negatively impact sleep if you graze too late at night.
So is grazing always an unhealthy behavior that should be avoided at all costs? Like most questions posed in nutrition, the short answer is “it depends.” Grazing can actually help to stabilize insulin levels in addition to decreasing indigestion, heartburn, etc. You might also be less likely to overeat if you’re not going more than a few hours between eating something. Additionally, some studies have shown that snacking is beneficial for weight loss. Grazing should always be done mindfully. Otherwise, it can become like the popular “see food diet.”
If you graze, then what are you grazing on? Cookies or vegetables? This is where food quality comes into play. Ideal foods to graze on are whole foods and not processed foods. These foods should ideally be fresh, organic, and able to be eaten in small quantities. A simple rule of thumb is to eat twice as often as you normally would, but eating half as much each time so that you’re ingesting the same amount of food each day. Otherwise, grazing becomes a way of taking in many more calories than you would have had you not grazed.
Given that most things aren’t simply black or white, different approaches may work for different people. If you’re unconscious about what you’re putting into your body, then having less contact points with food throughout the day is probably best. However, if you have more awareness around your eating habits and find that you feel better while grazing, then that approach might be more suited to you.
Since everyone is different, has grazing worked better for you or do you do better with a set amount of meals and/or consistent meal times?
Jack Grabon, MSACN, NBC-HWC, LCSW-R, CPC helps people overcome emotional eating to increase their energy, stamina, and improve their self-confidence, so they can lose weight and keep it off for good! He is a holistic nutritionist, health coach, psychotherapist and life coach all rolled up into one 😉 Book a free intuitive weight loss strategy session to see how he can help you today!
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.