This is a preview of a guest post that I wrote for All The Healthy Things! Scroll down to read the full post.
Tired? Can’t lose weight? Maybe you’re not eating enough!
In the Standard American Diet of calorie-dense, over-stimulating, processed foods, it is really easy to over-eat.
But when we enter the “healthy eating” world, things get trickier. If you aren’t careful, you may find yourself struggling with the opposite problem! Why does this happen?
Well, under-eating is sometimes done with purpose: a restrictive attitude around food (even healthy food) may be at play. But often, it’s accidental: maybe you’re eating a lot of fiber-rich plant foods that fill your stomach without delivering very many calories (like salads and smoothies). Or maybe you’re just SO BUSY that an afternoon flies by and you forget to eat lunch.
Yes, many people find it incredibly easy to under-eat. I’m one of them. Before I started paying attention to nutrient density and calorie consumption, this is what a typical day would look like:
Breakfast: 2 eggs cooked in butter or olive oil + 1 apple – about 350 calories
Lunch: A couple of leftover salmon cakes on spinach salad, some fruit – about 530 calories
Snack: Lara bar, nuts, or jerky because of hunger (hmm, I wonder why!) – about 100-200 calories
Dinner: Chicken thighs, kale, and sweet potato with coconut oil – about 650 calories
All together, that’s a little over 1600 calories.
1600 calories may not be on the level of extreme dieting, but my caloric needs are about 2300 calories. That means on an average day, I had a deficit of around 700 calories or more. That adds up to a deficit of almost 5,000 calories a week! No wonder I was tired and suffering from hormonal imbalance!
The thing is, I wasn’t under-eating on purpose. I just really liked the idea of mindful eating, and I knew that people in the “paleo sphere” are often encouraged to avoid counting calories and focus more on nutrient density. Though I do agree that this is usually the best option, I think calorie counting is appropriate when you’re worried about eating too little and need to check in with yourself.
This is especially important if you tend to be a meal-skipper. It’s no use adding in extra exercise or taking 10 different supplements for your low energy levels if you aren’t even eating enough food.
These are just THREE of the issues that can occur as a result of under-eating – notice how all of them could take you down a rabbit hole of treating symptoms (“I need to balance my cortisol with herbs!” “I need to exercise more to lose 10 pounds!”) when the answer may be to simply start eating enough.