I’ve been very remiss this week in my posting. Sorry about that. I’ve been catching up on all the chores that I didn’t do when we were forced to flee our powerless home. I did enjoy all the outrage about Kardashian fame. Thank you. I’m glad there is sanity in the world.
Now that our house is powerful and mighty again, it’s time to CLEAN. I promise I’ll never take you for granted again house!
Here’s a funny phenomenon I noticed the other day — I don’t need as many snacks as I think I do. When I’m busy (really busy, doing something my whole attention is absorbed in), I find I can miss those mid-meal noshes.
Have I GAINED weight because my metabolism has slowed down? Am I retaining fat because I’ve gone longer than 3 hours without eating?
Actually, no. My skinny skinny jeans (these aren’t like super skinny jeans, they’re just a pair of skinny jeans that inexplicably fit tighter than a pair of skinny jeans in the exact same style but a different fabric. Old Navy, you are MADDENING!) fit very nicely without any overflow around the waist!
Research shows that the “snacks speed up your metabolism” thing is really a myth. I mean, yes, you will kick up your metabolism when you eat because your body has to use calories to burn the food, but if you’re eating 160 calories of almonds, you won’t be burning 160 calories to digest them. So even though your metabolism did go up slightly, your caloric intake more than compensated for the calorie expenditure.
Obviously, snacking can work with weight loss and maintenance as long as you have a caloric deficit (or break even, if you’re trying to maintain weight). And if you’re hungry, then snacking make sense. But prescribing food like it’s a weight loss drug just seems counter-intuitive, right? Cutting calories leads to weight loss, not adding in ones that you don’t really want or need!
It’s a great racket for diet books (on our plan you’ll be eating all the time! and you need to buy our plan so you know exactly the right balance of macronutrients to eat — you can’t just snack willy nilly! We have to TEACH you to eat!). The bar, powder and supplement companies make out pretty well, too (can’t make yourself 6 meals while you’re working? Our bars full of sugar make a great snack!) And since as humans we kinda like to eat anyway, we don’t argue too much. I gotta eat, you say? Well, okay, if you insist!
For those of us who have the “one more bite” syndrome, snacking can derail our weight loss efforts. Who here measures out their food and grabs one little nibble of cheese or nuts (or cookie) before they put the bag away?
Oh, just me? K.
I also find that when I’m on a snacking plan, I never get out of snack-mode. I’m always open for business. By business I mean eating. So I find myself grabbing little handfuls of this or that and sampling things when I’m not really hungry.
Now I know some people are saying, well, I eat 6 meals a day and I’ve lost weight so Elizabeth clearly you are a dolt. Well, possibly* I am a dolt, but if you’ve lost weight by eating 6 meals a day, you’ve lost weight because you’ve run a caloric deficit, not because you’re snacking. See the difference?
We lawyers like to show off our fancy Latin skills (because, really, what other contribution to the world do we make? Oh, Sarbanes-Oxley? Oh yeah, I forgot. You’re welcome.) But logicians even have a phrase for this type of logic — Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.
It means “after this, therefore, because of this.” In this case, it applies like this: “I lost weight after snacking, therefore, I lost weight BECAUSE of snacking.” See the danger? If snacking makes you lose weight, excuse me while I grab my keys and run to the store to stock up on peanut butter granola bars and cookies n’ cream ice cream.
Wait, what? That won’t work? Why? OH! Because it’s CALORIES that matter in weight loss, not feeding ourselves non-stop.
It’s instinctive when I put it that way, right? Look around you. Think of the extremes — people who have psychological conditions in which they deprive themselves of food or environmental situations where they live in famine. Are they very large because they deprive themselves of snacks?
No. Generally, they are dangerously thin.
Think of the other extreme — the people who munch all day. Are they, without fail, at healthy body weights? Sometimes, yes, they can be. But generally, the “eat all day” people are genetically blessed (or training for a marathon. Or 6 feet tall). If your observations belie the conventional wisdom of snacking, you have to start to question the “wisdom” of the convention.
I’m not telling you to ax the snacks — some people do better with 6 small meals a day for blood sugar purposes. I’m just reporting my own observations from the weight loss battle lines. I caught myself yesterday thinking “I need a snack.” And I realized — no I didn’t. I was stressed and had a lot of difficult work to do and I wanted a snack to distract me from that.
One of my favorite sayings is “If hunger is not the problem, food is not the solution.” And I think for many of us who have managed to get ourselves yoked to unfulfilling cubicle work, snacking is a welcome respite. Many people think that Americans are overweight because we eat too much fast food or we eat in our cars or in front of the tv.
I wonder if it’s because Americans work more hours than ever before. If it’s because we have fewer job opportunities than ever before. If we have more DEBT than ever before. If we have more technological gadgets that keep up plugged into career chaos, but we have less rest and relaxation. In other words, I’m wondering if we’re using snacks to escape from the pressures of modern life rather than allowing ourselves to be consumed by a life worth living?
What are your thoughts? I know I’ve asked before (somewhere) about your snacking vs. not snacking vs. only eating when hungry opinions and I got great feedback. For those of you who are new readers, I’d love to hear your opinions! Well, and old readers too. I like hearing your opinions. 😉