As I ate my first day of full three meals and snacks, though, another question (besides "How am I already hungry?") entered my mind: Why do I eat?
First, I eat because I'm hungry. Some days during summer, my stomach doesn't fully wake up and demand food until 10:30 or 11. So I eat later. (Brunch, anyone?)
This particular morning, though, I woke up starving and nothing but a huge sundae (thanks to my banana ice cream obsession) would do. I don't count calories, but I do know that my smoothie bowls never leave me hungry - though that won't stop me from taking another bite of granola and sunbutter as I put my smoothie toppings away!
This hunger - stomach pangs that demand a food sacrifice - and the biological processes that cause it is only one reason why I open the fridge. I also eat because I need fuel.
I wish I was one of those people who could "eat intuitively." They don't follow the clock, eat when hungry and not when bored, and comfortably fill their stomachs instead of eating to clean the plate. But, I can't. First because, as a college student during the school year, classes require me to eat or pack food before a certain time. My stomach may not think it's lunch time, but my schedule does!
Second, as a person who loses weight easily and exercises regularly, I can't always follow my hunger cues. Some days, I'm not truly hungry until dinner - but I still eat some nutrient-dense food to kick start my metabolism and power me through my customary afternoon workout.
I learned the hard way last year that sometimes a body can't be trusted to provide hunger cues. I hate eating when I'm not hungry, but sometimes it's necessary. My favorite non-hungry meals often involve broiled veggies, coconut yogurt and granola, or handfuls of mixed greens with leftover protein from the fridge (meatloaf, salmon, chicken, you name it!). And, oddly enough, I've found that fueling my body will often fuel my appetite as well - a win/win in my mind!
And, sometimes, I just eat because I want to eat, dang it! On this particular day, I woke up craving a taco salad for dinner - complete with homemade guac, freshly squeezed lemon and a crispy potapas tortilla with daiya cheese on the side. So, even though it's not one of my typical dishes, that's what I (happily) devoured.
Much of today's dietary advice vilifies emotional eating. Pull up a health magazine online or the latest issue of Cosmopolitan from the grocery checkout, and they will undoubtedly contain at least one article on how to lower one's appetite, squash cravings, and stop snacking.
Sure, I can understand the value of such tips to a point. If you eat a pint of ice cream every night and feel badly because of it every morning, that's probably a dietary habit to adjust. At the same time, though, food should also be enjoyed for both its nutritional content and its taste. Moreover, I'm always thankful to be able to fulfill a craving - whether in the form of a "healthified" taco salad filled with veggies or an all-out treat of birthday cake - while others around the world scrounge for any food at all.
I like to think that, as messed up as my body is at times, it still has its reasons. So, when I ended up whipping up my first batch cookies in months and chomping on more than a few (with cashew butter, banana slices, and yogurt on the side), I figure my body didn't get all the fuel it needed that day.
Or maybe it was my soul that didn't. Because, sometimes, I eat because it tastes too good to not have a second bite. Because it's summer time and I have free time (and recipes) to kill. Because I know I'll savor the memory of jamming to Maroon 5 in my PJ's with cookie dough sticking to my fingers more than regret whatever extra calories I enjoyed that night.
If What I Ate Wednesday posts have taught me anything, it's that every person's diet is different. Some bloggers may look at my Instagram and think I eat too little, while others may say too much. Even one individual's diet doesn't perpetually stay the same. Some days I eat cookies; other times, it's all about the fruit, veggies and avocado.
What stays constant between all of us, however, is the why. Hopefully, we eat for hunger. For fuel. For cravings and for memories.
People say that life is too short for bad food. I say? Amen. Is dinner ready yet?
*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link love!*
Why do you commonly find yourself eating? Do you ever have to eat when you're not hungry? Comment below!