Diet culture says you have to eat less; restrict food to lose weight. In today’s episode, I am sharing with you why that is not always the case. If you find yourself stuck, you could be dealing with the complete opposite issue, so stay tuned for the 5 signs you could be undereating.
Are you feeling burned out, exhausted, and depleted? Does it seem like there’s zero time for you at the end of your busy days? Do you feel selfish for even wanting a few minutes for yourself?
Do you feel stuck in your health journey? Are you disappointed in yourself for not moving more, eating healthier, and dealing with the never-ending anxiety?
If any of that describes you right now, please know you are not alone! I am hearing it more and more, especially since this pandemic and the stay-at-home orders began.
And so, I have created something to help you begin to take baby steps toward prioritizing yourself and your health again. Head over to Feel Amazing Naked to grab your free download and I will lead you through my exact Grounding Day routine.
In Case You Missed It…
In the last episode, I shared 5 signs you may be overeating and how to address that issue. In that episode, I was very honest and told you that overeating is my personal struggle.
I’ve never met a food I didn’t obsess over and want more of. Okay, not really but if you’re an overeater, you get what I’m saying. I love food, I think about food, and I don’t like to stop eating even when I’m full.
If you missed that episode, be sure to go back and catch it, especially if you suspect that you are an overeater like me. Add link to episode as it wasn’t live for me yet.
And while I addressed the overeaters first on the podcast, today’s topic is one that I deal with far more often as I work with women who are stuck on their weight loss journeys. Far more women struggle with undereating as opposed to overeating.
Perpetuating the Wrong Story
Most of us who are ages 30 and over can think back to our growing up years and spout off the different diets our mothers and our friends’ mothers were on.
We grew up learning that the only way to lose weight and to look the way everybody said you were supposed to look was to restrict your food intake. These stories dig deep grooves into our brains and we not only believe them as kids, but we grow up to repeat the same behaviors.
I even did Weight Watchers with my mom when I was in high school and I definitely did not need to lose weight.
The problem here is that society tells us repeatedly that we are not enough, that we need to look a certain way, and if we don’t, we are not worthy of anything. And that is a lie.
Are You a Chronic Overserver?
Diet culture isn’t the only culprit in this mass epidemic of women who undereat.
I also find as I work with clients that we as women continue to chronically overserve others while underserving ourselves. I especially see this in the entrepreneurial women I work with.
These women get up and they get started on their business. They work, work, work, hustle, hustle, hustle, and they look up and it’s 3:00 in the afternoon and it dawns on them that, “Oh man, I haven’t eaten anything today.”
Or there are the moms whose kids wake them up and it’s go, go, go with the kids all day and the mom is just grabbing a bite here and a bite there, snacking as she runs around all day. And when it’s time to make dinner, she wonders why in the world she is so.damn.hangry.
If any of what I’ve said so far resonates with you, you may be a chronic undereater. If that’s you, stay with me because I am going to share 3 things with you:
- 5 signs you may be an undereater.
- Why undereating can drive weight gain.
- Tips and tools to help you create success.
Sign #1- Do You Wake Up Hungry?
If you wake up and you find that you can go hours without feeling hungry, you may be undereating.
What’s happening is that the body is adapting to the undereating and the hormones used in metabolism are dormant. It’s pretty simple: if you aren’t eating, the hormones that metabolize your food have no reason to show up for work.
One of the first signs I see when I begin working with a woman who is a chronic undereater is that she will tell me, “Amanda, for the first time in I don’t know how long, I am waking up hungry!”
And let me tell you, I celebrate when this happens because it’s a great sign that the hormones are waking up again and ready to party!
Sign #2- Can You Lose a Little Bit of Weight Really Fast…then Nothing?
This is one that drives a lot of women absolutely crazy. You start a new diet and you lose weight really fast. But then you stop. And no matter how strict you get with yourself, you can’t drop any more weight.
So, you restrict yourself even more. And the more you restrict yourself, the less weight you lose and the more frustrated you become.
I’ll talk more about this later on but for now, let’s move on to sign #3, which is…
Sign #3- Got Symptoms?
If you find yourself dealing with chronic headaches, irritability, or mood swings, it’s because you are literally forcing your body to fight itself.
I currently have 2 clients that have been treated medically for chronic migraines and mood swings. The funny thing is, now that they’re focused on eating at least 3 balanced plates every day, the headaches are miraculously gone.
And these ladies want to know why their doctors never suggested that what they needed were food and water.
Our bodies need food and water, and when we don’t provide them with those fundamental things, they cannot function correctly. All of these “symptoms” are your body screaming at you to get your attention.
*And by the way, if you struggle with anxiety or depression, did you know that it has been proven that regular meals are one of the best antidotes to those 2 things? Now, obviously, food isn’t the cure for everything that ails us. But if you aren’t eating regular meals, maybe try that and see if it doesn’t get you on more solid ground with your emotions and mental health.
Sign #4- Are You Having Trouble Sleeping?
One of the surest signs of undereating and undernourishing yourself is that you will struggle with getting enough good sleep.
Do you find yourself constantly waking up at night? Are you tired all day and you don’t know why? Maybe it’s a lack of high-quality sleep.
Lack of sleep leaves you with very little energy. And without that energy, the body can’t function correctly, even to sleep. You wake up because your body doesn’t have enough fuel to function.
Better sleep helps your job performance. It gives you more energy to keep up with your kids and to work on your business.
Without the proper amount of decent sleep, you simply won’t have the energy to keep up with your life.
Sign #5- Are You Gaining Weight?
I know, this frustrates you to no end. You hardly allow yourself any calories, you tighten down on your food restrictions more and more every day, and you are still gaining weight.
It takes me a while sometimes to convince my clients who are chronic undereaters to eat more to begin to see results. They look at me like I’ve got 3 heads or an eyeball in the middle of my forehead when I tell them, “Yes, you really do have to eat more.”
The rules of diet culture are so ingrained in them that they see food restriction as the only way out of this life they feel stuck in. And it’s that very diet culture that is harming them and causing the weight to continue to stack on.
In the episode I did on overeating, I gave several steps toward seeing some success and I want to do the same here.
Know where you are.
Whether you’re an overeater or an undereater, you have to begin with data. I have my clients track their food intake for 7-10 days and then I analyze the data. With some simple calculations and my experience working with hundreds of women, I can see pretty quickly if I’m dealing with an undereater.
Your brain is smarter than you think.
Here’s the thing- we think we are in control of ourselves when really, our brain controls the whole shebang and we are along for the ride.
If we aren’t fueling our bodies properly, our brain goes into preservation mode. It basically says to itself, “Amanda doesn’t have enough fuel to get through this day so I better hold onto everything we currently have on board to fuel her throughout the day today.”
So, what happens?
The more we restrict food, the more our brain tells our body to hold onto. And that means that instead of our lack of food causing us to lose weight, it causes us to hold onto weight. And no metabolizing hormones means that when we do eat, we hold onto that, too.
Start With 3 Meals per Day
Whether you are eating too much or not eating enough, it is always beneficial to start with 3 meals per day. Each meal needs to include protein, healthy carbs, fats, and veggies.
If you are a chronic undereater, you will find that the simple act of eating 3 balanced meals every day has startling results almost immediately. That’s because now, instead of taking in all your calories in the evening, you have fuel throughout the day.
Your energy will rise, your hormones will show up to work, and your mood swings will begin to correct themselves. You are seeing the beginning of the shift.
But do me a favor- don’t be impatient.
After however long of starving your body, it may take some time for your body to adjust to eating. Be patient with yourself and let your body catch up. You might not see weight loss for a bit and that is okay!
*This can be a scary time, as you may even gain a few lbs. I really suggest working with a coach who can help you through at least the beginning stages of refeeding your body so that you stay the course.
Notice Your Hunger Cues
Once you start fueling your body correctly, those hunger cues are going to show up to the party.
It’s time to celebrate! Don’t ignore those feelings of hunger. Don’t be afraid of them. Diet culture has taught you to suppress those feelings of hunger and push past them. NO!
Listen to me: FOOD IS SAFE.
Give yourself the space to feel the things you feel and ask yourself, “What is my body saying? What is it asking me for?”
And if you are hungry, give yourself a meal or a well-balanced snack.
Reverse Your Strategy
If, and only if, you know you fall into the category of undereating, you might need to do what’s called reverse dieting.
Reverse dieting is exactly what it sounds like. It is the opposite of dieting. Reverse dieting is simply adding food to your day in small doses to help your body respond in a positive way.
You need to do this in small doses because if you are a chronic undereater, and all of a sudden, you try to increase your calorie intake to your maintenance level, that’s too big of a leap for you. It will feel overwhelming and you may experience other symptoms such as bloating.
By adding food in small amounts over time, you can more closely monitor how you feel, what progress you’re making, and what your energy levels are.
So, if you currently eat only one meal per day, I’ll help you get to the point of eating two meals per day. And only when you are able to handle two meals per day will we move to three meals per day.
We add food slowly so as to not overwhelm your body.
Which Camp Are You In?
In this episode and the last one, I have laid it all on the line; overeaters (me), and undereaters (a lot of you!)
So, where do you find yourself?
There are so many similarities between the two camps and that’s really what inspired me to do these two episodes. Because the culture constantly tells us that we need to eat less, we buy it hook, line, and sinker, and for some of us, it’s the wrong advice!
I just want to invite you to get curious about where you are. Maybe your problem is not that you eat too much. Or maybe it is. But you won’t know until you get some clarity.
There may be many layers of this onion that you have to peel back before you get to all the root causes. If you don’t know where to start, I am here to help.
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