Listen to your body, not the clock – eat when you’re hungry / by Tobey Schmidt


Eating based on time, rather than hunger, is an old tradition.

For most, we grow up eating on a schedule. In my family we always ate dinner together. I can remember days that I’d get home from dance starving, but knew dinner wasn’t for a few hours.

To quell my legitimate hunger pains, I’d snack in the kitchen until then. Sometimes my sister and I would make an entire meal for ourselves and reassure our mother that we were still going to sit with the family and eat dinner.

Yes, my food is usually this beautiful.

Yes, my food is usually this beautiful.

By the time dinner was on the table, I’m sure my body didn’t actually need the food. I wasn’t hungry anymore, but I’d eat a full plate anyways, simply because that was dinner and I hadn’t eaten it yet. I had only been “snacking”…..on two bowls of last night’s spaghetti….

The problem with the “3 meals a day,” tradition is that the human body needs nutrition every 3 to 4 hours. Mine is more like every 2 hours. This doesn’t mean that you should forget the idea of organized meals and family dinners, it just means that you should start listening to what your body wants and needs.

You don’t need to wait until the clock strikes noon. Eat when you feel hunger. Stop when you’re satisfied, not when you’re so full that you can’t move – trust me, I’ve been there plenty of times.

If you planned a lunch, but you’ve satisfied your hunger halfway through it, save the rest for a few hours later when you’re feeling hungry again. Whether you eat that whole lunch or not, you will still be hungry in a few hours.

This also means that you shouldn’t be afraid to eat a meal or a big snack every few hours. I probably eat 6 to 8 meals a day. My “snacks” are typically full sandwiches, smoothies, yogurt and fruit bowls, grilled veggies and potatoes, etc.

As a young woman in a time when social media has made it possible for us to compare ourselves to a million other human beings through our cell phone screens, I see a myriad of conversations happening about food and body image.

I’ve heard girls tell each other that they just chew gum when they’re hungry. Take a few adderall and you’ll lose your appetite.

That is not healthy. 

Depriving yourself of food when your body wants it is not healthy.

Don’t ever be afraid to fulfill your feelings of hunger. Try a day without schedules and just eat when you feel like you need to. Eat smaller meals more often.

Finally, listen to your body. Don’t we sleep when we feel tired?