We always talk about listening to our bodies and understanding the warning signs/messages they tell us. Being able to understand what they are saying can be imperative in allowing yourself to improve as an athlete. However, there are times when it is worth NOT listening to your body. Controversial, I know.
There is a lot of talk about intuitive eating. This is listening to your body and eating when it tells you it is hungry. This is great, but it doesn’t always work if you are an active person or an athlete. Why? Because we often need to eat more than our body tells us to. I used to believe that it was only acceptable to eat if I was really hungry. I would let myself get to the point where I felt lightheaded and struggled to move before I would allow myself to eat. This is a point we do not need to get to if we are lucky enough to have the privilege to avoid it. There is so much more to eating food than just to fill a hole. So, when is this sometimes the case?
Because you want to!
This is the only place to start. Sometimes you aren’t hungry at all, but something takes your fancy, and it is ok to eat it. You don’t always need to be at the point of hunger in order for it to be ok to eat. Food is a source of enjoyment for many, and for this reason, if you want to eat, don’t let yourself not. If you are a healthy individual, it is ok to eat whenever food takes your fancy! In the past I would’ve never let myself eat if I was not hungry, and for this reason I missed out on a lot of good food! So now, I eat whenever I want to.
It is important to refuel your body after training in order to kickstart the recovery process. Quite often, as soon as you’ve finished training, you aren’t hungry, but the sooner you can get some fuel in, the quicker your body can begin to repair ahead of the next session. If you take a flask of milk, an energy bar, or my favourite, a carton of Drink EO3, you can get this into your system as soon as you are finished. It can take a little while to get into the routine, but as soon as it becomes habit, you don’t even think about whether you are hungry or not, because you know you need to refuel. When I was at my worst, exercise was a way to burn calories, therefore the last thing I wanted to do was eat more after I’d burnt them off. As a consequence, I lost any muscle and strength I had, because I was never giving my body the fuel it needed to repair and build.
Before an early morning run.
Sometimes if you train early in the morning, you aren’t hungry when you wake up, and therefore you decide to skip breakfast. However, I for one hate to run on empty. I don’t want my to body to eat into my fat stores too often, so waking up even 30 minutes early, allows me time to get a light snack in. This also prevents hitting that point 30 minutes into a run where all you want is food and hunger hits. A morning run is a lot more enjoyable, and also productive, when you have energy from a bit of food.
For the social benefit.
Not only is it a necessity, but food is also a social experience. We often meet up with friends for a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, at all times of the day, whether we are hungry or not. We don’t have to be hungry to justify going out for something to eat with a friend. I used to avoid social situations involving food because I did not want to eat, and consequently I lost out on a lot of amazing times with friends. Being able to eat for the social benefit of it is a valuable thing that helps build strong and happy bonds.
So, next time you hesitate having a bite to eat because you aren't hungry enough, remind yourself that you don't always NEED to be super hungry to justify eating. Food serves a lot of other purposes, enjoy it.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!