Your brain and your body will do best with predictable meals throughout the day. Feeding yourself regularly is an important part of self care that often isn’t taken seriously.

If you find eating meals is more of an after thought today’s lesson will be really important for you. Part of taking care of yourself includes feeding yourself regularly throughout the day.

In Ellyn Satter’s Hierarchy of Food Needs you can see just that.This model is based from the same concept of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. What is says is you need to accomplish each step independently before you will be able to move on successfully to the next step. Take note of this Hierarchy of Food Needs Pyramid (see below). You must start at the bottom and work your way up.

The very bottom of the pyramid is “Getting Enough Food.” While the top of the pyramid is “Novel Food” and “Instrumental Food.”  Most of the time the medical community wants to attack the top of the pyramid first, stop eating X food, eat more of X food, etc… However, what we know from research is starting at the top does not result in long term success.

You can plainly see, if you are struggling with just getting enough food (the bottom of the pyramid) then of course you would struggle with trying to incorporate instrumental food/concepts (the top of the pyramid).  It’s where most healthcare workers get it all wrong and why trying to heal your relationship with food is an essential step you can’t rush. Also, it is why we have not talked about What to eat in this program.

If you don’t first establish getting enough, you won’t be able to sustain the novel or instrumental foods for long.

This takes me back to today’s topic. Getting enough to eat. Your body needs to feel as if it is getting enough to eat. That means have predictable meals and snacks throughout the day. It’s eating until you feel full and satisfied. If you are still trying to restrict yourself or eat less of a type of food, you will have very little long term success. Remember you have to meet the basic need of getting enough before you can move on to the next levels of the pyramid.

The hungrier you are the more you will struggle with doing a good job with your eating and food.

Keep in mind, you may think skipping breakfast will result in you taking in less calories per day. However, the body knows how much it needs. Most often people who skip breakfast overeat later in the day as a way the body makes up for what it missed earlier in the day. It’s why you may feel so hungry or as if you can’t control your eating from the time you get home in the evening until you go to bed.

It sets you up for the deprivation binge cycle we have talked about already in this program. It only leads to guilt and shame around your eating.

It could be why if you didn’t make time for lunch, you feel out of control with your eating as soon as you get home. It’s your body doing what it is supposed to do. Even if this means taking in all your calories late in the day.

So, get in the meal habit. Start with planning out your meals for the day. Make a point to take time to eat your food. It’s really important in self care and even more important for your basic foods needs…getting enough.

Set a Timer

It’s not always easy to plan for eating when you haven’t for so long. You can’t really rely on your body to tell you when you are hungry if you haven’t been listening. Setting a timer on your phone or your calendar at work to ding for your main meals in the beginning has been very successful for my clients. It isn’t something that you will always have to do. Eventually your body will start telling you when you need to eat, but not in the beginning.

Plan Ahead

Know what your are going to be eating. If it’s breakfast, plan it out the night before. Prepare your lunch the night before or have a plan for at work/school. Make it something quick and easy if you struggle with time in the morning. It can be as big or small as your body needs right now. In the beginning if your body isn’t used to breaking down food in the morning, you may not have the best appetite. Start small, a glass a juice or a small granola bar. As your appetite increases so can your food selections

Have Food in House

There is nothing worse than not having enough food in the house. Just the simple act of not having stocked cabinets can make you feel food insecure. If you can’t find something enjoyable to eat, you won’t be satisfied. Make sure you go to the store, have food available you can fill up on.

Remember having meals throughout the day is about taking care of yourself. As this first steps give yourself unconditional permission to eat whatever you need to get the job done. Eating no matter what it is is the first step. It can take some time to get into the habit so be patient.