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Do you eat too much?

Or maybe you don’t eat at the “right” times?

Just like the idea that different people don’t need to like the same food, different people also don’t need to eat the same amount of food. Looking to others as a way of determining how much to eat is a very, very dangerous idea. No two people have the exact same body and lifestyle, and therefore no two people should be eating the exact same amount.

sugar cookie oatmeal

This was my breakfast today: Sugar Cookie Oatmeal.

I ate it, post-run, along with strawberry slices and peanut butter. Pre-run breakfast consisted of fresh watermelon and a bunch of pistachios. After breakfast, I talked with my little sister on the phone. She’d just woken up and was eating her own breakfast: a single container of yogurt.

Whose eating style is correct?

Both of ours! I probably eat about twice as much as my sister, and yet we’re both perfectly healthy. She’s shorter than me, has a slower metabolism, and doesn’t go running; therefore she needs less. If she were to eat like me, she’d probably end up with the world’s worst stomachache. And if I were to eat like her, I’d be so hungry I could eat an elephant. (Don’t worry, fellow vegans. I said I could, not I would.)

The mainstream media tells us there is also a “right” number of times to eat: five or six small meals, divided throughout the day. But once again, I have to argue that no one should take this advice as something set in stone. Do not trust society to tell you what or when to eat; experiment and find out what works best for you. I think eating every 3-4 hours works best for many people because it keeps energy levels up. But if you find that your energy doesn’t drag even if you go six hours without food, why should you feel like you have to eat anyway?

As an example, let’s use my friend Sarah.

She normally eats a small breakfast, followed by a big lunch and dinner, and she rarely ever snacks during the day.

lemon-muffins

Unless I make Lemon Poppyseed Muffins.

Those, she can’t resist.

On the other hand, I usually eat six meals a day and will almost always taste-test recipes in between meals as well. You’d be hard pressed to find a time my mouth is not stuffed with food. Does this mean one of us is eating incorrectly? No, not at all! It just means we’re different people with different needs.

Do you eat three meals per day? Or six smaller meals? Or maybe you’re a grazer?

And do you ever compare the amount you eat to what others eat?

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Published on July 11, 2011

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184 Comments

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  1. Christina says

    Today, I eat three small meals a day with one snack in the afternoon. Despite my efforts at eating a certain amount, I tend to go a bit out of control. (Especially with dips!) Luckily, I’m trying my best to keep my grazing to a minimum.

    The funny thing is when I was a kid… I would eat a lot. No, seriously, I could easily eat the giant-sized plates of pasta in restaurants when I was eleven! However, the interesting thing was that I didn’t gain too much weight, I was only “a little bit heavier” than normal. I find this really interesting because I grew up in a time when food wasn’t manipulated as it is today. Whenever I see news reports on obesity and especially childhood obesity, it makes me think about the overall quality of food in this day and age.

  2. Emily N. says

    When I was a little girl I was always hungry. I was a super active kid, so I had a big appetite. People always used to say “wow you’re such a good eater, you eat everything!”, or “how are you already hungry, you just ate an hour ago!”, or “you eat all the time!” Eventually the comments got to me, and I ended up with an eating disorder come middle school. My athletic performance was severely weakened because I didn’t have enough energy to give it my all, and I lost a lot of years where I could’ve been having fun instead of worrying about my weight. I guess people need to understand that side remarks can go a long way, and if we all just appreciated that we have different nutritional needs, there wouldn’t be so much judgement involved.

  3. Katie says

    My problem is I eat all my calories before the afternoon even begins! Although I wake up around 5 every morning to work out. I struggled with anorexia and once recovered from that had (and somewhat still having) an episode of binge eating. But my doctor says as long as I get my days worth of calories and nutrients it really doesnt matter WHEN I have them! Thanks for the post Katie, it was very appreciated! (:

  4. Emily says

    What If I’m unsure on how I am suppose to eat?
    I jog, not run… not that good yet lol.
    Around 3-4 days a week. I walk a good chunk of the time, and mondays I do zumba.
    :\ I’ve got no clue on how to eat. I under eat or I over eat… Theres no middle ground

  5. vale says

    this is so true!!!!
    when people look at me eating they says ” you are not eating nutritious food” only cause i prefer vegetables,fruit and whole carbs to any refined carbs and meat… and then they ask me why do i have a beautiful skin EHEHEH
    I really eat something like 1 kg of vegetables and fruit per day… and my body is ok with that!
    last time i ate some oily white noodles (due to major reason) i felt SOOOO SLEEPY.
    🙂 🙂 vegan fight <3

  6. Christy says

    is usually eat a normal sized breakfast, a very small luch, sometimes a snack in the afternoon, a dinner thats alittle smaller than a normal size and usually a bedtime snack. i think i eat around 1,300 cal a day and i dont think its quite enough because im going on 2-6 hrs of sleep and i get light-headed sometimes. i should think about changing my diet…

  7. Justine says

    I’m a teenager, and I’m mostly vegan, and I eat, like, seven or eight times a day.
    Some of my friends totally skip breakfast, eat just fruit and granola bars for lunch, and have a massive dinner.
    I’m recovering from anorexia, so my meal plan (from my dietician) is pretty darn large, and what with being vegan, I have to eat quite a bit. I feel hungry way more that my 3 years older sister, work out more than she does,
    And I definitely eat more. Eat what feels right for you, everyone! Intuitive eating is an important skill to learn, and it makes you feel good.

  8. Cecilie Hjorth says

    Great post, Katie! I am like you, I need to eat a tooon of food yet I am very lean, and I eat 5-6 meals a day usually. My boyfriends parents often comment how I eat all the time and my portions are really big, as in sometimes what I think to be 3 times more than some people. I have always had to eat a lot to feel my best and honestly I love it so much, but it took some time for me to come around it as a woman.
    Thank you for sharing this post, it’s so nice to know that I am not the only one 😉
    Lots of love!

  9. Lauren says

    This is my struggle….because I love food and could eat all day, but unfortunately I’m short/petite and not super active so I have to watch how much I eat. I didn’t realize until this year that I had to eat less than my friends who are larger/taller. I would eat the same way and gain weight while they stayed the same. I started seeing a dietician and when she had me on a certain amount of carbs per meal, I realized that I had been eating too much. I tried staying on her restricted diet, which included no snacking, but it was very difficult. As I said, I like food. I lost weight on her plan but was unhappy. I’m trying to balance out her way with my way, some sort of in-between. I also go to the gym regularly now so I hope that helps.

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