undereating mother

Signs of Undereating: The Notorious Undereater

A chicken nugget here, a bite of a PB&J there. Just a few pretzels and then dinner. This is what I hear a lot from busy moms. They have snacked off the remains of their toddler’s plate, but they never ate a full meal.

Despite the common theme from well-meaning people, I would argue quantitatively most busy women are not overindulging in sheer quantities of food. Frequently people will just blurt out “Eat Less”. Stop eating when you aren’t hungry.

That always makes me laugh! Why? Well, I’m always hungry. It’s not hungry in a dangerous way, it’s hungry in a way that lets me know that I am not making good nutritious food decisions. 

That can be frustrating for busy moms. It doesn’t matter where you are working, we are often multitasking. In the hierarchy of things that need to be done, work, household chores, children’s needs, spouse’s needs, physical needs of our body, our nutrition needs are often overlooked. In fact, we are often feeding ourselves on the fly, not even bothering to sit down to eat an actual meal.

One could say it’s easier to correct when you eat lots of excess energy, and for the under-eater, this is often their perception. Just tell me what to change, and I’ll change it!  Just tell me which food group to avoid, and I will avoid it. Just tell me what not to eat so I can lose weight. You can hear much of American diet culture steeped in these comments. Especially the culture that says just restrict calories and eat less. 

For the under-eater changing the lifestyle is simple in some ways and yet more difficult in others.  

Before we address how to correct the under-eating we first need to know some signs of undereating! You may find yourself needing coffee in the afternoon to get through the day. You find yourself getting sick more frequently than those around you, or your recovery takes longer than others around you. You may struggle to lose weight and carry around a lot of inflammation such as swelling in the hands, feet, and face. You may experience hair loss, dry and brittle skin. You may also feel constantly hungry. 

Each person will experience these symptoms to varying degrees, or might find one of these symptoms more annoying than others!

The wonderful news about undereating is that it can be corrected quite easily. Intentional focus on the issue can make major changes. However, to set expectations well, think about 6 months to 1 year of adjustment for your nutrient levels to adjust, however, you will feel better and more energetic fairly quickly. 

Make yourself a priority during the day.

If you make a meal for your kids, make a meal for yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s the same thing your kids are eating. You need to eat something of substance regularly. As an adult, you have a caloric need to keep your body moving optimally and thinking well. Undereating can make you feel cranky, irritable, tired, and less resilient. 

Sit down for your meals

It’s important to make sure that you sit down to eat each of your meals. You need to mentally connect to your food. Digestion begins in the mouth. The more we can make a mind-body (mouth/chewing) connection the more we can create adequate gastric juices and the more our body will connect to how much food it actually needs. 

Slow your chewing

Undereaters are often slow eaters taking bites of their food on the fly and never really feeling like they ate. Generally, the undereater feels fine until they stop moving! Then they realize they are starving. In an effort to not overindulge, they will just have a few bites here and there. Usually culminating in a lot of empty calorie consumption as they head to bed in the form of alcohol, crackers, cheese, etc. 

You have to actually eat!

This is the hard part. Most of us undereaters see a basic plate of food and think wow that’s a lot. And it is for you! This is the reason to enlist a coach to help you eat and track your food. There are so many amazing ways out there to track that do not make it feel overwhelming. For the under-eater, it will be necessary to track food consciously for a period of time. This is not a caloric restriction process, I want to make it clear. It’s just a means of ensuring you have eaten adequate amounts of food for the day. It would look something like this: Breakfast – cereal, 2 eggs, and coffee. Snack granola bar, Lunch – salad with some chicken, Dinner – steak potato, and salad. If you find yourself at the end of the day, you would know if you had managed to skip a meal! 

Undereating through the day is en vogue now! For the person who naturally does not eat a lot, it would seem like a dream come true. However, a few things to remember. Your metabolic rate adjusts to your food intake. If it did not, humans would die off rapidly. Your body needs calories to function, especially your organs including your brain! When we are functioning on too little, our bodies can find themselves in a heightened stress state, and instead of burning off what we need to, we begin to store our food just the opposite of what we would want!

If you are an undereater, sign up for coaching today to learn to eat for your body!

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