Our intuitive eating clients often ask: if I’m not hungry for breakfast, is it ok to skip a meal or intuitively fast? Depending on where you are in your intuitive eating journey, it may produce a different answer.
If you’re just starting to learn intuitive eating, skipping meals, missing breakfast, or trying intuitive fasting may prolong your journey to finding and feeling your true hunger and fullness signals. But if you consider yourself a seasoned or advanced intuitive eater (i.e., one who has a strengthened mind-body connection) not eating breakfast or intuitively fasting when you’re not feeling hungry may be the very intuitive thing to do. Read on to find out the 4 symptoms that indicate maybe skipping breakfast wasn’t the right call and if skipping meals is impeding your intuitive eating or supporting it.
FREE PRINTABLE MINDFUL CHECKLIST (JPG OR PDF)
WHY SKIPPING MEALS CAN HINDER YOUR ABILITY TO BECOME AN INTUITITVE EATER
1) Your hunger is currently suppressed: If you have a background of trying different diets, tracking your intake, watching portions, or limiting certain foods then your body’s hunger cues might currently be stifled. Therefore, the last thing you want to do is skip meals or go long periods without eating. When we have a history of ignoring our body’s signals (aka dieting) then chances are high that our metabolism has slowed
down. Perpetuating the cycle or just not eating because we don’t feel hungry won’t improve this situation.
2) You’re trying to make up for what you ate yesterday: If this thought is leading your decision to not eat today, then this is a sign you’re still in your head about what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat. The longer we let our mind dictate these decisions the longer we are preventing our body from leading us intuitively. Unfortunately, this mindset is a scarcity mindset which can trigger all sorts of false hunger cravings later in the day. With this we end up overeating and right back to where we started.
3) You’re trying to control your intake: If you feel you would eat less with a small eating window or less meals per day then this can signify to your body food is not available when it is most needed and it will flood your system with hunger hormones causing you to overeat later in the day (i.e. make up for the missed meal) and it can cause late night snacking where we just can’t seem to get satisfied no matter what we eat.
Skipping meals before we learn the skills of intuitive eating can keep our metabolism suppressed and our cravings high.
Putting in the time and intention to relearn our hunger-fullness cues, eliminating our false hunger and repairing our metabolism is the most rewarding journey for someone looking to truly be free around food and feel their healthiest.
WHY SKIPPING MEALS CAN SIGNIFY YOU ARE *NOW* AN INTUITIVE EATER
1) You mentally “try-on” all the food in your house and nothing seems appealing: Despite giving yourself full permission to eat anything for breakfast, you just don’t *want* anything. So, then you wait… you wait 15 minutes, you wait 30 minutes, thinking your hunger will set in and tell you what you want to eat…. But, the hunger never set in and now it’s lunchtime. OR you “try-on” on all the breakfast foods and a simple orange or small yogurt cup is all you really want. “Is this enough?” You ask yourself. Again, giving yourself permission to have more – but you just really don’t want anything else.
For me this is such a liberating phenomenon in so many ways >>>
My previous self, the unconscious, autopilot eater - would just eat – because I had this *pull* to do so. It was a void filling, emotionally out of touch hunger. I just “wanted something”. Many times, I would want 2 bowls of cereal because my hunger wasn’t real – it was more emotional (void) and so once I was done eating, I could feel that “wanting something” feeling again, so out of habit, I soothed with another bowl of cereal.
My previous self, the diet culture minded eater (the one that was told it was wrong to eat 2 bowls of cereal**) - started thinking cereal was a special food that shouldn’t be eaten all the time. So if I did let myself have some, then I would want MORE than 2 bowls because I never knew when I’d get to have it again.
My now, intuitive eating self – when I don’t feel hungry for breakfast (despite looking at everything I have and trying to invent something that would make me want to eat) it’s such a strange feeling. Very liberating. Just “hmm, I just don’t want anything”. I want to yell from the mountain top how many layers of healing led to this and how proud I am of the person I am today – all because of my intuitive eating journey. All I’m left with is my self-regulated appetite, that tells me when it’s time to eat, how much to eat and what to eat – no more mental space taken up.
2) You haven’t suppressed your appetite with caffeine: part of becoming an intuitive eater is becoming aware of how many things, not just foods, make you feel. Our clients are acutely aware of how substances and circumstances make them feel and how they affect their hunger-fullness cues. Once they realize how good it feels to honor their hunger (after false hunger is eliminated) they do all they can to feel their hunger-fullness cues clearly, including not flooding their system with caffeine as a source of false fuel and overriding their hunger cues. They know that if they did this, their body tracks their intake and would be asking for late night snacks anyway.
3) You don’t experience under eating symptoms: Speaking of late-night snacking here is a list of symptoms that might signify you’ve undereaten today and might have needed breakfast after all:
Relentless evening cravings
Difficulty concentrating on tasks during the day
Low energy level
4) It’s not a rule or a “new way” of eating: Just because you notice you haven’t been super hungry for breakfast recently it doesn’t suddenly turn into a new way of eating or a rule. Literally you are so free with food that one day you may not want breakfast the next you really do – and you simply allow the natural flow and rhythm of your body – again, no overthinking.
5) You’re leading with a nurturing mindset:
Controlling Mindset: If feel you might not be hungry for breakfast and then think “great, maybe this will lead to weight loss”, then this can be a red flag to be honest with yourself that a controlling mindset may be prevailing.
Nurturing Holistic Mindset: In fact, someone who is really in tune with their body and has an advanced knowing of the intuitive eating skills might think, “oh man, I hope this decision to not eat doesn’t affect my body negatively”. This is a mindful, nurturing mindset. Then they would monitor for any of the symptoms above to ensure they are strengthening their mind-body connection.
One of the most remarkable life changes intuitive eating gave to me was a self-regulated appetite. My appetite truly fluctuates with my stage of life, season of living, exercise level and special occasion eating. Meaning my body now tracks my intake and adjusts my hunger level accordingly. Another way of saying this is that it has ALWAYS tracked my intake and adjusted my real appetite HOWEVER all of my false hunger clouded those signals. I just don’t have the *pull* to eat allll the time anymore because of the time I took to eliminate the false hunger. It’s liberating.
I’ve gone from a life of extreme control, mentally fighting my way to skipping meals (fasting) to just going with the flow of my appetite and only thinking of food whenever I am physically hungry. I’m now able to trust that my body has got my back because I no longer have all kinds of false hunger infiltrating my day.
I’d love to hear where you are at on your journey – what helps you determine your hunger-fullness cues and your favorite thing to eat for breakfast right now. Right now I'm really into a light breakfast of fruit and a large decaf latte.
Love you all,
DISCLAIMER - This blog post is for informational purposes only and not a suitable substitute for working with your medical professional.