I have had this particular conversation about, oh, let's say, a zillion times during an initial client consult with both women and men with weight loss goals:
Me: What does a typical breakfast look like?
Client: Maybe a fat-free or low-fat yogurt with a handful of berries and coffee with a Splenda. Or maybe just a banana and coffee.
Me: Do you get hungry between breakfast and lunch?
Client: Oh, yeah. I'm usually starving! I try not to snack, though, until I get to lunch around noon.
Me: What is lunch?
Client: A green salad. And coffee or diet soda. Sometimes I skip it.
Me: Are you hungry between lunch and dinner? Do you snack?
Client: Actually, I'm hungry pretty much all the time! I can get through most of the day, but then either right before dinner around 5 or in the evening after dinner is where I blow it. I will open the cabinets intending to just get out a granola bar, but I end up eating four or more. Or I'll eat a few bowls of cereal or a half jar of peanut butter. Or I'll eat a sleeve of crackers and cheese. Once I get started, I can't stop--my appetite is totally out of control.
We know that "calories in, calories out" is a key equation in weight loss, and many of my clients with weight loss goals have a long history of "saving" calories by skimping on meals early in the day. But if you're eating a breakfast and a lunch that would barely meet the needs of a 7-year-old girl, and you're not one, it's going to catch up with you.
White-knuckling it and depriving your body of energy (aka food) all day will inevitably lead to a binge.
One of the toughest things that I ask my calorie-restricting clients to do is to learn to nourish their bodies at breakfast with food that gives them energy to power through their morning instead of restrict, restrict, restrict. My clients often get a panicked look when I suggest they eat a breakfast that tallies up somewhere closer to 350 to 500 calories when they've been terrified to break 150 calories. But did you ever hear that great expression, "A stitch in time saves nine?" Eating a proper breakfast and actually feeling satiated is a huge defense against over-eating later in the day. It doesn't have to be fancy: A bowl of oatmeal with added nuts and seeds (Gasp!) and some fresh or frozen fruit; a couple slices of sprouted grain toast with a salted half avocado and some nuts & seeds; scrambled eggs with plenty of bell peppers and spinach topped with black beans, salsa and a tablespoon of guacamole; or overnight oats with rolled oats, chia seeds, additional nuts & seeds, unsweetened almond milk and fresh fruit.
It's a great reward when a client who's been restricting for years reports they've begun eating a proper breakfast and they're amazed how much better they feel, how much energy they have, and how much clearer they feel mentally.
If you're a member of the breakfast restriction/evening binge club and don't know how to move forward, please be in touch.