People do that, I hear. They forget to eat.
I have a friend who works at a computer all day, most days and his Facebook posts occasionally say things like “3 pm, guess I should eat something today.”
But not me. I wake up hungry. If I don’t snack in the evenings I’ve been known to wake up at 3 am hungry.
I never forget supper. Mid afternoon comes around and I’m thinking about food. I snack, the goal is to snack healthily, so I can make it to dinner. I snack on veggies while I cook.
People talk about eating when hungry and stopping when full as if it might push them to eat less. But I’m often hungry. Not vaguely snack-y, I mean stomach growling, actually full blown hungry hunger.
Twice recently I’ve realized that I’ve forgotten to eat. Both times, of course, on bike rides. That’s bad.
Last week I had a 5 pm training ride. They’re hard. I had lunch. Returned to my desk. Started to get ready to leave for the ride and realized, “Oh, crap. Food. I have to eat.”
That’s an external cue, bike ride!, rather than an internal one, hunger, but it didn’t matter. Intuitive eating be dammed, I need to eat. So I found a protein bar in a vending machine and off I went.
But it wasn’t enough. Three quarters way through the ride, I was rustling through my jersey pocket trying to unwrap gel blocks without either a)tipping my bike over or b)getting dropped. I managed but I stopped halfway home and ate a sports bar and then real dinner when I got home at 7.
We’ve written a lot on this blog about cycling and food. See:
- Why riding fast and long requires lots of food
- It’s all about the fuel!
- How much biking does that breakfast get you?
Here’s some of what I’ve written:
For me biking is one of the few contexts in which eating intuitively doesn’t work at all. If I work hard I don’t feel like eating but you can’t ride a bike without food.
I blogged about my experiences in the post Hunger and Nutrition.
I struggle a bit with this because I’m often not hungry when I know I need to eat–during long, intense bike rides is the most common example–and at other times I’m famished even when I know there’s no need for extra calories (after long bike rides when I’m often hungry for the rest of the day and into the next one even after I’ve refueled.)
I know from experience that if I don’t eat while riding my performance suffers. It’s not just that I struggle while riding, I’m also hungry for days afterwards. By the time I get off the bike I’m eating anything and everything in sight. Often I’m still hungry the next day.
But if I eat regularly, before I’m hungry, and keep eating throughout the ride, I’m fine.
If I get the balance right not only can I ride faster, for longer, there’s no big swing in hunger associated with a long hard ride. I can have dinner that night as usual.
So I do it because I know it works even if it means setting aside my usual “eat when hungry” mantra.
If I find it tough, I think, again based on experience, my smaller cycling friends have it tougher. Food management can hugely affect cycling performance. It’s worth experimenting to find what works.
I’m not sure what’s caused the missing meals thing with me. I’ve got some guesses related to medication I’m taking. The experience has been a bit of an eye opener about intuitive eating If my hunger cues are so radically different when presumably my energy needs are about the same, hunger might not be such a reliable guide. Indeed, regulating hunger and appetite turns out to be something the body isn’t very good at and many people think these hormones (not a relapse to old ways and bad habits) are a big part of the explanation of weight regain.
The good news is that I might even be able to run in the morning. See here for why I haven’t been able to in the past.