Weight Loss Support - Scheduled meals or intuitive eating

09-11-2011, 07:36 AM
I'm considering switching from intuitive eating (meaning I eat when I feel hungry) to eating on a set schedule (every 3-4 hours).

I've found that lately I feel hungry ALL the time. Sometimes it is likely because I am bored and thinking about food but when I eat a meal or a snack it is usually very small so I am hungry again within two hours for sure. I always stay within my allotted calories but constantly grazing makes me more likely to choose the wrong foods.

What do you guys prefer a strict schedule or do you trust yourself to eat only when you are hungry?

09-11-2011, 07:58 AM
Let's just say I didn't become obese by trusting myself to eat only when I am hungry.

It took awhile before I could sort out what real hunger feels like, as compared to boredom, anxiety, excitement, or just habit.

Scheduled eating works better, I think, especially if someone is used to grazing all day long.


Beach Patrol
09-11-2011, 10:35 AM
I stick to scheduled eating, but having said that, I don't eat just because "it's time to eat" - I must be hungry because food is for sustenance.

On the other hand, my best friend has found that grazing works best for her. She grabs a few bites of whatever here & there & rarely sits down to have an actual "meal". She & I are about the same size (weight & height), age, etc. and we're both losing weight at about the same speed.

So there ya go. :D

My advice? FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. Always.

09-11-2011, 11:06 AM
I usually have 3 meals and 3 snacks. I sort of do a combination of the 2 strategies. For example, I'm not allowed to have my morning snack until 9:30. I don't have to eat it, but if I want it, I need to wait until the set time. I eat a filling breakfast and if I'm busy, I am not physically "hungry" until lunchtime, but some days that snack is all I can think about! Other days I don't think of it until lunchtime. I am trying to learn to recognize true hunger and boredom hunger, it's definitely a mental challenge.

09-11-2011, 11:42 AM
I can't go with complete intuitive eating, because my fat kid voice drowns out the intuition, and I can't tell which is which. Using calorie counts to keep me anchored throughout the day, I eat meals every few hours. I make sure to always eat right after I get up, but the rest of the day isn't prefectly scheduled. I usually don't wait until I'm "hungry," (not that I'm full or anything), because when I start to feel like that I overeat. Instead, every few hours works for me.

09-11-2011, 12:02 PM
I refuse to do scheduled eating. My mother in law does that and it makes no sense to me. She eats because she knows it's time to eat. And she'll even say, "i'm not hungry, but it's time to eat." But, at the same time, she NEVER feels hunger pangs. Intuitive eating wouldn't work for her because she would forget to eat (and sometimes she does and that's a problem).

Me, on the other hand, eat when I'm hungry and eat what I feel I'm hungry for. Some days that means I eat only 1100 calories and other days it means I eat 1700 calories, but it makes sense that I'll be more hungry on some days than others and so I eat if I'm hungry and eat less if I'm not. And, it's been working for me so far on this journey.

But.. I do keep my eating on the lower carb side of things (aiming for 100 net grams of carbs or less). And my snacks (if I have them) I keep really low carb.

09-11-2011, 12:12 PM
I stink at intutive eating. I have started doing IF. and I don't eat before noon. I realized how much eating I do because I am bored. I never want to eat before lunch on work days. Even by lunch most of the time I am not really hungry (I eat because I know I will be hungry around 2pm if I don't eat lunch and I can't eat at 2.) When I eat lunch at 12, I am HUNGRY at 4, and can eat somethign light (not really hungry but enough to keep me going) around 7. This works great during the week. Weekends, not so much. I will not eat before 12 on weekends, but on days like today (don't have a lot of stuff planned, and home all morning) I feel hungry. I know I am not, I am just bored, but doesn't feel that way.

09-11-2011, 01:37 PM
I've tried intuitive eating many times, usually when I'm burned out from dieting and want to give myself permission to eat what I want. Inevitably, I fail at. After a while, it becomes like a "diet" itself--e.g., if I eat when I'm not hungry, I feel like I've failed.

I refuse to do the 5-6 mini-meals a day thing. That keeps me food-obsessed all day long, takes up too much time and energy, and makes me feel as if I never get to sit down to a satisfying meal.

Over the years, I have become more attuned to what real hunger feels like, and I usually can wait to feel that before I eat (sometimes not). I normally eat three meals a day (sometimes two) and sometimes I eat dessert.

09-11-2011, 01:44 PM
I like this q. I eat 3 meals and 2 snacks. I get hungry at times that are a little off normal. I've eaten this way for a long time, it's something I developed from WW and JC, I think (plus, grew up eating 3 meals and probably multiple snacks). I get hungry for lunch at around 11am, sometimes even a little earlier. It's fairly easy for me to wait for a 6 or 7pm dinner with an afternoon snack of an apple. so while my meals are planned, I've gravitated towards eating at the times I'm hungry.

I'm more likely to overeat if I get too hungry. at the same time, I'd rather be hungry when I eat, not eat just to eat.

09-11-2011, 02:15 PM
Well, just because it's lunchtime at 12 noon doesn't mean you HAVE to eat lunch then! By scheduled eating, I mean 2 to 3 hours between meals/snacks. No fewer than 2 and no more than 3. Often I'm not hungry after 2 hours, but I guarantee that I'll be hungry after 3, unless I ate a big meal.

It doesn't have to be either/or. :)


April Snow
09-11-2011, 02:38 PM
I do a bit of a hybrid - I have my foods for the day planned out so that I have plenty of options to eat when I am hungry and stick to on plan foods. But then I go by when I'm hungry. So I will generally have foods available for breakfast, lunch, and about 3 snacks with me at work. But I may only eat breakfast and lunch and no snacks at all that day, esp. when it's a super busy day. Or I might be very hungry one day and eat all of the things I have with me.

Most days, I do tend to eat about the same amount about the same times each day, but I think it's more that my body is used to eating on that pattern so that is when it knows to get hungry.

One thing I like about my plan is that I don't have to track how much food I eat, I just have to stick with my on plan foods. So this hybrid method works perfectly for me!

09-11-2011, 02:56 PM
My vote is eat when you are hungry, but when you are hungry EAT. Dont eat a tiny bit of food that tides you over for 15 minutes. If you are hungry eat a meal or a snack option with a good balance of nutrients.

Somedays I have 4-5 meals, today it is 11 and all I have had is coffee. I might have breakfast by lunch time.

09-11-2011, 04:08 PM
I think I'll try a hybrid like some of you suggested.

09-11-2011, 05:43 PM
I'm trying to follow Tosca Reno's version of Eating Clean, and she says you should eat every 2.5 to 3 hours. This works well for me, for a few reasons: it is kind of how my body already works anyway, and it helps keep me from binging on bad foods if I know that at this time, I need to eat these healthy foods.

In the end, you have to choose what is best for you. If more consistent eating makes you choose bad foods, then don't do that. I hope you decide what will work best!!

09-11-2011, 06:20 PM
I suppose I do a hybrid like others have suggested or toggle between the two, if that makes sense.

I tend to keep a schedule of breakfast, light snack, lunch, semi-light snack, dinner, light snack/dessert but there are some days that I have a big or filling lunch and don't need or want that 2nd snack or I'm tired so I don't have dessert because I don't want to eat that close to bedtime.

09-11-2011, 08:06 PM
I kind of do both. I really think my on/off switch is faulty, so left on my own, I would over eat, frequently. I weigh and measure to control portion size, and eat on a semi-regular schedule. Meaning, on work days, I tend to eat at planned times (have to) and on my days off, I tend to wait until I'm hungry.

I don't graze all day, though, on my days off. I will eventually get hungry and have lunch, but I might not eat lunch until much later in the day than on a typical work day. It depends. Then later, I might have a snack.

I find that eating a big lunch is working better for me than eating a smaller lunch with a planned snack later. I eat a bigger lunch now, and if I'm hungry for a snack before dinner, I have a snack. If I'm not, I don't. It saves me from the vicious hunger I sometimes get between lunch and dinner.

I eat a small breakfast, because I just don't like breakfast much, and I may or may not have a snack before lunch. It depends on hunger.

I guess my style is kind of hybrid too.

09-11-2011, 08:08 PM
When I started six months ago, I scheduled my eating times. 8, 11, 2, 5 to 8. That was because it was hard for me to trust myself. Now, I am a lot more lax and eat more a few less times a day just because it works better for me right now with my schedule.