There is a fourth component of our metabolism that I didn’t mention previously, as it is the component that we don’t have any control over. Our genetics make up about 5% of our metabolism. A small component, but it does explain/account for some of the inherent differences among us. There is some really interesting research on infants that show these metabolic differences. The reason that I mention this now is that it is an important piece of the puzzle when we are learning to trust our bodies signals. It is also good to remember that we are all different.
Personally, I have a pretty speedy metabolism… I think. Actually, I should say that I was born with a high metabolism. Weight gain was never a problem for me growing up, I have always eaten when I was hungry and stopped when satisfied, and have always been a normal weight. Funny anecdote though…this self regulating I did was the bane of dinnertime for my father. He was raised in the “clean your plate” era, and therefore so was I! However, as a teenager, when holding dessert over my head didn’t work any longer, I would eat exactly what I wanted and stop when done. Generally what this meant was that there would be literally one bite of each food item left on my plate (a tiny piece of roll, one bite of chicken, a broccoli floweret), and my dad would go ballistic! “Oh for heaven’s sake Julie, just eat it, it is one blame bite!”. “But I’m not hungry anymore, and I don’t want it”, I would say. We’d go back and forth until finally he would stick his fork over on my plate and snatch it up himself…not that he was hungry either, but he couldn’t stand the waste. I must say that he has gotten much better about that…I think he reconciled with the “waste” issue by feeding it to the dogs and making them fat!
Anyway, the reason I share that, is because it gives a small glimpse into how even one tiny piece of history, genetics, personality, and/or interpersonal dynamics can affect our relationship with food. If I had a different genetic metabolism or a different personality, then that dinnertime dynamic could have ended very differently for me. Food is so much more that biology, and fixing so called food issues takes commitment, and multi-disciplinary approaches. No quick, one size fits all fixes!
When we solely trust numbers and ideals, while disregarding what our body is telling us things can tend to get jumbled up, and our attempts at balancing food, fitness, happiness, and life together may suffer. Another personal example, and then I sign off for today!
I’ve had three healthy pregnancies and babies. I ate A LOT when I was pregnant, but I was hungry! If I tried to lay off a little I felt more hungry…and crazy! So, I just stuck to my old faithful routine of eating when hungry and stopping when satisfied. Even though the scale steadily ticked upward past the recommended 25 pound weight gain…way past, I kept on trusting my body and being happy. Anyway, when it was all said and done, I gained 45 pounds with each and every baby, and my pre-pregnancy weight was exactly the same with each and every baby (which is also the same weight I am now). My three children weighed 7lbs. 4oz., 7lbs.2oz., and 7lbs.3oz., in that order. Something tells me that 45 pounds is just exactly what my body needed to make my three little people.
So while 25 pounds may be a good ballpark number to give to a pregnant woman as “what to expect”, it is not a number by which to gage all intake and output decisions. In all scenarios there must be a balance between our bodies signals, good nutrition knowledge/decisions, our schedule, our lives, etceteras.