To answer ‘yes’ to this question is certainly not unusual given we’ve been led to believe that we must eat regularly to keep up our metabolism.
But is this even true? According to Dr Jason Fung, author of ‘The Obesity Code’, it’s not.
It’s a diet fallacy.
A diet dogma that, for years, has never sat well with me either. It just never felt right. Never made sense.
Truth always makes sense, whereas fallacies don’t.
Historically, we would never have eaten this way. As hunter and gatherers, we would never have had unlimited access to food in the way that we do today.
Even if we go back just 50-years, very few people were overweight, and obesity was pretty much non-existent.
Back then the Keto diet didn’t exist, nor the Paleo and if you mentioned the words “clean eating or FODMAP” I’m sure people would have looked at you as though you had two heads!
So why was this? Why were few people overweight decades ago?
One notable difference is that people did not eat all of the time. Unlike so many of us today – especially when working 24/7.
Of course, weight gain is multifactorial.
There is no one single cause.
However eating continually, especially highly refined and processed foods which spike blood sugar levels, contributes to abnormally high levels of insulin.
Given insulin is a fat-storage hormone, we can see how over time, this can lead to excess body fat and weight gain.
In a nutshell, we want to minimise hormonal imbalances if we’re wanting to maintain a healthy weight, and too much insulin is one of them.
How do we do keep our blood sugar and insulin levels in check?
1. Be conscious of boredom/habitual eating. If you’re not hungry – then don’t eat. There’s no hard and fast rule saying “You must eat three times a day with snacks in between every day, for the rest of your life!”
Having multiple meals (especially those which contain a lot of refined carbohydrates and sugars) will cause a glucose spike in your blood up to 6 times a day, depending on how often you’re snacking along with your 3 meals a day.
I know this can be a bit tricky when on shifts as you don’t know when you’re going to get another opportunity to eat, but start tuning into your body. Really listen to it. Don’t overeat if you’re not hungry.
2. Reduce consumption of food containing added sugars. This is a biggie as sugar has the greatest impact on stimulating blood sugar and subsequently, insulin levels.
Unfortunately sugar is ubiquitous in most refined and processed foods as there are a plethora of names under it’s disguise. Breakfast cereals and store-bought muesli bars are some of the worst offenders so if you swap these out with something home-made from scratch you’ll be well under way to controlling your insulin levels. For some low-sugar brekky ideas Click Here.
3. Up your intake of whole foods. According to a report published in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2014-15), a staggering 5% of adults are eating sufficient amounts of fruit and vegetables.
This is mind boggling to say the least.
Whole fruits and vegetables contain fibre which is essential for not only helping to reduce things like constipation (very common amongst shift workers), but to help improve satiety levels or those feelings of fullness so we’re less likely to want to eat every 2-3 hours in the first place.
At the end of the day we want to set ourselves up for success. Make things as easy as possible for ourselves because let’s face it, it’s no easy feat working 24/7!
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2018, ‘Australia’s Health – Fruit and vegetable intake’, Australian Bureau of Statistics 2014-15.
Ebrahim, A and Fredericks, S 2017, ‘Working irregular shift patterns is associated with functional constipation amongst healthy trainee nurses’, Gastroenterology Insights, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 32-34.
Fung, J 2016, ‘The Obesity Code’, Scribe Publications, London.
Kolb, H, Stumvoll, M, Kramer, W, Kempf, K & Martin, S 2018, ‘Insulin translates unfavourable lifestyle into obesity’, BMC Medicine, vol. 16, no. 232.