It’s easy to see how the idea of working with structured meals for weight loss (i.e. eating at regular times and starting with a base quantity and balance, like the Green Mountain Plate Model) could get confused with dieting, if one forgets about permission and flexibility. If I use a Plate Model or standard portion sizes to put together my dinner every night and I never deviate from that quantity and balance, then I would be using it as a diet tool. Some nights I may be really hungry and that Plate Model may not be enough. Other nights I might not have much of an appetite but I follow the Plate Model anyway, thus overeating in that situation.
When we discuss mindful eating or normal eating at Green Mountain, we always like to point out that this eating pattern is flexible. Diets are usually far from flexible. If you are working with any guideline and being rigid about it, it might as well be a diet. We may start with a base amount of food that has worked well for us in the past, but we must not forget about paying attention to how we feel when we eat. If 3/4 of my meal is gone and I’m feeling full; it’s OK to stop there. If my entire meal is gone and I’m still quite dissatisfied, I probably need to add something to that meal.
There are plenty of things that can change our appetite from day to day, or week to week. Activity, sleeping patterns, stress response, the type of foods we eat, hormonal fluctuation, and even season of the year are just a few things that you may find influence your appetite. Being flexible and in touch with what our bodies are telling us helps us to make modifications and keep structured eating from turning into a diet.
Are you flexible with your meals/snacks? What do you find can really cause a shift in your appetite?