My mom goes through weight loss fads like a child devouring Halloween candy. Giving up sugar (she's tried this at least three times by now), giving up meat, giving up dairy, giving up wheat, intermittent fasting — the list goes on. Each fad is a new one for her to taste and toss out when she's tired of it, so most of these attempts never last.
I remember a claim my mom made when I was at home for spring break during my second year of university. We were discussing food and health.
"I'm going to try to stop eating meat, dairy, and wheat by the time you come back home for summer," she said. I laughed. She wanted to become gluten-free and almost vegan in three months. I wasn't fooled. It was an unrealistic idea (and, not surprisingly, she didn't accomplish it).
Last summer, however, my mom read a book that recounted a woman's interviews with skinny girls, girls who never struggled with their weight, to learn what they do that keeps them thin. My mom would share with me some of the tips and information in the book that the author discovered from these girls.
The most helpful statement I have ever heard regarding weight loss came from this book: Eat when you're hungry.
Hearing my mom say it, I felt like I experienced a life revelation and came out a new person. I couldn't believe I had to hear this from an external source to realize, "That's the disconnect I, and my mom, have had for years." I almost felt ashamed I couldn't figure it out on my own. It's so simple but so true and it makes so much sense.
Food is fuel for your body. Until you can view food that way, you will never have a healthy relationship with food.
Dieticians and health experts like to make varying claims about what to eat and when to eat: Eat three meals a day, snacking is bad, meat is healthy and you need to eat it, make sure one quarter of your plate is vegetables, another quarter should be fruit, no you should actually eat two snacks a day, no actually meat isn't necessary for your body to function and might not be as healthy as we once thought.
In the end, none of these claims matter. There are varying sources that disagree with each other and requirements in the food pyramid change too often for claims like these to be perfectly stable.
Yes, eating healthy is important. Don't stuff your body with manufactured fake food all the time. But you don't need to police your stomach on how often it should be digesting food. If your body isn't craving food, why are you trying to feed it?
I haven't eaten three full-fledged meals a day since I was in elementary school. My body doesn't get hungry often enough for me to need three full meals a day. This is something that will be different for every person.
Eat when you're hungry. It's a difficult adjustment when you've spent your life eating when you want rather than when you need food. I still stress eat. Cultivating a healthy relationship with food won't happen overnight. It requires diligence and time, lots of time.