Sometimes a patient tells me she had only a salad for dinner. Or, even more puzzling: A green smoothie.
I could never do that. I’m tired at the end of the day. I’m hungry. I need a substantial dinner such as roast chicken with potatoes, vegetables, and butter. I honestly cannot imagine sitting down with just a cold green salad.
I don’t think I’m different from other women. Women get hungry. Women need food.
Hunger is healthy
I’m disturbed by how our culture portrays dieting and low appetite as a desirable trait in a woman. When a man has a hearty appetite, it’s a sign of virility and strength. Yet, when a woman has a hearty appetite, it’s a character flaw. We hear things like: “She eats like a bird,” and that’s supposed to be a good thing. I reject that. Hunger is normal, natural, and healthy—even for a woman!
Dinner should be nourishing
A roast chicken dinner is just one idea. You could also have fish and rice, lamb and sweet potato, or any number of yummy combinations. The important thing is that you eat all three macronutrients: Protein, fat, and starch. You need them for satiety, and you need them for other jobs. For example, protein support muscles and signals circadian rhythm. Fat delivers fat-soluble nutrients. Finally, starch feeds healthy intestinal bacteria, activates thyroid hormone, and promotes relaxation, sleep, and ovulation.
But wait: Didn’t you read somewhere that you shouldn’t eat potatoes? I invite you to forget that. Seriously. The carbs that are bad for health are sugar (because it causes insulin resistance) and wheat (because it causes inflammation for some people). Other starches such as rice, potatoes, and sweet potatoes are good for hormones.
Your hormones need dinner
Why dinner? Two reasons. 1) Because it will calm and soothe you at the end of the day. 2) Because that is probably when you are most hungry. If you don’t fill up with dinner, you may end up snacking later in the evening, and then feel ashamed of your “binge” or “lack of willpower.” It’s not a binge or a lack of willpower. You were simply hungry because you didn’t get enough to eat with dinner.
Restaurant meals can contain too much sugar and vegetable oil and are not as healthy as home-cooked meals. As much as you can, please try to cook at home. It doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Pop a whole chicken into the oven with potatoes. Or steam a pot of rice and have that with fried fish or canned fish. And, of course, it’s easy to quickly steam some greens to have on the side!
If you live with someone, ask them to take their turn at cooking. If you live alone, make time to pre-prepare meals, and then freeze them.
Trust your hunger
Think of your hunger as something good. Something healthy. Explore your hunger by fully enjoying your meals, and by eating more if and when you feel like it. And by not feeling guilty about it!
As long as you stick to healthy, whole foods, you will be fine.
High-dose fructose (dates, agave, honey) causes insulin resistance, so please avoid desserts. You can, however, have less sweet dessert-type foods such as whole fruit or dark chocolate (two squares of 85% cocoa chocolate contain only 1.3 grams fructose).