How “grazing” got me in trouble

(Let me start off by saying that if eating how I describe below (“grazing”) works for you, then by all means, keep doing it! There is no one right answer!)

I’m not exactly sure when the term became really popular, but “grazing” has made it’s way into a regular discussion about how we eat. I think it started showing up when we realized that eating 3 square meals a day wasn’t always the best option and that eating lightly and throughout the day was better for us. And up until about 6 months ago, I would have considered myself a grazer.

However, I kept running into a problem.

In an attempt to eat light and less, I actually consumed more.

In an attempt to take a more laxadazical approach to eating, it turned into an all day food-fest.

Granted, most of the food I ate still was considered “healthy”, but that doesn’t matter if you still eat more calories than you are spending!

Beautiful Animal. Beautiful Picture. But yes, horses graze!


I decided to change this and be more succinct in how I eat through the day.

Here is how I used to eat:

Breakfast: 7am

Snack 1: 8:30am

Snack 2: 11:am

Half of a Lunch: 1pm

Other Half of Lunch: 2:30pm

Snack 3: 4pm

Half Dinner: 5:30pm

Other Half of Dinner: 7:00pm

Snack 4: 8:30pm

My goodness! I ate like a small nursing, newborn! LOL!

Here’s why grazing didn’t work:

1.) I never walked away satisfied.

I can’t say that I ever left the kitchen feeling like, “Yes, I just fueled my body well for the next 2-3 hours”. I felt almost a little deprived each time which brought me back an hour or so later.

2.) It lead me to sloppy eating habits

Oh snap. Yes it did. At first, I was pretty good about grazing. I was careful about when I did it. But I found that once I became a stay at home mom and had access to food 24/7, WATCH OUT. I was a beast! It was very easy for me to get sloppy and start picking up food every 45 minutes to eat….even if it was just 5 goldfish crackers here and there.

3.) I had no good grasp of what I’d eaten for the day

Putting something–anything–in your mouth that many times in a day gets a little hard to tally unless you are actually writing it down. By the time the afternoon came, I had to really think through if I had gotten enough protein, fruits or veggies in.

4.) I consumed more calories

And this is the killer. In an attempt to eat lighter and less, I actually ate more because I never was satisfied. And because I was consuming more (and I should say, more of the wrong stuff), then I wasn’t hitting my goals.


Here is a normal day for me now: (give or take 30 min)

Breakfast: 7am

Snack: 10am

Lunch: 12pm

Snack: 3pm

Dinner: 6pm

Snack (rare): 8pm

It took me trying a new method (that got me new results) to realize that the “good” thing I had been doing, wasn’t really great! I found that having a pretty strict idea of what I was eating for the day gave me the best results.

I make sure I eat ENOUGH at one sitting and there’s no guesswork. I pretty much follow the 2-3 hour rule. (There are some fitness experts who say to do every 4-6 hours!) I do listen to my body as much as I can, as there are some days when I can feel my metabolism flying and my muscles needing fuel and others days when it’s a bit more chill.

Your turn! What works for you? Are you a grazer? A 3 square meal person? Do you plan your snacks and meals, or fly by the seat of your pants? Share below!



  1. says

    Our household eating schedule is similiar to yours (no grazing) but my snacks are more like treats. lol! For some reason the salty/sweet stuff is what I eat on a “break” and it’s my diet buster for sure. I’m working on watching those sneaky snacks that appear lowfat or I think I’m eating a small portion but then can’t stop lol! This week I’ve planned my snacks – it seems like if I have a plan I do much better than if I just go to the cupboard and eat what I feel like eating…I bought the hardboiled eggs already in a bag like you mentioned a while back on here and that has been perfect! :)
    Thanks Clare!

  2. Emily says

    I use to be a grazer, but after reading the book “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat” I’ve completely changed the way that I eat. I now wait till I am stomach hungry (not head hungry) to eat and then I eat until satisfied (not stuffed). I also keep sort of a mental list of all of my favorite (healthy) foods and I tend to eat mainly my favorites about 90% of the time. Before I was forcing myself to eat some of the healthy foods that I didn’t like because “they were good for me.” Well, there are a lot of foods out there that are good for me, so instead of forcing myself to eat the ones I don’t like, I’m trying to have a healthier relationship with food and eat the ones that I do like (that will also benefit my body). It’s amazing how once you force yourself to listen to your body and ask yourself questions, the amazing sense of peace that comes over you:
    *Am I really hungry or am I just bored/tired/upset?
    *If I am really hungry, what am I hungry for?
    *Will what I am about to eat benefit my body or will it leave me feeling yucky and guilty?
    *Am I satisfied or am I still eating because there’s food left on my plate or I feel social pressure to finish?

    Another big thing for me was realizing that we (most of us)live in a world where there is unlimited food choices. If chocolate cake is offered, it good to remember that there’s always more chocolate cake out there. If we say no to it today, odds are that we can find some tomorrow. It makes it easier to say no to the bad stuff when you realize that you’ll always have the opportunity to have it another day. Just because you say no today doesn’t mean that you’re saying no forever.

    Whoops, I went off on a tangent at some point, lol. Anyway, my point was supposed to be :) that I’ve found that I have the best results when I: listen to my stomach, not my head; eat what makes me happy and nourishes my body; and eat till satisfied, not stuffed.

  3. Shonda says

    I’m a grazer. I have been so relaxed in my schedule this summer and I’m really trying to get more organized. My kids are on a good schedule, but I’m not! I also need to make better choices in my food. I try to keep track on MyFitness Pal, but I feel like I’m on the computer so much anyway, I don’t do that. I don’t have a phone with apps either.

  4. Christy says

    I’ve been following your current plan for about 6 years now and it works great for me! I started following this plan when I started my weight lose journey and then when I discovered I had hypoglycemia I stuck with it. I definitely like having set times (give or take) to eat as a stay at home mom because it keeps me from being sloppy. Also now that my son is old enough to see what mommy is eating I tend to eat healthier because he wants to eat whenever I do and whatever I do. Talk about a good motivator to stay healthy!

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