A hospital orderly, 33-year old Thomas has a physically demanding job. He is at work by 7:00 a.m. He has a long rush hour commute each morning so he doesn’t have time for breakfast. Coffee is available on each unit when he gets to work and that’s all he has until his lunch break at 1:30 PM.
Thomas often misses lunch because he is busy, which doesn’t bother him because he figures he needs to lose weight anyway. If he has time, he goes to the cafeteria with a co-worker for lunch, but the fare isn’t very appetizing to him. He usually has two yogurts and a Coke, maybe some French fries. At break time, Thomas slips out to the vending machines for candy bars, even though he knows they aren’t good for him By this time he’s aware that he is very hungry. Typically, Thomas stops on the way home after work at another fast food restaurant, and orders two double cheeseburgers, a large fries with a large soda. Still hungry later, Thomas cooks a frozen pizza, and has chips and dip and beer as he watches TV. Ice cream is always ready in the freezer. Thomas is 70 pounds overweight.
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This is a pattern so common that it universally promotes weight gain in even the most dedicated gym member. It’s easier to go hungry earlier in the day: You are well rested. Your work environment is more stimulating than the lunchroom and not as conducive to eating as evening at home. It’s just easier to drink pop, coffee or water and pass up the lunch and snacks—breakfast too. Hunger in this pattern is usually mild until mid afternoon and then it tends to become more demanding. By the time you get to dinner, you are famished and needing big or second helpings.
When overweight people aren’t actually dieting, many try to avoid food, even subconsciously. Like Thomas, they usually skip breakfast because they are still full from overeating the night before, or they are simply not hungry, or they can tolerate hunger better when they are not tired, or they want to skip the calories, or they don’t have time to eat. They might skip lunch too, or eat something light, especially if they are with other people. For many overweight and obese people, eating in front of other people is uncomfortable. They may feel as if they don’t deserve to be eating food, in light of how fat they are.
In the rebound phase, overweight people indulge their appetites and cravings, in private and/or in public. If they eat in public, this is the time when their reputation for overeating is observed and often quietly judged. Research has shown that overweight people, on the whole, eat less than people of normal weight. But this is not true during the rebound phase. Overeating and choosing rich, fat-producing foods are the hallmarks of any dieter in rebound.