I spend a lot of time here focusing on healthy eating and recipes, and I often include calorie counts for those who are interested in tracking their calories. But I don’t think I’ve ever talked about how eating too little can stall your weight loss efforts… and be downright dangerous. You might not equate the weight loss process with the possibility of eating too little: you should have the biggest deficit possible to lose the most weight, right?! WRONG.
A healthy deficit for losing weight is up to 1000 calories a day. A woman aiming to lose should never eat less than 1200 calories a day, and a man should stick to 1500 calories minimum. This is the safe recommended minimum to keep your body running well while still allowing you to lose weight. When I was actively losing, I rarely ate fewer than 1600 calories a day. And now that I’m basically in maintenance, I rarely eat fewer than 2,000 calories a day on average.
Even if you’re doing it unconsciously, eating too little can cause some serious health problems. If you’re eating fewer calories than your bare minimum, you probably aren’t getting the vitamins and minerals you need to keep your body functioning. Here are some signs you might be eating too little.
Are you tired all the time? Our bodies get energy from the calories in the food we eat, and we use that energy for basic and automatic bodily processes, like breathing, thinking and digestion. Eating too little can make you feel both physically and mentally exhausted, which can make each day feel harder and affect your productivity. It also affects your physical activity performance, preventing you from getting all the benefits from your workouts.
A diet imbalance caused by eating too few calories can prevent your body from obtaining the nutrients you need to maintain a healthy immune system, which could cause you to get sick more often and cause each illness to last longer. This is especially important for those with already weakened immune systems like children and the elderly.
When you eat too little, your body has less food to process into stool, which can cause your stool to harden and be difficult or painful to expel. Constipation is generally thought to mean having fewer than three bowel movements per week and can indicate a slowed metabolic rate.
Skin can be more affected and damaged by inflammation and UV exposure if you don’t consume enough of the nutrient necessary to keep skin healthy. Vitamin E, B-3 and Niacin are all important vitamins for skin health.
Have you noticed and increase of hair in the drain after you shower, or in your brush? When you eat too little, the body prioritizes its functions, and you can begin to lose hair. The body doesn’t want to waste precious calories on maintaining hair growth and follicle health, so your hair will fall out at a higher than average rate.
The hypothalmus is in charge of telling your pituitary gland to produce reproductive hormones like estrogen and progesterone. The hypothalmus is very sensitive to changes in calorie intake and weight and if the balance of reproductive hormones isn’t spot on, it can cause menstruation to be thrown off or even stop, and when this happens, it can be difficult or impossible to get pregnant.
Eating too few calories can seriously affect your mood in many different ways. When you don’t eat enough, your blood sugar can drop, causing hypoglycemia, the symptoms of which are irritability, sweating, anxiety and shakiness, etc. Have you seen those candy bar commercials where crabby people are handed a candy bar and told to eat? That could be you! Not eating enough can also cause you to feel more emotionally sensitive and a side effect of vitamin D deficiency is depression. Anxiety can also be caused by not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids, known to decrease anxiety.
Having trouble falling asleep because you’re hungry, or waking up in the middle of the night hungry is a pretty obvious sign you’re not eating enough. But it can also lead to not spending enough time in deep sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to insulin resistance and weight gain, which is the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to lose weight.
Your body needs a certain number of calories to complete all of its basic functions, and that includes keeping up your core temperature. Studies have also shown that a restrictive diet can cause a decrease in T3 thyroid hormones, which helps maintain body temperature, along with other functions.Constant HungerIf you’re always hungry, it should be pretty obvious that you’re not eating enough. But many people force themselves to ignore hunger signs in order to lose weight. Being a little hungry sometimes is okay, but low calorie intake can cause a number of problems in the hunger department, like an increase in cortisol, which is the hormone that can increase belly fat. Spending too much time hungry can also increase cravings and cause you to binge, which is the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to lose weight.
As much as I hate to admit it… winter is coming. Calgary is already getting snow, and while it’s still in the 80s in the Philadelphia area, there is a chill in the wind when it blows. I’m already dreading the cold, dark months to come, but I’m taking advantage of the cooler weather to cook some stick-to-your-ribs comfort food, like cottage pie! You may have heard of shepherd’s pie, but not cottage pie, because in the United States many places are serving cottage pie as shepherd’s pie. So what’s the difference? Traditional shepherd’s pie is made with lamb, while cottage pie is made with beef.
I’ve been reading a lot about umami lately since I’m writing an episode of my upcoming podcast about the Five Basic Tastes, and I wanted to utilize some of the knowledge I’d gained in my research. This recipe contains not just one, but FIVE sources of the revered umami: ground beef, cheddar cheese, Worcestershire sauce, mushrooms and tomato paste, which makes it intensely satisfying.
I’m pretty good at managing cooking a few different things at once, but for those of you who might not have the confidence to do so, I’m going to order this in a way that makes the most sense.
The very first thing you should do is peel and boil your potatoes until a knife stuck into the center of the largest potato slides out without catching. Drain them well, and mash with a potato masher. Add in the cheddar cheese and butter and mash through until smooth and the butter and cheese is well incorporated. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large non-stick skillet, brown 1 lb of lean ground beef until no longer pink. Scrape the ground beef into a colander and rinse with hot water. Set aside. (You don’t have to drain or rinse the beef, but it will reduce the fat content of the dish.) In the same skillet with the residue from cooking the beef, add the onions, carrots, garlic and mushrooms and cook over medium low heat until the vegetables have exuded all of their water and the carrots are tender. Add the tomato paste, bouillon cubes, Worcestershire, mushroom seasoning (I used this one) and black pepper and cook over low heat until the tomato paste has caramelized a bit, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add in the frozen peas. Mix the corn starch into a cup of cool water, and pour it into the skillet, making sure to fully dissolve the bouillon cubes. Allow to thicken for a minute then stir in the ground beef. Mix thoroughly and turn off the heat.
Spread the filling evenly in a 9″ pie plate. Spread the mashed potato mixture evenly on top, smoothing it right to the edges. Once the top is smooth, use a fork to make ridges across the top. This will help with getting little brown bits on the top. Bake for 20-30 minutes.
I suggest you allow this to sit for 5-10 minutes before digging in, as it will be like molten lava at first! The filling is rich and savory, the mashed potatoes hearty and mildly cheesy, and this cottage pie will keep you full for hours! I hope you’ll give it a go.
Hearty filling loaded with umami flavor topped with browned cheesy potatoes.
Today I want to talk about self care.
Today I am anxious. Mostly about finances, which I know logically are fine but I still worry about them. I’ll need to get a new car soon, and I’m trying to prepare for that emotionally as well as financially. My car has been paid off for several years, and a car payment as a single woman can be intimidating.
This morning I woke up with the full intention of going to the gym. I even got my workout clothes on, minus socks and shoes. But I didn’t go. Why? I wasn’t feeling up to it. Instead I decided I needed some self care today, and I stayed in and watch an episode of Maniac on Netflix. While I watch that, I gave myself a pedicure. Okay, I just painted my toenails, but sometimes that’s enough.
After Maniac was over, I cleaned myself up, put on a pretty dress and sat down at my makeup table. My allergies have been walloping me lately: autumn brings mold and spores and mold and spores brings post nasal drip and sore throats. And on days when I wake up not feeling great, either emotionally or physically, I find it helps me to dress up and put on some pretty makeup. It helps me feel more upbeat about my day if I feel like I look extra good, you know?
Some people think that women only wear makeup to cover up their real face. I think for some women this is true: they’re ashamed of their face and they want to hide their flaws under a thick coating of foundation. For me this is not the case. My skin isn’t perfect: I have forehead wrinkles I refer to as “incredulous lines” because they come out most when I’m raising my eyebrows in disbelief. I have dark spots from the bad habit I have of picking my face when I’m feeling anxious. But all of that is a part of me, and I’m okay with it.
So this morning I put on my makeup (brown, green and cream shimmer eyeshadow to match my dress), straightened my hair and got ready to face the world. I’m glad I took a photo before I went out to walk Bingley, because it’s so humid here my hair puffed right up and was no longer straight after about 5 minutes outside! No matter, I made it through the day feeling pretty and confident even though I had to throw my hair up in a bun.
I get it if you aren’t a fan of makeup, or if it stresses you out. But for me, it can put a positive spin on a stressful day, and in my book, that’s fantastic!
(All the makeup I’m wearing is Younique brand and can be purchased HERE.)