How many meals do you eat a day? I was having a conversation this morning at a networking meeting. The topic of meals came up in conversation. A lady across from me asked the person sitting next to her how many meals she ate daily. The response was ‘three’. She told her that her nutritionist highly recommended five small meals.
I couldn’t resist. I am a bit of a health evangelist. I asked why are five meals a day better than three, or two or one meal a day? She didn’t have a good answer. She was told by someone in authority that is was good to eat many small meals daily.
I did a little research before writing to determine what is being said in the various studies. Here are the highlights of my quick review of more than six references.
Don’t have time to eat a large meal, so we snack more often.
Large meals interfere with digestion.
Large meals cause bloating.
Large meals cause loss of energy.
Large meals cause an increase in blood sugar.
People eat the same total foods when eating six or seven times a day
Eating smaller meals is healthier.
Larger meals mean you eat more carbohydrates and less fat.
People eating smaller meals eat better and weigh less.
Eating fewer meals means you eat more just before bedtime.
Eating larger meals means you will have a larger BMI.
Eating more often means you eat lower calorically dense foods
Eating more often means you stave off hunger.
Eating more often means you control blood sugar better.
Waiting longer between meals means you eat more.
Eating breakfast is absolutely important.
Eating six meals a day in a study showed a 5% decrease in cholesterol.
Best to eat 4-5 meals because there is no risk of obesity.
Eating three or fewer meals a day increases the risk of obesity.
Eating six or more meals a day increases the risk of obesity.
I have one word to answer the twenty points made by the various literature – bunk!
Why do we eat? We eat to satisfy our bodily needs; and, to be healthy. We want to live a long life and enjoy it greatly, especially in our senior years. What do the scientists tell us to do to meet the criteria of living longer with fewer age-related diseases? Cut way back on calories, balance our nutrition and fast intermittently.
Caloric restriction in animals shows in an increase of 30% in their lifespan – spread over many different species. Intermittent fasting greatly increases your body’s production of human growth hormone which is critical to maintaining exceptional health.
Eating every few hours when awake does not allow the body to completely heal and restore itself. This is especially true if you are eating foods with a lot of toxins. Your liver is constantly challenged to filter and eliminate toxins. It can’t finish its job before the next round of food comes rolling in.
Eastern philosophy says to eat when you are hungry. They consider breakfast unnecessary. I don’t eat breakfast, well, maybe rarely. I rarely eat before noon and almost never after six p.m. I want to fast at least eighteen hours daily.
I find that hunger and thirst are nearly identical. I find that people who eat often don’t have balanced nutrition in mind when they select their foods to eat during the day. I find that there are many myths being perpetuated in our society that don’t live up to the true measure of long-term healthy living.