You’d think that after years of eating, you would have learned a thing or two about munching down on food by now. However, there is one myth that still clouds many a dining room. I’m talking about the one that says you should only eat three times a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner and not eat in between.
If you’re in the habit of eating only three times per day and think that you are eating for optimum health, you’d be absolutely WRONG! Eating only three times a day is anything but the right way to go about feeding your body, and you’ll actually be surprised at how complex eating really is.
The human body is a magnificent piece of biological machinery that relies on food for fuel in order to keep it going. So, as I’m sure you already know, food is needed for energy. Throughout the day your body uses this energy for daily functioning and to help it perform during exercise and activities. However, unlike a car, you cannot fill your body with fuel (food) until the “tank” is completely full. You need to give it a constant, steady supply of nutrients throughout the day. So instead of three ‘square’ meals per day, break those down into six smaller sized portions and eat every two to three hours.
Now before you get carried away, don’t think that this is your ticket to food freedom where you can chomp down on all the burgers, cookies and fried, fatty foods you want. Eating unhealthy, fatty food will not benefit you in any way, no matter which way you look at it. When I say eat six times a day, I certainly don’t mean eating all the junk food you can possibly shove into your mouth. I’m talking about feeding your body with lean proteins such as chicken, fish, lean beef, as well as wholesome, unprocessed, natural carbohydrates such as your fruit and veggies, sweet potatoes and brown/whole wheat rice, as well as a little fat. You can use the formula below to determine exactly how to split up your plate and get in all the nutrients your body needs for optimal functioning.
When you eat a big meal and don’t burn it off, your body ends up with an excess of food and more “fuel” than it needs. During this time, your body sends a signal to the brain, telling it that more insulin is needed. Insulin helps to regulate your blood sugar levels and an overproduction of insulin leads to feelings of lethargy (hence the reason you feel tired after a big Sunday lunch), but on a more serious note, an overproduction of insulin can also lead to weight gain and possibly even diabetes.
These excess calories that you shoved into your mouth do not get burned up because you’re parking off on the couch watching football, so your body now stores these excess calories for later use. This in return means that your body is storing fat and you are ultimately gaining weight.
The trick to keeping your body and energy levels sustained and keeping the weight loss at bay is taking your three square meals (remember breakfast, lunch and dinner) and breaking them down into smaller portions of six. So, at the end of the day you are getting in the same amount of food, just at a slower, steadier pace which will benefit your body, boost your metabolism and stop the cycle of uncontrollable weight gain.
Eating healthy and for optimal nutrition is not something that will happen overnight. Remember, for many years you’ve been feeding your body a certain way and have developed a habit of eating that way. Although habits are hard to break, with discipline and consistency you can change the way you eat and never have to worry about dieting again. Make healthy eating part of your every day life. Go to a bookshop and stock up on healthy food recipes. You’ll be surprised at how many healthy meals you can cook up that are just as satisfying as eating out at your favorite takeout joint.
Another important factor to remember is not to skip out on meals either. Just because you are eating less, doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need those nutrients. Make mealtimes a priority and plan your meals in advance. Set reminders on your cell phone, in your diary or on your PC and make sure you eat when it’s time to eat. Prepare your meals in advance and if you just “can’t make that much food,” try finding a meal replacement shake that is balanced in lean protein, carbohydrates and has a small amount of unsaturated fat. There is also a wide range of nutritious bars that can help make life a little easier. Just remember: bars can also contain loads of sugar, which is not ideal in your path to weight loss success.
Eating regularly and sustaining your blood sugar levels will make you feel better, not only because your body is now being fueled instead of just fed, but you will look better, have more energy and enjoy life. You probably won’t have to go on diet to shape up for summer and look and feel your best all year round. Now doesn’t that sound more tempting than any junk food on the planet?
Use this formula to help you determine your ideal portion sized meals:
- Before we start, it is a good idea to determine your portion size. Each person has his/her own unique portion size, based on his/her body. In order to determine yours, simply clench your fist or use the palm of you hand (without fingers) as a guide. That is your unique portion — compare it to foods and you’re on your way to successful eating.
- Next, you will need to divide your plate up into four sections.
- Take one half and fill it with lean protein such as skinless, boneless chicken breast, lean mince, skinless hake, salmon, or turkey breast.
- Fill the next quarter with plain vegetables (i.e. without cream or dressing) and go for options such as steamed broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans or a mixed salad with lettuce, cucumber and tomato.
- Next, fill just less than one quarter with low glycemic, wholesome carbohydrates such as brown or basmati rice, sweet potato or whole wheat bread.
- The remaining bit can be used for your unsaturated fats such as olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, olives or almonds etc.