I used to have a one-track mind regarding this topic- always favoring snacking. But after more research and experience, I have come to realize that both are right! The key? Find out which works best for you and then learn how to do it right.
Having a snack or two during the day (assuming it’s a healthy one) is ideal for many. Snacking keeps blood sugar levels even, allowing us to feel in control and energized throughout the day- especially crucial for those with low blood sugar (hypoglycemic) tendencies. Furthermore, having a healthy snack in the afternoon can prevent over eating in the evening. But this doesn’t mean we should snack our way through the day writing it off as healthy “grazing”. To give our digestive systems the proper rest and relaxation needed after eating, wait at least two hours between every meal and snack (three to four is better). A nice daily rhythm for this may be: breakfast around 8, lunch around 12, snack around 3, and dinner at 6 or 7.
On the flip side, three square meals can work great for others. Think of the French… they have never been snackers. Historically they have held each and every meal in reverence, striven to keep meals balanced, do not worry about eating too much fat, and admonish the notion of snacking- much less doing it at their desk or behind the wheel. Allowing more time in between meals truly gives the digestive system plenty of time to rest. As a bonus, it may even help increase fat-burning and anti-aging, something most all of us desire. You may in fact be doing a mini “cleanse” between meals. Again though, this is assuming the food intake for all three meals is healthy and balanced. A nice daily rhythm for this may be: breakfast around 8, lunch around 12 or 1, and dinner at 6 or 7.
I encourage experimenting when it comes to finding which “mode of operation” you do best with. And keep in mind one critical key for either one you chose--- relaxation. Take your time with meals and snacks to help your body get into the necessary mode for proper digestion and elimination all while supporting your adrenals (our stress handling organs). So switch off the TV or computer and put down your cell phone. Try eating with others on a regular basis and looking at your food more often- both help draw us into the present moment and send the right signals to our bodies and brain allowing food to be digested properly and stress-free. Finally, if you are concerned about weight management, I encourage a regular rule of no eating past 7pm. Eliminating snacking after this hour helps your body have a full 12+ hours of fasting to not only give those hard-working organs a break, but also give your body a chance to chip away at unwanted fat stores. This may be challenging for many, but giving yourself permission to have those evening foods you are craving as soon as you wake up the next day, can be a helpful tactic. So, find out your ideal eating rhythm and then practice slooooowing things down for better enjoyment and better health!
Certified Nutritionist &
Registered Yoga Instructor