Eat When You're Supposed To (and Snack Very Little!)

September 30, 2013

Today, we eat all the time, munching on snacks, convenience foods, or sipping lattes, sodas or smoothies at every hour of the day.
It’s a fact. Just take a look around yourself.
We eat while driving or riding in a car or walking or at our desks or while watching TV. We are snacking more and eating fewer meals.
We do so little eating at the table that sociologists and market researchers - who study American eating habits - report that we have added to the traditional big three meals (i.e., breakfast, lunch and dinner) a fourth one that lasts all day long: the constant snacking meal.
Snacks are less and less the hunger-soothing bridge between formal meals. They have become a meal in their own right.
As a result, we eat much more food than we need and we're gaining weight at an alarming rate.
We’re a nation of overweight and obese people, because we eat too often, not only too much.
The solution? Going back to our roots — eating only at designated meal times and limit snacking.
It’s OK to feel hungry between meals. However, being hungry doesn’t mean you have to eat.
If it isn’t breakfast, lunch or dinner, always ask yourself: “Am I really hungry?
Maybe you’re just bored, tired, distracted, sad, or happy. Try to understand what you’re really feeling before you grab something to eat.

Eat When You're Supposed To (and Snack Very Little!)

How often we should eat can be pretty confusing.
We’ve all heard about the concept of ‘grazing’ — or eating five to six smaller meals over the course of the day to keep your metabolism revved.
Grazing in theory makes sense, but in practice people eating this way often end up eating more, and eating more processed food.
In addition, recent studies show that noshing often doesn’t provide much of an impact on calorie burning; and there’s also evidence that smaller meals may provide less high-quality nutrients if compared to bigger ones.
Grazing can be okay - I’m certainly not against it - as long as it’s not done mindlessly. But in my experience scheduling and prepping 6 small meals a day is not an easy task.
So, what’s the sweet spot? Eat when you’re supposed to.
A hearty breakfast, medium lunch, a lighter dinner and one small snack - either in the morning or in the afternoon - depending on your schedule and the timing of lunch and dinner.
This strategy proves to be the best because meal sizes are large enough so that you can eat high-quality, nutrient-dense foods that make you feel satisfied and fueled for longer.
When snacking, try to limit yourself to fruits, veggies, nuts (in small quantities) or something light and nutritious such as a yogurt.
Remember: A desk is not a table; and neither is your car, your sofa or your armchair.
When we eat while we’re working, or driving or watching TV, we eat mindlessly, and end up eating a lot more than we would if we were eating at a table, paying attention to what we’re doing.


  1. Hubby and I changed our eating habits about 9 years ago from the "grab and go" approach ... the initial couple weeks was challenging, but once we experienced the difference a satiating breakfast, sensible lunch and dinner made, we're in the groove and wouldn't consider any other way. We truly even find it difficult to find room for an occasional dessert in our dietary approach. If someone really wants to change a eating habit they may have to consider who they are around during the day and how that person eats; if you're surrounded by grazers and the food is available, its even more difficult to say no. And why does any meeting lasting longer than an hour now "require" a danish tray be available? ... society is reinforcing this behavior at every turn.

  2. This is actually so true. Thanks for the remainder!

  3. It works out for me too, eating a filling breakfast - it helps me to eat less during the next meals. And adding to it, thinking of what to eat healthy for 5 meals a day would be too much for me! :P

  4. I needed to read this today. I am such a grazer, then again I love to sit down and eat too.
    I completely agree on a good breakfast.