When patients come to my office for nutritional and diet advice, one of the first things I tell them is to eat at least five small balanced meals throughout their day. Inevitability, this dietary suggestion is met with groans and complaints of not enough time in the day to fulfill this request. My response is one of education and empowerment, one which I will share with you now.
The real question here is not “How can I find the time in my day to eat five small balanced meals?” but really, “How can I NOT make the time to fuel my body properly with five small balanced meals throughout the day?” This real question becomes apparent when you look at the “why” behind eating five small balanced meals per day.
When you eat food (recipes), your blood sugar or blood glucose levels rise. Insulin is secreted by your body in response to food in the digestive system. As time passes, insulin drives glucose into the body’s cells and out of the blood stream. Both insulin and glucose levels decrease. This simplified version of the process takes place each time food in consumed and is considered to be a normal and healthy function of the digestive system.
This process can become unhealthy when an individual consumes 2 or 3 larger meals a day and fasts for four or more hours in between meals. Eating in this manner, allows blood sugar and insulin levels to spike very high after the meal is consumed and drop very low after several hours of fasting. This can result in hypoglycemia or low blood glucose levels. Symptoms of hypoglycemia can be irritability, confusion, hunger, sweating, and palpitations to name a few. Ideally, it is advantageous for insulin and glucose levels to remain relatively steady throughout the day. Eating five smaller meals throughout the day minimizes the high spikes and low drops in glucose and insulin levels. In addition to avoiding symptoms of hypoglycemia, smaller meals help to decrease cravings or mood swings. Smaller meals also help you to avoid overeating at mealtime.
Eating five small meals can actually be easily incorporated into your lifestyle. Live Lean Today’s meal plans take you through setting up a successful weekly menu that you can live with. Join LIVE and let eating throughout the day and burning fat become easy.
Empowered by the “why” of eating five small meals a day, you may feel more motivated to put this into practice. Since most of us are active, have busy lives, and are always on the go, what solutions exist to assist us in reaching the daily goal of consuming five small meals per day? The best solution I have found is the Optimal Meal Formula shakes. Two scoops are mixed in 10-12oz of water. This quick and easy meal formula is best used between meals as a snack.
Remember that eating five small meals per day will help to stabilize your blood glucose and insulin levels, decrease craving, decrease mood swings, help prevent overeating, and, best of all, keep you on track to achieving your health and fitness goals!
Dr. Melissa Dawahare, NMD, RN, is a licensed primary care physician who treats people with naturopathic medicine and shamanism in Tempe, Arizona. You may reach her via www.drmelissa.com.