- When you eat- every three hours or so
- What you eat- a balanced mix of protein, fat, and complex carbs
When to eat
Eat small amounts every few hours throughout the day. If you go for many hours without eating you are more likely to overeat once you do get some food. This is because your blood sugar is very low, and your cells are sending signals to your brain to put something in your mouth- fast! This can lead to hasty food choices, eating too fast, and ignoring signals that you are full. Doing that everyday can lead to weight gain and a grumpy disposition.
For most people three small meals and two snacks evenly spaced throughout the day is best. In my experience many people endure a lot of hungry hours between lunch and dinner, so make sure you get in an afternoon snack!
What to eat
A balanced meal or snack should contain three elements:
- A protein source
- A small amount of fat
- A carbohydrate source that is fiber-rich
We need each of these ingredients to feel full and avoid blood sugar extremes. Some examples of snacks that meet these guidelines include:
- Apple slices with nut butter
- Fresh cut vegetables with hummus
- Tuna salad on whole grain crackers
- Oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts
- Beans and quinoa with olive oil dressing
- Smoothie with Greek yogurt and frozen fruit
For a visual template to design your meals and snacks, you can download a pdf of a Healthy Plate model here.