Throughout most of the past decade, the idea of “3 meals a day” was widely accepted and practiced by a majority of American households. You ate a breakfast of maybe toast and eggs, a sandwich packed for lunch and you would sit down to a dinner that focused on protein as the star, with a vegetable and a starch in the supporting role. Perhaps a dessert would accompany that dinner, but for the most part, it was those three meals that shaped the day.
Now much of what we see supports the idea of several smaller “meals” a day or 3 small meals and 2 snacks throughout the day as opposed to the traditional 3 large meals. The reason behind this recommendation stems from the idea that eating more often is necessary to keep your metabolism working all day long. If you wait too long in between meals you will likely get too hungry and then eat too much. When one gets too hungry, they also are likely to make the wrong food choices and it takes a greater amount of food to rev up the metabolism.
When it comes to meals versus snacks, like most things in nutrition, balance is the key. Creating balanced, smaller meals interspersed with healthy filling snacks is the key to staying comfortably full and satiated throughout the day. By planning your meals and snacks in advance, you will find yourself having an easier time saying no to unplanned foods that pop up throughout the day because your hunger is tamed.
For a guide to planning meals and snacks, take a look at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics new graphic called MyPlate which can be found at: www.choosemyplate.gov. The site explains how to fashion each meal so it has all the necessary nutrition components for optimal health.
For creating healthy snacks, remember to have them include carbohydrates, fat, and protein in a balanced ratio and plenty of filling fiber to keep you satiated until meal time. For example, hummus and vegetables, or fruit and Greek yogurt are excellent, nutritious snacks.
For help with meal planning for weight loss or to manage a medical condition, click here.
Time to take action: Please comment below and let me know which team are you on: meals or snacks?