By Melanie Stewart
How many times a day do you eat, or think you should eat? Are you worried that if you skip breakfast your metabolism will slow down? Do you think it’s important to snack throughout the day to keep that metabolism going? Well, this might come as a surprise, but thanks in large part to some really great encouragement from the snack-food industry, most Americans don’t eat too much, we eat too often. Meal frequency can play a huge role in weight loss, athletic performance, health, healing and chronic promotion of diseases. In fact, eating 5 to 7 times per day, 3 to 4 meals, and 2 to 3 snacks, can terrorize metabolism and hormonal balance.
Maybe you were taught that frequent eating is necessary to keep your blood sugar levels in range or needed to raise your metabolism. As it turns out, an increase in meal frequency of 5-7 times a day does neither of these things but can drive oxidative stress, inflammation, insulin resistance, weight gain, hormonal imbalance and hunger. Further, it can push off one’s natural hormonal cascade into the evening, disrupting sleep and eliminating valuable detoxification mechanisms.
How about calorie counting? Truth is, the calorie dogma does not perfectly apply to the human body because we don’t have a closed linear system, (law of thermodynamics) but rather have an open dynamic system. Also, not all calories are equal in yield (total AFTER digestion). Full utility of energy eaten vs. stored or eliminated changes throughout the day, depends on the texture of the food, the speed at which it is eaten, the amount of toxins in it and the overall condition of the gut and bacterial balance. Refined and/or soft, easy-to-eat foods net more calories than those that require more chewing. Foods yield more energy to the body in the afternoon and evening and change when you are happy and relaxed vs. stressed and tired. The more net calories you yield, the more you potentially can wear as fat. And all of this can be compounded by lack of beneficial exercise and quality sleep as well as non-organic and/or GMO foods that disrupt the microbiome.
And finally, consider insulin. Too often one doesn’t give the body the opportunity to clear insulin before the next batch is released. This is particularly detrimental at night as it makes weight loss even more difficult while making weight gain SUPER easy.
You should choose to avoid counting whether it’s calories, macros, or points because it can be difficult, is likely to be inaccurate, and it diminishes the joy of eating. Instead, consider food, exercise and even beverages to be celebrations in life! Exercise is a celebration of movement, strength and growth that not only improves physical appearance; it improves state of mind. A glass of red wine? Well, that’s a celebration of the first recorded miracle! Not to mention, it’s an asset in disease prevention. And every meal provides the opportunity for creating something beautiful, healing, nourishing and delicious. To get started, try incorporating the following suggestions:
- Eat REAL food
- Include healthy fats
- Reduce or cut Insulin producing foods
- Eat 3 times a day and skip the grazing. It’s okay to feel hungry!
- Eliminate toxins
- Engage in beneficial exercise
- Prioritize sleep
Melanie Stewart has written 2 books for children (Yum Tum, Good Food is Fun! and Yum Tum, We Get it Done!) and one for adults (Yum Tum For Everyone!) all available on Amazon or at: https://www.yumtumnutrition.com/ All content is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech laws. It’s not meant to give individual medical advice or to make any health claims on the prevention or curing of diseases.