That is the question I have been thinking about for the past few days. There are so many different opinions out there on this topic. Some say that if you eat the proper meals (and whether that is three or two also depends on who you are listening to) at breakfast, lunch and dinner, that you should be able to fuel your body without snacking. Another school of thought on this is that if you eat smaller meals five times a day that this can help regulate sugar and cravings.
In order to answer this question I started to do a little research. I found an interesting article on snacking at the European Food Information Council (EUFIC). It discusses snacking or BMEE (Between Meal Eating Episodes – love it :)) and why people snack and the effect of snacking on health. A couple of points I thought were interesting in the article were that snacking is more common today and is sometimes, if not often, a result of a “lack of time” or “irregular access to ‘proper’ meals”.
I see this all the time at work where less and less people are even taking the proper time to sit and have lunch. What happened to the “lunch” break – a time when you could sit with others and hold an actual conversation. It was a time when you could get to know someone. Okay, there are still some of us that take our lunch break away from our desk. I try to. But I digress – this is a topic for another day, another blog post.
The article also discussed some benefits of snacking, especially if an individual is already lean and physically active. But it also points out that for some “snacking leads to over consumption”. The problem here is that if one snacks, but has not cut down on the “three” meals a day, then we are overeating.
Here’s my problem – I eat breakfast at around 6:30 am and the proponents of eating only three meals a day suggest that those meals should be around 4 to 5 hours apart (for full digestion and that the meal should be able to sustain your energy levels for that time period) I should be eating lunch between 10:30 and 11:30 am. And if I eat lunch at 11:30 am then dinner would be between 3:30 pm and 4:30 pm. This schedule does not work if you are like me and work full time, 8 to 5, 5 days a week. It is no wonder that I am hungry at 10 am and 3 pm every day.
Here is the solution I’m going to try – I am going to make sure I have a mid morning and mid afternoon snack (full of fiber and 100 calories or less). Around 10:30 to 11:00 am I will have a snack with lunch at 1:00 pm. Around 4 pm I will have another small snack, with dinner normally being around 6:30 – 7:00 pm.
Lets be clear – I am not advocating any one way to healthy eating here. I believe that different approaches work for different people. I don’t even know what is the right approach for me. That is why I am experimenting. I want to find a healthy way to eat for the rest of my life that provides me with good food, energy throughout the day, and a good rest at night. I would love to hear your thoughts here – do you snack or eat smaller more frequent meals? If so, what do those snacks and meals look like? If you do not snack in between, how do you make sure you are fueling your bodies enough to work throughout the day?