I have a question for you:
How many meals a day do you eat?
The reason I am asking you this question is because I work with a lot of women who follow, or think they should follow, the recommendation to eat very frequent and smaller meals. They read somewhere that it’s better, it keeps our blood sugar level steady (instead of spiking up and crashing down) and it helps to control cravings. In the following blog and video I share my thoughts about that.
Well, is it true?
Here is what happens if you eat frequent, 5-6 smaller meals a day:
~ Your digestive system is going to be constantly working.
~ It takes time to digest food, about 6-8 hours, so while your digestive system is still digesting your previous meal, there’s a new meal coming in.
~ It is actually not good for your digestive system to be constantly working, it needs to have rest in between meals to restore and repair.
So that recommendations is not good for everybody.
How many meals should you eat every day?
I highly recommend to follow your hunger signals. After you eat a meal, let your digestive system digest, rest and listen to when your body is hungry before you eat the next meal. The more you practice that, the more you will fall into your own natural rhythm of eating. When I follow my hunger signals I will eat between 2-3 meals a day, depending on what and how much I’m eating, but definitely not 5-6 meals a day.
What about balancing blood sugar levels?
A more effective way to balance blood sugar levels is to learn how to eat foods that support that balance and how to avoid and reduce foods that spike it up. That would be a much better recommendations than to constantly graze throughout the day.
To learn about how to reduce cravings for sweets and simple carbs and live in the “Happy Middle” of a balanced blood sugar level check out my Freedom From Sugar Addiction workshop, a self-implemented 7 step program that will give you great results! Read all about it HERE.
There are exceptions to the rule!
Smaller, frequent meals might be a good recommendations for some people.
Women who are grazers usually cannot eat larger amount of food in one sitting and cannot get enough nutrients in one meal.
They get hungry frequently throughout the day.
Women who are underweight can especially benefit from more frequent meals.
If you think you fall into this category because of chronic health issues and imbalances, I can help. Please email me at email@example.com and I will be happy to schedule a consultation to support your health goals.
Remember that smaller, frequent meals is not a recommendation that is good for everybody and it’s not a good way to keep your blood sugar level steady. In fact eating smaller more frequent meals can result in making you hungrier and make you overeat. It does not allow your body to experience physical hunger and it can prevent you from learning to listen to it.
Please give it a try, follow your hunger signals and let me know how many meals a day YOUR body is happy with.
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Thanks so much for this. I had always heard a bunch of small meals was best and this explains why it is in SOME cases but not all. It makes sense as all of our bodies are different – thank you! Gratefully, Jenny
Thank you Jenny, so glad you found it helpful.
Thank you Rachel…this blog was so helpful in clearing up my questions about this practice. I will now “follow my gut” so to speak when deciding when and how many meals a day to eat. Much love xo
Yes, Debra, follow your gut 🙂 It will tell you what’s best for you.
Rachel, I’m appreciating your wisdom of, “I highly recommend to follow your hunger signals. After you eat a meal, let your digestive system digest, rest and listen to when your body is hungry before you eat the next meal. ”
This speaks volumes!
That’s what I enjoyed about my recent 2-week cleanse called “Clean14.org” which encouraged me to listen to what you call “hunger signals” and adapt the recipes whenever…and I did as sometimes I didn’t have the EXACT item for the recipe.
I so appreciate your encouragement to listen to our bodies and that eating throughout the day “does not allow your body to experience physical hunger and it can prevent you from learning to listen to it.” Reconnecting with our bodies and listening to the wisdom and insight found is so important and physical hunger is one way we can do that daily. Your recommendation to mindfully choose food that balances our blood sugar is also empowering advice! Thank you Rachel!
I agree Rachel, it’s most important to listen to our bodies. We are all different and unique. Most people are good with 3 meals a day, but there are exceptions which may vary at different times in our lives. I have found that as the years have gone by, I need less food than I did when I was younger. As you say, it’s important to keep our blood sugar levels steady!
I think we all have to find what works best for each of us as individuals. I’ve found that three meals a day, with maybe a little pick-me-up late afternoon (think organic granola, nuts and/or seeds and some lemon/lime water) works for me. I’ve also found that eating my bigger meal mid-day as opposed to the evening also helps me to stay energized and focused throughout the day, and I don’t feel overly full and sleepy after dinner any more!