Jon Thompson, MD, FASMBS and Angela Fitch, MD, ABOM
Eating “mini meals” — five small meals per day, three meals per day with two healthy snacks or a mini meal every three hours — has many benefits. First and foremost, it allows for a small amount of food to satisfy the appetite. This makes portion and caloric control possible. It allows the healthy eater to proactively manage appetite versus reactively responding to an accumulation of appetite. This leads to eating what feels good, and lots of it.
When your hunger accumulates and your executive functioning is depleted (after a long, stressful day), you are no longer in control and are unable to make rational food choices. Think about having mini meal slots in your day. Start shortly after you wake up then eat a mini meal about every three hours. Meal replacement options — bars, shakes and now puree pouches — have become a helpful alternative to prepared meals to stay on schedule.
Simple carbohydrates (such as sugar, white bread, white rice, pasta, pretzels, etc.) have been consumed in massive quantities in the United States. Consider high fat (particularly saturated fat and trans fat) foods in the same category as “treats” like ice cream, cake, cookies, pie and candy. Having candy-flavored bars and shakes gives stimulus training to expect sweet treats, candy and ice cream. Eat real food (plants and protein), not treats for your mini meals.
Planning every meal in advance is very difficult. Let your system do the planning. Have back up food where you are going to be (home, car, work) or know where to get it. Check the gas station convenience store next to the McDonald’s drive-through — a protein shake or a bag of nuts is just as convenient to find as fast food.