Certainly what you eat has a direct impact on your health. How you eat across the day is AS important as what you eat across the day. Eating at appropriate times will help you maximize your metabolism and help keep hunger at bay.
The most common pattern of eating that I see over and over again in my private practice looks like this: little to no breakfast (if breakfast is eaten, it often lacks protein), coffee all morning, late lunch, snack, snack, dinner, snack, snack. This calorie distribution is heavily weighted towards the end of the day. This is a pattern that will set you up for failure and here’s why: skipping breakfast is seen as a stress in the body; the less you eat in the morning, the more likely you are to overeat in the evening. If you don’t get in front of your hunger, you will feel like you are chasing your hunger all day (ever wonder why you are hungry after dinner even though you just ate?). The more you shift your eating into the evening, the more you interfere with restorative sleep patterns. The best pattern of eating distributes calories evenly across the day.
Here is an example or a 1450 calorie meal plan with evenly distributed calories:
Breakfast 360 calories
Snack 125 calories
Lunch 420 calories
Snack 125 calories
Dinner 420 calories
HERE ARE THE BASICS – THE THREE PRINCIPLES OF HEALTHY EATING
PRINCIPLE ONE: eat consistently across the day
PRINCIPE TWO: do not eat carbohydrates (grain, vegetable and fruit) by themselves – pair these with a protein or fat source
PRINCIPLE THREE: move towards whole foods (predominantly plant based)
Work on the daily pattern: Breakfast, Snack, Lunch, Snack, Dinner.
You want 1/2 your calories to be eaten from breakfast to mid-lunch and the other 1/2 from mid-lunch to dinner
- Eat a breakfast within an hour of waking
- Set reminders to eat your snacks at 10:30AM, 3:30PM (the main meals are usually easy for people to remember).
- Lunch is your anchor point in the day. Keep lunch anchored at the same time daily (weekday and weekend)
- If you wake up late: absorb AM snack into breakfast and again – keep lunch anchored at the same time daily
- Refrain from eating after 7PM – this may not be doable with a varying work schedule. If you arrive home late on a consistent basis consider this pattern:
- Eat lunch at your anchored time. Include a 3:30PM snack. Include another snack at 5PM and then when you get home have only protein and vegetables and remove the grain (this is a good idea if dinner will be too close to bedtime)
- Mini-Fast: the goal is to do a 12-16 hour mini fast each evening (post dinner to breakfast the next day). If you finish dinner by 7PM and eat breakfast after 7AM, then this is a 12 hour mini fast.
EATING PATTERN SCHEDULE (EXAMPLE)
Wake at 7AM
Breakfast by 8AM
AM Snack 10:30AM
Afternoon Snack 3:30PM
Refrain from eating after dinner (mini-fast accomplished!)