Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eating 5-6 mini meals or 3 big meals - which is better?

This is something that you can find as many experts touting one way of eating as the other and I have to say even for myself that I have gone back and forth between these, but I have some new found thoughts on it. At least for those of us who have weight problems or tend to have or have had in the past, blood sugar problems.

The thought used to be that what was best for people with blood sugar issues and who are NOT on medications  (and I'm not diabetic, but have had gestational diabetes with my second pregnancy and a bout of blood sugar issues when they got my thyroid figured out that I was able to control by diet alone) was to keep the blood sugar at a constant or close to a constant. Diabetics were to eat a well-balanced diet which included a lot of whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal, etc). and they were to never skip meals and to eat at consistent intervals. This is still probably what the ADA is recommending.

However, it's not what my specialist for gestational diabetes told me to do nor is it what a nutritionist now is telling me to do OR what my endocrinologist has told me to do.

All of these specialists are on board with ridding the body of things like bread, rice, etc and they are for eating three solid meals a day (or less), but low glycemic and with lots of proteins and healthy fats.

What they are learning now (and this has certainly been true for me) is that if you eat less grains/easy to break down carbs, your blood sugars never spike and the food takes longer to digest, so your blood sugars go up slowly and go down slowly - with no spike. Also, it's better to have blood sugar levels be around 80-100 for a few hours between meals than to have it constantly raised a bit with these mini meals. Your need for insulin (naturally produced) is lower if you avoid certain foods, so you don't produce as much and therefore you never crash. Your body just stays at this steady, lower level with rolling hills instead of mountains of blood sugar levels going up and down.

Now, one reason I think that some have recommended several smaller meals for those dieting is so that dieters don't feel deprived or hungry. Eat a bit here and there and make healthy choices and then you don't have to feel hungry.

The problem with that for many people (and yes, it does work for a lot of people, so if it works for you great - but we are not all the same) is that they are still hungry after breakfast or lunch or dinner and they are already thinking about when they can eat next. Then, they can get too hungry between meals and besides grabbing their healthy snack, the grab a cookie or a soda or something else as a quick fix.

Or, like I'm want to do is that I think to myself, "Well, maybe I don't need that snack today. Maybe I can save that extra 100-150 calories for a bigger deficit for the day." Sounds good, but in the end, I get so hungry that either that day or the next day I grab more snacks (usually unhealthy ones) to stave off the hunger and low sugar pangs.

New research is showing that perhaps having a fuller breakfast you can stave off hunger until lunch and then lunch until dinner and then dinner until breakfast.

I was a skeptic of it. I was. Why? because when I was eating a richer carb diet, I would still get hungry between meals even if those meals were huge or high in calorie. My blood sugars would spike and then come crashing down which would have me scrambling for another sugar fix and so on. It's how I was probably eating 3000 plus calories a day.

However, if I eat a lower carb, higher protein and fat breakfast or lunch, I am satisfied for hours and hours and hours. I'm not thinking about food until it's time for the next meal.

Having a breakfast of coffee (half decaf) with whole milk, a protein bar and two eggs holds me for a long time - from 8 am until noon. I feel satisfied. Eating an apple with 3 tablespoons of peanut butter, a couple cheese sticks and some green pepper slices or the like has me good from noon until 5-6 o'clock.

In the end I'm even eating the same foods I would have eaten as snacks in between the meals, but before I would get hungry. In the latter case, I don't  get hungry as often and I'm less likely to grab unhealthy, quick fixes snacks too.  The big difference for me is the quality of the meal.

Now... don't believe me? Fine... but do some research and you'll find the experts are all over on this topic, but it's what makes sense and what works for me.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post! I totally feel you on doing whats right for you. I remember going through this period of having oatmeal for breakfast everyday because "it's the healthy thing to do" and when I finally started listening to my body (which was hungry a hour after having oatmeal) I realized that I really don't like oatmeal.... haven't had if for 7-8 months lol!

    And I had the same experience with breakfast, mine was more high fat (eggs cooked in coconut oil, a slice of bacon and greens maybe half a toast), I would eat at 7am and not need a snack until 2-3 pm.

    I hope more people experiment with there breakfast and see what you talking about!