The importance of regular meals on maintaining energy throughout the day
“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a princess and dinner like a pauper. “
“You are what you eat. “
“Treat your diet like a bank account. Good food choices are good investments. “
You have probably heard these sayings before. And they are true. Looking at nutritional science, countless studies keep confirming that paying attention to your daily diet makes a huge difference to your overall health. We need to eat a balanced diet of vegetables, lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and fibre and keep hydrated. For now, let’s focus on eating regularly.
Our body literally burns the food we eat. Once you have chewed your meal, it arrives in the stomach. There, it is churned up even more and mixed with digestive enzymes. From the stomach, this food chyme travels through the small and large intestines, where it is broken down into its individual components, which are amino acids (proteins), sugars (carbohydrates and fibre), vitamins, minerals, etc. Here, all the absorption happens. Your body’s preferred type of fuel is glucose (sugar). And your body’s preferred timing of meals is regular, with an extended time of rest (fasting) over a 24-hour period.
Regular Meals: Breakfast.
Our metabolism supplies our energy we need to function during the day. So, it makes sense to assume that we should supply this energy to our body during the day. Hence the idea of regularly spaced meals and of not skipping breakfast. Studies show time and again that eating a balanced breakfast within 1 ½ hours of rising keeps your hunger in check, makes you eat fewer calories throughout the day, maintains attention and learning, and balances your blood sugars early in the day. For most people, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet it doesn’t have to be huge.
2 slices of sourdough bread with cheese/ham or vegan spread
1-2 boiled/scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast
Bowl of muesli with ½ apple or banana and your favourite milk
Regular Meals: Lunch:
Maintaining energy throughout the day requires us to eat every 3-4 hours. This means that you can either have 2 substantial healthy snacks or a decent lunch in the middle of the day to keep you going until dinnertime. Food culture in Ireland has us eating a large dinner when we get home after work, however we may also eat a larger lunch in lieu of dinner. Either way, eating every 3-4 hours throughout the day is important.
Bowl of soup with a slice of sourdough bread
Budda bowl, or bowl of mixed salads with a balance of greens, protein and carbs
A fully cooked traditional meal in lieu of a larger dinner
Regular Meals: Dinner:
Dinner happens to be a large meal in Ireland, but you can get away with eating a light meal at the end of the day in advance of quieting things down for rest and sleep. I always recommend eating a balanced meal that contains carbohydrates as a healthy blend of protein and carbs helps you rest and sleep well. Dinner should not be eaten too late in order to give your body a chance to digest the food before you go to sleep, ideally no later than 7/7.30pm.
Salmon with broccoli and new potatoes, light dessert
Chicken breast with Cesar salad and new potatoes or some toast
Soup or medley of roast vegetables
Stir fry vegetables with prawns or tofu and rice