The Importance of Eating Regularly - IMBOLDN
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Our day is filled with meals from the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we hit the hay at night. As food consumption is directly related our survival as well as our day to day lives, it is closely tied to our most basic of instincts. Although there are some differences depending on individuals, societies, and cultures, food and how we eat has been the single most important thing in guaranteeing our survival as well as bringing people together.

The widely accepted norm these days seems to be that we eat three times a day. We start with breakfast when we wake up in the morning, then we have lunch around noon, and lastly dinner after we finish work. However, is this really an ideal eating pattern for everyone? How many of us are eating three meals a day, when we’re busy with work, our social life, and binge watching anything and everything on Netflix?

There are many theories about when eating three meals a day became the accepted norm, the most common view being that it was established during the transition into the modern era. Before that, most people were more accustomed to eating twice a day, while only those born with important family names and numerous servants would be able to have multiple meals throughout the day. The Industrial Revolution brought about dramatically increased food production capabilities, resulting in a larger group of people being able to eat more frequently, with three meals a day being the average.

However, as we transition from the industrial age to the information age, the frequency and regularity of meals are changing rapidly in response to our new lifestyle. Instead of gathering around the table for a meal, we’re finding that more and more people are dining alone, making it more common to eat whenever it may be convenient. With this in mind, what is the most important thing we should consider about our eating habits?

Not surprisingly, the most important thing is to eat regularly in accordance with one’s own schedule. While regular meal times had huge cultural connotations of families congregating together in front of a meal, the concept of a common mealtime has gradually faded. Instead, we’re finding that different people eat at different times, and the frequency and time between meals are becoming more and more irregular.

As our bodies follow a circadian rhythm, recent studies have found that it’s important to keep a regular schedule for your meals to allow your body to follow a ‘meal clock’ to optimize your body’s nutritional intake. Our bodies adjust its own metabolic rate for better efficiency according to its ‘meal clock’ when we follow a regular meal schedule.

For example, the pancreas produces a variety of important hormones when we eat, but irregular or poor eating habits like overeating or binge eating will confuse our body’s ‘meal clock’ and affect insulin production. This can lead to diseases like diabetes and may also increase the risk of obesity due to our body’s response and attempt to conserve energy. As a result, irregular meals may cause the body to store more fat, and long gaps between meals may result in hypoglycaemia. Binge eating out of extreme of hunger afterwards will confuse insulin production even more, which may lead to irregular blood sugar levels with the increased risk of various diseases.

People in today’s society can be largely divided into two groups between the early birds and the night owls. Regardless of which group you may fall into, it is important to follow a regular meal schedule according to when your day starts and ends so your body can efficiently process it’s nutritional intake.

You may have heard the phrase “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and supper like a pauper.” By consuming most of your calories in the morning before noon, you will be burning most of the calories in the afternoon when you should be the most active. That’s why a carb-heavy meal for breakfast within an hour or two after waking up is recommended.

Likewise, the third meal of the day should be consumed four to five hours after the second meal. Eating a well-balanced meal every four to five hours will go along way in building a healthy eating habit. For those that usually stay awake late into the night, it may be necessary to add another fourth meal after four to five hours since your third. Just try to avoid eating within two to three hours before bedtime. Having an empty stomach for too long can distort the balance of your hormones, causing you to overeat or binge eat the next day.

The human body is not a machine. A machine may be contempt with working longer hours as long as it gets refueled. For machines that get less use than others, you don’t even have to worry about fueling it. However, unlike a machine, we require nutrients and calories to keep our body functioning, even without any activity, which is why we must eat regularly in accordance with the amount of activity throughout the day. So reintroduce yourself to your New Years resolution for a healthier body. With still more than half of 2016 left to go, you’re not too late to establish a healthier eating habit with regular meals.