Do you NEED to eat 3 meals a day?
By Ashleigh Kidd, RD, LDN | September 2022
If you’re reading this you’re either thinking “Of course! I would be starving if not!” Or you might be thinking “No, I regularly skip (insert meal here)”. Regardless of your answer, we’re going to take a dive into each of these patterns and how they affect how we feel daily and over time.
With different fasting methods, and intense food/calorie restriction typically being doted on as the right and familiar answer to achieving your health goals, there can be some confusion on which approach to take.
Here’s the tea:
Do you have to eat three meals a day? The short answer is no….you don’t HAVE to. However, the vast majority of people feel their best having three meals a day, eating about every 3-4 hours (+ snacks when needed). If you are looking for a small step to improve your nutrition, I highly recommend you starting here.
So what happens when we skip meals or under-fuel?
- Feeling out of control around food. Do you ever get home from work and feel like you’re grabbing for everything but the kitchen sink? When you don’t eat enough during the day, it’s highly likely when you finally get around food you’re going to feel quite out of control. You’ve passed “I could eat” and it’s more like “IM STARVING”. When this happens, you’ll likely overeat because your hunger cues are a bit out of whack and you don’t have time to slow down and mindfully prepare a meal or snack. Eating enough during the day, consistently, can help with this out of control feeling.
- Lack of energy. Are you hitting that 2-3pm slump? Eating consistently throughout the day, making sure that you’re eating enough, and getting a variety of macro and micronutrients at your meals are key. Check out our How to Build a Balanced and Satisfying Plate blog to learn how to balance your plate to feel your best.
- Increased thoughts about food. When we are under-fueled, skip meals, or perhaps cut out on certain macronutrients or foods, you can almost always bet on having increased thoughts about those foods. Always thinking of what you’re going to eat next, or maybe what foods or meals you have “off-limits”. It may seem the most “normal” to skip and cut foods out to reach your health goals because that’s likely what you grew up hearing from family, friends, and media. But in reality, this only harms your relationship with food and doesn’t serve you physically or mentally. Fueling your body, having a positive relationship with food, and reaching your health goals can all co-exist. Here’s a blog on where to start: “Removing “Good/Bad” Food Labels”.
These are just a few of the reasons why eating consistently throughout the day is beneficial for just about everyone. Changing the way you’ve approached or thought about something for years is difficult, and developing new habits won’t happen overnight. Show yourself some grace and start with your favorite breakfast tomorrow. You can always refer back to our recipe library on the app for meal inspo and recipes.