Magic of Mini-Meals: Don’t be trapped by three meals a day.
Have you heard that eating three meals a day is an outdated idea? Eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day—four to six mini-meals every 3 to 4 hours—has a number of health benefits.
The idea is not to eat more than you would in a typical day. Simply imagine that same amount of food redistributed over the course of your day.
Why should you consider the mini-meal approach? Research shows a correlation between eating more frequent, smaller meals and improvements in health. Some potential benefits include:
- Sustain energy and blood sugar levels
- Maintain or lose weight
- Protect yourself from heart disease and type 2 diabetes
- Rev up your metabolism all day long
- Lower your overall cholesterol and LDL
- Promote better food absorption and prevent heartburn
Tips for Success
If you think mini-meals may be right for you, here are some tips to make them work in your favor.
- Eat smart. Avoid high-sugar foods that just give you temporary energy bursts, but leave you more tired in the long run. Fiber-rich foods and protein are nature’s appetite suppressants and will last longer between larger meals.
- Plan ahead. Buy groceries for an entire week and prepare/pre-portion items for quick and easy eating. Make meal prep easier, too, with convenience items such as roasted chicken and frozen chopped vegetables.
- Save your leftovers from larger meals to use as snacks or mini-meals.
- When dining out, enjoy half of your entrée at the restaurant and take the other half home for another meal.
- Read labels. Make sure you pay close attention to serving sizes as you account for the calories in your mini-meals.
- Don’t cut too many calories. To keep your metabolic rate steady, make sure to not go below 1,200 calories per day, unless advised to do so by a healthcare professional.
Making Your Mini-Meals
Be sure to include balance in your mini-meals. Each meal should have some carbohydrates and some lean protein. Don’t forget to vary them! Try:
small baked potato • cup of yogurt • meal-replacement shake • apples and almonds • half a turkey sandwich and carrots • crackers and peanut butter
Are you ready for a mini-meal change of pace? Try this sample menu.
Breakfast: ¾ C bran cereal with ½ C skim milk and ½ C sliced strawberries, 1 C coffee Snack: 1 bottle Ensure Lunch: 1 hamburger, ½ C roasted potatoes, 1 C iced tea Snack: 5 baby carrots, ¼ C hummus Dinner: ¾ C spaghetti and 1 meatball with tomato sauce, 1 C salad greens with 1 T dressing, 1 C skim milk Evening Snack: 1 C yogurt