Is Breakfast Really the Most Important Meal?
What’s the best approach for the whole day of eating? How best to space your meals?
A good rule of thumb to eat by is, aim to eat three balanced meals each day and snacking in between if you feel physically hungry—stomach rumbling, brain fatigue, etc. Doing this daily will ensure that your body gives you natural hunger cues to tell you when you should be eating. Remember, hunger cues happen because you are getting low on energy, because food is your body’s fuel, and when you are low on energy you need to fuel up again—it’s meal or snack time!
With that said, what I usually ask patients about meal spacing is: when is your typical wake-up time? Whenever you wake up, try to eat breakfast within about two hours or less. Then, when is your typical dinnertime window? Take those two eating times, and then split the difference and put your lunch right in the middle of the two.
For example, if you are up at 6 a.m., say you are eating breakfast about 7 a.m., and you usually eat dinner about 6 p.m., the middle would be about 12:30 p.m. That should provide good guidance, but remember—if you are hungry in between, don’t hesitate to make a healthy snack (fiber and protein together, think: apple with peanut butter, trail mix, etc.) because food is your fuel and if you are feeling physically hungry, your body is telling you it needs some fuel to help keep you going.
Best advice? Make an appointment with a registered dietitian (RD). We recognize that one size does not fit all when it comes to nutrition and we can help you get to the bottom of your individual needs for meal spacing and hunger cues! If you don’t know how to find an RD near you, feel free to call me and I can help you find one: 215-456-6649.