Balancing Frequent (Clean) Eating with NOT Overeating
One of the main principles of clean eating is to eat small, frequent meals. The idea behind this is that it keeps your metabolism revved up at all times, helps even out sugar spikes, and your stomach isn’t stretched out with those big, heavy meals. That makes perfect sense to me. However, I think the “I have to eat every 2-3 hours” mentality can also be detrimental to those struggling to maintain balance with their eating habits. Here’s why:
Ultimately, there is no research that correlates smaller frequent meals alone to weight loss. There are some reasons why smaller, more frequent meals can lead to consuming more calories, but ultimately it’s calories that make the biggest difference. What you eat is also a factor. Eating small, frequent meals often leads to consuming too many calories if you’re not eating the right foods and eating when you’re not hungry.
Why You Shouldn’t Skip Meals
If you wait longer than 5-6 hours between meals, your blood sugar drops and you are more likely to overeat. For example, those who eat like a bird during the day at work often come home and eat big dinners because they’re famished. For some, three meals a day is enough to even out those spikes.
Never Eat if You’re Not Hungry
This trumps all. Listening to your body’s cues and signals that it is hungry and eating accordingly is more important than eating frequently. One of the things I have learned over the years is not to eat by the clock, but to eat when I’m hungry. That simple principle never steers me wrong. And sometimes that means NOT eating every 2-3 hours. Especially if I eat more than usual at the prior meal.
In conclusion: Never eat if you’re not hungry, and don’t skip meals if you are hungry. The overriding principle here is to listen to your body.