The World's Healthiest Foods

How should I space my eating throughout the day?

The frequency with which you should eat depends on numerous individual factors, such as:

  • how quickly you typically digest food (your “metabolism”)
  • how sensitive you are to carbohydrate-containing foods (your “blood sugar” changes)
  • how physically active you are
  • the kinds of foods you eat and how quickly they release their food energy
  • health conditions that can affect your digestion and metabolism (such as blood sugar problems, insufficient production of stomach acid, or inflammatory intestinal diseases). If you have conditions such as these, you might find the dietary information presented under Foods that prevent disease helpful. We suggest that you consult a health care professional for individualized dietary recommendations.

Ideally, your food choices should provide you with gradually released energy so that you continue to feel energetic even after digestion is complete. This maximizes your nutritional benefit while minimizing the body's usable energy that you must devote to digestion—leaving you more energy for enjoying life. If you make wise food choices and your digestive function and your metabolism are healthfully synchronized, you may feel completely satisfied and energetic with three meals or two meals and a snack daily. Otherwise, or if you are particularly physically active, you may find it necessary to have more frequent smaller meals or to add snacks to your eating schedule.

Here is a suggested “ideal” eating schedule, including food choices, that may be adapted to your individual and changing needs:

  1. After rising, a medium-to-light meal that includes a good source of protein, a small amount of essential fats, a light serving of low-glycemic index carbohydrates, and a beverage. Two examples:
    • steel-cut oatmeal with soymilk and a handful of pecans, and herbal chai tea
    • blender smoothie with soymilk, fresh or frozen raspberries, cinnamon, and one-half of a banana, and herbal tea
  2. Mid-morning, if desired, a light snack of fresh or dried fruit, nuts, and a beverage. For example, whole almonds, dried apricots, and sparkling water.
  3. Mid-day, a moderate meal that emphasizes a good source of protein but also provides a small amount of essential fats and a moderate serving of low-glycemic index carbohydrates, plus a beverage. Two examples:
    • miso soup, broiled fish, green salad with vinaigrette and walnuts, and green tea
    • tuna salad sandwich with tomato and greens, and peppermint tea
  4. Mid-afternoon, if needed, a light snack providing protein and carbohydrates, along with a beverage. For example, hummus dip with whole-grain rye crackers and sparkling water.
  5. Evening, a medium-light meal that emphasizes a good source of low-to-medium-glycemic index carbohydrates but also provides a small amount of essential fats, and a beverage. Two examples:
    • baked yam topped with ginger, pine nuts, and flaxseed oil, and herbal tea miso soup
    • whole-grain pasta with stir-fried vegetables, garlic, spices, and avocado, and chamomile tea
  6. Later, if necessary, a very light snack of fruit or milk (or soymilk, etc.)

This page was updated on: 2002-01-19 00:04:13
© 2002 The George Mateljan Foundation