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Eating frequency

Posted by Amanda

How often should a person eat? Including snacks and such...?

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Judith J Wurtman Ph.D

 It is hard to get people to agree on the number and frequency of meals and snacks  because so much depends on wake-sleep time, exercise, and work periods. Ideally you should eat three meals a day and we recommend two snacks as well. Many people who eat an early breakfast get hungry late in the morning and a snack such as a banana or small container of yogurt will keep away hunger until lunch time. 3 or 4 pm is another snack time mainly because the brain levels of serotonin seem to drop at that time leaving people feeling tired, impatient, unfocused and sometimes irritable. A small snack of carbohydrate like pretzels, popcorn, granola bars or even dry cereal will help the brain make new serotonin and revitalize thinking and emotional energy. If you exercise a lot, you may find yourself hungry a couple of hours after exercise so pay attention to your body and eat at that time. A protein bar is a useful food to have in case post-exercise hunger strikes when you can't get to your kitchen or restaurant. If you stay up really late a night , you might be hungry before bedtime . Sometimes people who hate to eat breakfast but like a snack before going to bed eat a breakfast like meal. Cereral and milk or cottage cheese and fruit works either late at night or at breakfast time. The bottom line is : listen to your body. If you are hungry eat and eat enough to take away your hunger. But don't eat as a way of keeping yourself busy, procrastinating , or taking a break.

There is no set way of eating. Three meals a day seems to be a thing of the past as most of us tend to graze. But it is important to eat something after you wake up to get your brain and body functioning; a mid day meal, called lunch is also critical as your brain runs out of steam unless you nourish it in the middle of the work day . And dinner is a time to fill up with all those healthy food items you did not have time to eat earlier in the day. A critical time for snacking is late afternoon. Your brain serotonin will drop and you will crave carbohydrates at that time. Eat some low or fat free carbs. Your brain will make new serotonin and revitalize your mental and emotional energy.
NOTICE: The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on Wellsphere. If you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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