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How many meals?

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I keep reading over the years about how it's good to eat five small meals a day rather than three bigger ones if you want to stay slim. What do you think? And how many meals do you eat?

Posted 29.01.13, 9:44am

I think 'meals' is deceptive. 3 smaller meals and 2-3 snacks is more accurate.

I used to be 100% for 3 meals and 2 snacks, but now I just eat when I'm hungry and mostly ignore the guidelines of what you should / shouldn't do. Sometimes I eat 2 meals and 5 snacks, sometimes I eat 3 meals and no snacks, sometimes I eat 3 meals and 2-3 snacks. Some days I have an appetite for a big meal, some days I'd rather eat a banana so I just go on whatever I feel like doing.

One thing I don't tend to do is eat after 8pm, I'm definitely a breakfast person.

Posted 29.01.13, 3:43pm

Yes I wasn't meaning I was going to start eating five full size meals Smile I said meals though as it doesn't need to be 3 smaller meals and 2-3 snacks, some people spread out their food so eat 5 small meals all of roughly the same amount. 

I think it's good to eat according to your hunger, as you do. I try to set guidelines though as sometimes I think I'm hungry when I'm just bored. I've tried reducing my portions so I eat smaller breakfasts and lunches and 2 small snacks (one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon), however I find it difficult to reduce portions for my evening meal as I'm really hungry by then, and also it's my favourite meal of the day.

Posted 30.01.13, 10:16am

I know what you meant, my brain isn't working at the moment so phrasing what I wanted to say didn't come out right Embarassed the 5 meals thing can be deceptive because it doesn't always come with the information on what you're supposed to do. 5 meals sounds a lot bigger than '3 smaller meals and 2 snacks'.

5 similar sized meals would be just a bit bigger than snacks really, so it would work for a typical trickle-eater but not so good for a 3 meal a day hearty eater. Women in particular tend to benefit from regular, smaller amounts of food and I will say for the most part this works for me.

It's difficult to guage hunger and boredom, I tend to keep snacks like nuts in my drawer at work because I will only eat them if I'm actually hungry. They don't taste good enough to eat for the sake of it!

Eating more in the evening is OK if it works for you. My husband is an evening meal person and to him it's the most important meal. I've had to somewhat shuffle my own diet around his to accomodate for a proper evening meal. I don't really mind what I eat in the evening and I would be happy with beans on toast, I feel disappointed if I don't get a good breakfast though.

Posted 30.01.13, 6:43pm

Haha my brain has many phases of not working properly Smile I know what you mean, I guess it can be confusing as people have different definitions of what a 'meal' entails. I think I would be better with 3 smaller meals and 2 snacks as I like to have proper meals. I just need to work on reducing the portion sizes of my meals I think!

That's a good idea to keep snacks like nuts to hand as they are less tempting if you're just bored. 

 

Posted 31.01.13, 10:13am

If there's a big bag of, say, chocolate raisins in my desk drawer, I'd be tempted to munch on them regardless of how hungry I felt. Whereas if they were just raisins, I'd only grab a handful if I was actually hungry.

Posted 01.02.13, 3:37pm

I usually eat every 3-4 hours, but in smaller portions. Eating healthy snacks in between meals is something that I practice. I also drink a glass of water 20 minutes before meals to make sure that I will not overindulge. :)

Posted 01.02.13, 3:48pm

I'm the opposite Beth, chocolate raisins (and peanuts for that matter!) create mental images that put me off...rabbit droppings, no ta!! Although funnily enough I'm OK with raisins, even though I call them dead flies Embarassed I must be warped.

I wouldn't really like to eat raisins unless I were really hungry though. I prefer more succulent fruits, dates being my preference of dried fruit. I've finally found a supermarket with a regular stock of medjool dates, I am happy :)

Posted 01.02.13, 6:26pm

I love dates, they're definitely my favourite dried fruit too.

I've got bars in my drawer at work for snacks - they're baby snacks really from the baby food range in tescos haha, but they're really nice. They're made from oats, dried fruit and cocoa powder.

Posted 04.02.13, 10:46am

What made you walk down the baby food aisle? haha. Wouldn't even occur to me to look down there, or eat any of it. I still find it most grim that jars of baby food turn EVERYTHING orange, it doesn't seem to matter if it's peaches or rice pudding, orange stains everywhere!

I admit I have limited experience with the stuff, but it's been pretty grim when I've done the 'neeoooowwwww... aeroplane' trick to some purse-lipped niece / friends baby who doesn't want it!

I fear I would be a major food nazi if I had a child, to some extent you can control their food intake when they're little but I dread the talking and nursery stage where I'd be like 'EAT YOUR BANANAS AND BRUSSELLS' and they'd be going 'GIVE ME CRISPS AND CHOCOLATE LIKE MY FRIENDSSSSS EAT'. Ergh.

Posted 04.02.13, 3:31pm

I'd be the same. Every time I'm out & about I see young children and they are always snacking on junk food. I mean always. Stuff that used to be treats when I was a child is just considered 'normal food' now. Idiocy.

Posted 05.02.13, 10:23am

Quoted from GoneFishin:

What made you walk down the baby food aisle? haha. Wouldn't even occur to me to look down there, or eat any of it. I still find it most grim that jars of baby food turn EVERYTHING orange, it doesn't seem to matter if it's peaches or rice pudding, orange stains everywhere!

I think I was wandering down one time looking for something like cotton wool and I happened to spot these baby cookies which said "no nasties" and "no added sugar" on the box and I thought "ooh I wonder if I could eat them"! Haha. I've never had actually baby food (like the meals in jars) but the snacks are great - they make food for babies much healthier than they do for adults so most of the bars and biscuits are sugar free and they have vegetable crisps with no added salt. I often buy stuff there haha

Posted 05.02.13, 10:36am

I've heard of lots of people eating baby food. The crisps and cookies sound good, don't think I'd want to try the jars though

Posted 06.02.13, 5:17pm

I've tried these too Hannah! I love the fact that they make baby food organic - i just wish they did the same for adult snacks! I know there are some organic ones, but babies seem to have better options? haha

Posted 06.02.13, 5:18pm

To me, these types of food are still the equivalent of a junk food. I'd be concerned that it would encourage the child to snack on similar (and not necessarily better) foods when they get older because it's always been OK to eat from a packet. As an adult making a sensible decision to eat these it's OK, but is a child learning good eating habits from it and enjoying a wide variety of other foods? Not to criticise peoples parenting, but if the adult thinks it's OK to rely on packets in favour of fresh foods, so will the child? It certainly seems to be true from some examples of parenting I've seen.

I have tried baby food but only because I was testing the temperature before feeding my niece. It's seriously vile, if I had my own children that stuff wouldn't pass their lips. I would be handing over my own food and making sure it was used! Same for kiddie yogurts, munch bunch and petit filous etc? Nooo way.

I know they are careful with the salt content of baby foods and I guess that makes sense, too much salt isn't great for adults either! I would encourage fruit, whole foods and vegetables over packets and bars - BUT this is the way I try to eat myself. I would hope that some of my habits would pass onto my children, if I have them one day.

Posted 06.02.13, 7:36pm

I understand what you are saying about passing on habits when it comes to kids, but these foods still can't be described as junk food. Junk food applies to foods that are devoid of any nutrients and/or containing harmful ingredients, however these are neither of the above. The bars contain dried fruit and oats and are organic with no added sugar. They are no worse than eating some porridge or muesli with dried fruit.

I was referring to eating them as an adult and not how good they are for kids but, on that topic, while it is better to go for fresh foods over packets, it is nice for kids to have some form of 'treat' every so often, and also it is just convenient sometimes to have something easy to hand which is healthy and that they know their child will enjoy. 

Posted 07.02.13, 1:23pm

Quoted from GoneFishin:

To me, these types of food are still the equivalent of a junk food. I'd be concerned that it would encourage the child to snack on similar (and not necessarily better) foods when they get older because it's always been OK to eat from a packet. As an adult making a sensible decision to eat these it's OK, but is a child learning good eating habits from it and enjoying a wide variety of other foods? Not to criticise peoples parenting, but if the adult thinks it's OK to rely on packets in favour of fresh foods, so will the child? It certainly seems to be true from some examples of parenting I've seen.

I have tried baby food but only because I was testing the temperature before feeding my niece. It's seriously vile, if I had my own children that stuff wouldn't pass their lips. I would be handing over my own food and making sure it was used! Same for kiddie yogurts, munch bunch and petit filous etc? Nooo way.

I know they are careful with the salt content of baby foods and I guess that makes sense, too much salt isn't great for adults either! I would encourage fruit, whole foods and vegetables over packets and bars - BUT this is the way I try to eat myself. I would hope that some of my habits would pass onto my children, if I have them one day.

You can't not let your child have munch bunch, they were great! I understand trying to get them to eat healthily but I think it can go too far somtimes, the odd yoghurt here and there is a fun and tasty snack Smile

Posted 08.02.13, 9:56am

Actually, when you consider childhood obesity is an increasing problem and that the supermarket shelves are stacked with foods that aren't pushing you towards favouring fruit + vegetables, you can't really go too far to ensure you or your child are eating a nutritionally valid diet. I'm all for keeping a bar in my pocket for a convenient on the go snack, but I wouldn't be handing it out at home when I could be giving a wide range of other wholesome foods.

The way I see it is, if given the choice of handing out a full-fat natural yogurt that was sweetened with fruit to take away any bitterness... if the child had never eaten a munch bunch or a childs range yogurt, would that be any less of a treat? To me personally, soft fruit is quite a treat because it's not  always cheap and as a kid it was always brought as treat food. If you remain neutral on chocolate and don't buy it or eat it regularly in front of the child, do they see chocolate as the treat? Or if you're eating strawberries and 'mmm'-ing at them, would they see those as a better food that is more desirable? (I'd be interested to know that, as I'm not actually planning to pop children out anytime soon).

Can you not influence 'good treats' over bad ones? Not to say you're a complete food nazi who won't let the child sniff chocolate, but seriously, if you could offer the child a better option and they would take it, would you feed them the junk by default because it was conveniently there?

As a child I was fed munch bunch, crisps, chocolate etc as well as my Dads great home-made cooking. I'm an adult who's also had to unlearn bad habits and learn about food, proper eating habits and portion sizes. I wish I hadn't been given those 'fun and tasty snacks' that did me no favours, other than to fuel my sweet tooth. It's even more of a problem now because it's become acceptable for this sort of food to be part of a 'normal' diet. Some of these foods shouldn't even be on the shelves.

I don't think it helps that I would feel like a bad parent if I were choosing these options, especially when I don't buy them myself. I wouldn't let half of these products pass my own lips. I'm not openly criticising the parents that do buy these foods, but do they actually read the labels, or are they convinced by the pictures and 'No additives, no artificial colouring' signs stamped all over the food? Are you a bad parent for wanting to encourage your child to eat the better option, possibly despite peer pressure and outside influences that want to stuff them with sweets and chocolate (like grandparents).

Either way, we're way off topic from the original post and I don't think my opinion of food and children is really going to change anytime soon. I'll start a new topic, should I decide to pop any children out in the future! I found this an interesting read though http://www.thealphaparent.com/2013/02/the-truth-about-baby-food-jars.html

Posted 08.02.13, 12:23pm

Whether they're junk or not depends on what binds those main ingredients together rather than the main ingredients. (it's like saying banana chips are healthy because theyre made from banana). Things like nakd bars are healthy ingredients just blended and squashed together, but most bar ingredients are binded together with a load of crap & preservatives. 

Posted 10.02.13, 2:56pm

Yep that's what I'm saying about the baby bars, they don't contain any preservatives and aren't binded together with anything bad, so they can't really be described as junk food. They're basically same as the nakd bars just with oats in too.

Posted 11.02.13, 10:33am