Food is major confusion these days. I mean, it is not just about the excessive obsession over our self-images and body concepts making us obsess about what to eat and when. It is our desire to eat what we love and explore new tastes, textures, and flavors that make us obsess over food.
It is debatable whether we eat to live or whether we live to eat; however, we are sure that it certainly is one or the other. For many of us, food is not just nutrition, health, and a source of energy; but is also therapy, emotion management, self-care, and at times, a best friend too.
But sometimes, food turns to become a toxic boyfriend or a cute ex-girlfriend who you cannot reach out to anymore; this is when you do not treat food the way you are supposed to treat it. Ever heard the saying, ‘Eat your food like your medicine, or you will have to eat your medicine like your food’?
Well, my friend, let us tell you something straight away, that saying is not just some random saying. Those are words to live by. If you do not eat your food properly, in the right quantity and verities, on time and in right combinations, major and significant impacts and repercussions on your health will follow, in the near future, if not soon, and this is something you can be cent percent certain about.
Now talking about eating food properly, in the right quantity and verities, on time, and in the right combinations, you may all be pretty familiar with the concept of three meals a day. The practice of having three meals a day, namely breakfast, is the first meal of the day (which is often referred to as brain food). Secondly comes lunch, which is the second and moderately heavy meal of the day, and finally comes the last meal of the day, that is dinner. This is the favorite meal for many of us and oftentimes the heaviest meal, despite the ideal scenario being where dinner is the lightest meal of the day.
Now, If you often wonder what to eat and when or if you are planning to reorganize your eating pattern, we will be discussing a few pointers to be kept in mind. These pointers are mentioned below and discussed in detail.
As mentioned before and like always mentioned, breakfast, which is a fasting-breaking meal, where you break your 7- 10 hour fasting after dinner and sleeping, is a very important or rather the most important meal of the day. Oftentimes termed as brain food, if not taken properly, breakfast can cause a lot of health issues for you.
Just not eating breakfast one single day in the morning can make you lose a whole day, give you a throbbing headache, decrease your energy levels and productivity, maybe even to a straight zero.
Now, coming to the right way to have breakfast, it is always best to have your breakfast in less than 30 minutes or a maximum of one hour after waking up. Ideally, this should be somewhere between 6.30 am, and 8.30 am.
Also, one additional thing to be kept in mind is to not make your breakfast filled with carbs or way too sugary. Making it protein-rich will help you stay full for longer and more energetic also help you lose weight by decreasing hunger pangs and cravings for the rest of the day.
If you are familiar with the saying, ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper,’ I guess you can understand from that quote that lunch should not be the heaviest. But it also should not be the lightest meal of the day. Lunch should ideally contain the most varied range of items possible, and if you are someone who loves to experiment with food, then lunch is your opportunity.
But is it important to keep in mind that while lunch should adequately energize you, it should not be so heavy, sugary, or huge that you end up feeling sleepy and tired for the rest of the day. A 10- or 20-minute power nap after lunch may be okay, but it should not cross that. So, while having lunch, include enough carbs, proteins, fats, and maybe you can have a fruit or a sweet as a desert to finish it off.
And about when to have your lunch, ideally, it should be somewhere between 4 to 5 hours after your breakfast. This can be anywhere between 11.30 am and 2.00 pm. But in no case, cross 4.00 pm.
Now, coming back to ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper,’ eating your dinner like a pauper is probably not what you are used to, and neither are most of us. This might be because, after the long, tiring, and hectic school or workday, dinner is when you get time to chill and relax, and get into your comfort zone, with a movie or a series and snuggle up with a pizza, burger, or some unhealthy but tasty and comfy food.
Yes, we all can relate. Also, it may be the only meal where you get time to spend with your family, and this might also be the reason that makes dinners sometimes unusually long and heavy. While we may have enough reasons to keep having unhealthy dinners, there are more, and in fact, a non-exhaustive list of reasons to make changes and start having healthy dinners.
Coming to how to make it right, firstly, make sure you have your dinner sometime between 3 or 4 hours before your bedtime. Ideally, the best time to have your dinner is 7.00 pm or earlier. Make it as light as possible, but this does not mean that you can have a light dinner and wake up in the middle of the night to gorge on chips, fries, or some other junk food.
Having fruits, a salad or a bowl of oats or cereal, a salmon steak, some kale, chicken tenders are all okay. Monitor the quantity and have it at the right time.
Other Meals – Brunch, Evening Snack, Tea Breaks, Coffee Breaks, Pre Work Out Meals, Etc.
Other than the set three meals of the day, which are breakfast, lunch, and dinner, depending upon your diet and energy requirements, you can have additional meals, if need be. For example, if you are into working out a lot, maybe more than once a day, then you may need pre work out snacks to stay energetic during the workout as it is never a good idea to work out while hungry or starving. Good pre work out snacks can be a tuna sandwich or a chicken salad, or anything protein-rich.
Other things that many of us constantly need throughout the day are coffee and tea. If you are a workaholic, then no doubt that you will need coffee or tea or, for some people, both, to stay concentrated and energetic while working. If you do belong to this category, keep in mind that too much caffeine can do more harm than good, and having too many sugary drinks can take a toll on your health.
In addition to all this, the most important thing to keep in mind and do is to drink enough water and stay hydrated. It should never be put to compromise that you need a minimum of two liters of water per day. Depending on your age, weight, levels of activity, and dehydration, you may drink more water, but in no case should you decrease your water intake.
So do some personal customizations according to your requirement, like additions and subtractions and reorganizations to the 3 meal a day plan. While the basic plan that we follow remains the same, you can go for intermittent fasting, where only one meal is consumed per day, a meal plan best suited for diabetics where small calorie-conscious meals are taken throughout the day. Even ten meals are consumed per day, and several other such novel innovations are also happening in the field to best suit the changing energy and diet needs of several people.