"No European who has tasted Savage Life can afterwards bear to live in our societies." — Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, October 18, 2007

How Often Should One Eat?

Diet isn't just about content; it's also about timing. Some people say that a person should eat 3 times per day. Others say one should eat 5 or 6 small meals per day, while some people suggest only eating once per day. Which is right? Or is one right at all?

Everyone's body is different. Some people have very fast digestive systems and they burn through food very quickly; these people must eat often so as to prevent things such as a blood sugar crash. Some people digest more slowly; they can eat less often, as their body evens out the peaks and troughs. Some people limit the frequency of their meals due to non-nutritional criteria; for example, Buddhist monks eat only once per day. One shouldn't eat anything for at least and hour - preferably two - before a yoga practice, and should wait to eat afterwards for at least 30 minutes.

As the years have gone by, I've tried many different things related to my diet. I've been vegetarian, vegan, and omnivore. I've eaten once per day, twice per day, three times per day, and many times per day. I know one man who eats a light breakfast, a "second breakfast" around 10:00AM, lunch at noon, a "second lunch" around 3:00PM, dinner, and an evening snack before bedtime. He says that his body requires such frequency or else he gets very tired.

My suggestion: try various things. If you're currently eating "normally" (usually 3 meals per day - breakfast, lunch, and dinner), see how you feel. Then, either increase your frequency and decrease your content at each meal, or go the other way and eat more food, less often. In any case, make sure you are eating an appropriate amount for your body and getting all needed nutrients.

Everyone is different, and everyone needs to realize their uniqueness and work with it instead of against it.