Featured Contributor

Susie Garcia, RDN

Time rules. Time to get up, time to go to work, time for a meeting, time to go to Pilates, time to take kids to baseball, time to do laundry, the list never ends! It is like being in a psychedelic cartoon with calendars, clocks, alarm clocks, planners, cell phones, tablets, beeping and ringing and swirling around your head!

When is it time to eat? Although the seemingly old fashioned notion of set times for meals is difficult, it actually has scientific validity. There are ways to modify set times for meals that can help improve your health, energy and mood! Taking and making time to eat a meal, or even a snack, can be a challenge when you have a busy schedule and demands from other people. If you have struggled with losing or maintaining weight, it may be a result of poor meal timing.

It is virtually impossible to eat at 8:00 am, noon and 5:00 pm for most busy adults. Why are those times beneficial? It really is not so much the time on the clock as it is the timing. First, this old fashioned time table schedules three meals –no skipping, and second, there are no long gaps between meals, the most is 5 hours. How many times have you skipped breakfast, eaten a quick little lunch around noon and didn’t sit down for dinner (if you even got to sit down!) until 7:30 or later? These two principles can help you get control of your meal timing and enjoy the healthful benefits.

No Skipping. A little “something” is usually better nothing when it comes to a meal; and sometimes when you are busy you may have to string together a few little something’s throughout the day to provide nourishment and energy. Some simple math can illustrate the importance of No Skipping. An average daily calorie intake for many women is 1500 – 1800 calories. Using 1500 calories a day, to evenly distribute calories that would mean each meal should contain about 500 calories. If you skip breakfast, you are 500 calories behind; then you choose a light lunch, maybe 300 calories; now you are 700 calories behind. Guess what? You will still eat those 700 calories and then you will have eaten 2/3 of your day’s calories in the last 1/3 of the day! Years and years of this habit can often result in gradual weight gain because you do not sufficiently burn off all of those calories at the end of the day.

The second principle is No Long Gaps. This goes hand in hand with dividing your day in thirds. As a general rule of thumb, do not go longer than 4 or 5 hours between meals, if you need to then have a small snack. When looking at the Gap principle, it is imperative that you understand what you are eating and how that can impact the gap. This information will help you plan as well as minimize guilt for being hungry sometimes.

Foods are comprised of Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat. Each are metabolized differently and at different speeds. There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Simple carbs are in their simplest form, easy to digest and instant energy; such as fruits, juices and sugars. Simple carbohydrates provide energy for about ½ – 1 hour. Complex carbohydrates take longer to metabolize, providing energy for 2-3 hours. Examples include breads, cereals, rice, pasta, and potatoes.

Good sources of protein include meats, dried beans, dairy products, nuts and seeds. Protein will provide energy for 3-4 hours. Fats are the slowest to digest, taking 6-8 hours. Oils, butter, margarine, mayonnaise, salad dressings, fried foods are examples. Ideally you want to include a good source of protein at each meal to compliment complex carbohydrates and a healthy fat (vegetable source).

Now is the best time to take control of your eating! Remember 2 simple rules – No Skipping and No Long Gaps!

To get Susie’s FREE guide, 7 Steps To A Healthier You, visit www.YourHealthyLifeChoices.com

Susie Garcia is a Registered Dietitian specializing in Health and Wellness, Nutrition Education and Food and Diet Trends. She has received the Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year Award by the American Dietetic Association and the Texas Dietetic Association. She is a graduate of North Dakota State University and completed her dietetic internship at Texas A&M University. She currently operates a private practice, Nutrition For Your Lifestyle, in the San Francisco Bay area. Susie has experience in several areas of Food and Nutrition including, individual consultations nutrition management, research and development, nutrition writing and presenting, and more. She also develops nutrition programs, diet plans and menus for individuals and businesses. She is a ServSafe instructor, and a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Nutrition Entrepreneurs Practice Group, and California and Diablo Valley Dietetic Associations. To learn more about Susie Garcia, visit www.NutritionForYourLifestyle.com

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