Do I seriously have to eat six small meals per day?

One of the many reasons why diets may fail people is due to the number of ‘rules’ one must follow for the diet to work. Some of these rules come with high expectations for the ‘dieter’ to change habits of a life time. While understandably if you want to reach a healthy weight, some habits require changing, if those new habits are not consistent with your belief system, personal preferences or require a dramatic change in lifestyle it can be very hard to successfully follow these dietary rules through.

An example of this is that some diets and weight loss advisors focus on the dieter having six small meals per day. Personally, one of my health obstacles has been in making sure I am sufficiently organized and get the time to make three nutritious meals per day. Having always eaten three meals per day I have absolutely no desire in changing this dietary regime. Where would I get the time to make six nutritious meals per day, when three is hard enough???? Furthermore, finding the time and opportunity to eat six times a day would not really be that easy. I have other commitments in my life, such as work, that requires me to focus my concentration on other activities besides consuming food.

Apparently the theory of this approach is that having more regular, smaller meals will speed up your metabolism. However, it’s not backed up with any firm research support. Dietary regimes like this often don’t really take into account that people are individuals and their physiological make-up is unique. It doesn’t take into account a person’s beliefs, prior habits or their lifestyle. Sustaining any dietary regime will be difficult if these factors aren’t taken into account.

While this approach may suit some people it certainly won’t suit others. If you view any dietary rules and regimes with skepticism or hesitation or feel any resistance to a particular dietary approach, then maybe it’s not the right approach for you or at the very least you will need a modified approach to be able to successfully sustain the regime.  Before embarking on any approach to manage health, it is important to ask yourself whether the approach realistically fits with your beliefs, personal preferences and lifestyle.

Food, Mood and Attitude © 2011

About Suzanne

has written 37 post in this blog.

Suzanne is the owner of Food, Mood and Attitude. Suzanne is passionate about sharing healthy messages about how we relate to food and our bodies. Life is too short too worry about big bums and diets that don't work.

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Suzanne is the owner of Food, Mood and Attitude. Suzanne is passionate about sharing healthy messages about how we relate to food and our bodies. Life is too short too worry about big bums and diets that don't work.

5 thoughts on “Do I seriously have to eat six small meals per day?”

  1. Actually, the reasoning behind the six small meals (or multiple meals throughout the day) is not to speed up the metabolism.

    The idea is that by providing your body with a steady stream of calories, even if it is fewer calories than you normally eat, that you will keep your body from thinking there’s a food shortage, going into starvation mode and doing energy-saving tricks like breaking down muscle mass and slowing your metabolism.

    Whether or not that works is debatable. I know that when I eat several times I feel a lot better than when I try to fit my eating into three meals. When I was actively trying to lose weight, I noticed I was hungry less often and didn’t feel deprived. Although, I also ate whatever I wanted, the only stipulation being that each meal had to have at least one fruit or vegetable and I had to average 1800 calories a day.

    1. My understanding from what I have read is that the evidence that six meals a day is better for you is debatable, as you mentioned Jill. I’m sure some people prefer to eat more meals in a day than the standard three and if they notice the benefits of doing that it’s a good sign to keep going. It’s just not practical for me to do that. My concern is that any dietary advice needs to given in a way that takes into account a person’s lifestyle and personal preferences. Even if six meals a day was found to be better for you than the standard three, if it doesn’t fit the person’s lifestyle and beliefs they are not as likely to change habits. Small, realistic changes are more likely to change eating habits than extreme lifestyle changes.

  2. I’m with you, it’s inconvenient enough to figure out what to eat three times a day and finding time to eat it. Breakfast at 6 am (sometimes 7), lunch at noon, dinner around 8 pm, I fit in a few snacks here and there, but it’s much easier on my life to have meals that will sustain me for hours (if I eat correctly, 6+ hours is fine, if I throw in some fruit or veggies in. Besides, I don’t really like tiny meals, though if I’m just at home, no work, no gym, no anything, I tend more towards frequent, small eating episodes (not sure when a meal becomes a snack).
    julie recently posted..Low-Carb Gurus and skinny people eating sweetsMy Profile

    1. That’s practical in terms of food preparation time but personally I would find it difficult to then find the time to focus on eating the six meals. It just doesn’t suit my lifestyle….but then as Julie mentioned above when there are less demands from work etc during the day this can make this approach to eating more feasible…I just don’t find it useful to have rigid food rules without considering the impacts of personal preferences and lifestyle factors…

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