If you have low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) you’ve probably been advised to eat 6 to 8 small meals a day. Never go more than 2 or 3 hours without eating. This is standard advice for anyone with hypoglycemia. In fact, most doctors and dieticians recommend it for anyone trying to lose weight.
The theory is, by eating every 2 or 3 hours, you keep your blood sugar stable and avoid crashes.
It does sound plausible in theory. But in practice, this advice is terribly wrong. In fact, it is one of the worst pieces of diet advice ever given.
Eating snacks throughout the day will only perpetuate your blood sugar issues and lead to insulin resistance, diabetes and other more serious conditions.
Also, if you eat every 2 or 3 hours, your body never gets time to burn any of its stored fat for energy. So you will steadily gain weight.
Every time you eat, your blood sugar rises and this is followed by an increase in insulin. Insulin is the main hormone that helps you to store fat.
By eating all day long, you get constantly elevated insulin levels. This is not good!
In 2002, the New York Academy of Sciences published a report stating that all-day grazing can put you at risk for type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. The risk increases when insulin levels spike after eating foods that have high-glycemic values.
Some more enlightened doctors and health experts have realized the dangers of snacking all day long. This has led to a new diet fad known as Intermittent Fasting.
I use the word “fad” because a whole community has developed around Intermittent Fasting. It has become like a religion to some people.
There are different forms of Intermittent Fasting. But essentially it involves restricting your eating to a short time window each day – usually 4 to 6 hours – and then fasting for the reamining 16 to 18 hours each day.
So, you might miss breakfast and then eat lunch around 1pm and dinner around 6pm.
There are, without doubt, health benefits from any kind of fasting. People have fasted for both spiritual and physical reasons for thousands of years. So, in prinicple, Intermittent Fasting can be a positive practice.
However, if you have hypoglycemia, chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, low thyroid or any similar health issues – or even if you are just stressed and feeling “burned out” you should not even consider Intermittent Fasting.
It would be far too stressful on your body. You need a more moderate approach.
A perfect compromise is to eat three balanced meals a day.
Strangely enough, three meals a day is what most traditional societies have been doing since the beginning of recorded human history. Breakfast, lunch and dinner (or supper).
People have traditionally sat down to eat a meal, relaxed for a while afterwards and then gone of to work for 5 or 6 hours until the next meal.
Three square meals a day!
If you eat only 3 meals a day, with no snacks, it’s like having a mini fast for 5 – 6 hours between each meal and then a longer fast of about 13 hours overnight.
So you get some of the benefits of fasting, without putting your body under too much stress.
If you have been in the habit of eating snacks, switching to three meals a day might be a challenge at first. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t manage it immediately.
You can even start with 4 meals to make it easier. But the objective should be to get to 3 meals and no snacks, as soon as possible.
If you are on any kind of restricted diet, this can be a reason why you need to snack all the time. For example, if you are eating a low fat diet, you will experience a blood sugar crash 2 or 3 hours after your meal. The same can happen if you don’t eat enough carbohydrate at a meal. You need to eat BALANCED meals.
A balanced meal, with enough protein, fat and carbohydrate should be enough to keep you going for 5 or 6 hours until the next meal.
I challenge you to try this for 30 days. Eat just three meals a day and no snacks. It could transform your health and your life.
If you are still not convinced, here’s an interesting video by Dr John Douillard. He explains the dangers of frequent snacking:
In my own struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome and hypoglycemia, back in the 1980s, the single biggest change that turned my health around was sticking religiously to 3 meals a day and no snacks.
For about 18 months, I don’t think I ate a single snack.
Of course, there will be times when you want to eat a snack. For example, if you are travelling and can’t eat a proper meal, you might be genuinely hungry before the next meal. Or you might visit a friend or relative who has baked a cake or cookies, specially for you! In that case, eat enough to be polite – and enjoy it.
But as a general rule, stick to 3 meals a day. And NO SNACKS.