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The Importance of eating 3 Meals a Day- Including a Healthy Breakfast

Updated on August 13, 2015

This week's Health Challenge is simple. It's all about the importance of having 3 meals every day.

It is critically important to have 3 meals every single day. Skipping breakfast because you don’t have time, or to save on calories is truly doing the opposite of what you may think. For one thing, you’ll feel you have less time, because you’ll have less energy and you’ll move slower. Ever wish there were more hours in the day? Eat breakfast. Ever had to confess that you're "not a morning person"? Eat breakfast. Ever felt like you always catch every cough or cold around you? Eat breakfast

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Why 3 meals? First of all, 3 is the minimum that is reasonable for most people to expect to work into their schedule every day. Also, 3 a day leaves you adequate time to digest each meal before adding the next. Ever gotten very sleepy after a large meal? That’s because your body is refocusing energy to the strenuous task of digesting that large meal. Most of the time, it won’t succeed in breaking down all of the nutrients in heavy meals either. It’s just too much to ask of your body. So breaking down the same amount of food into smaller meals and leaving space to digest gives your body a chance to successfully do its job. It may actually be healthiest to eat 5 smaller meals throughout the day. If that works for you, go for it! But most of us don't have the luxury of stopping every 3 or 4 hours to eat something.

Because of the chain of hormonal reactions set off by not having a consistent intake of calories, you are more likely to experience mood swings, menstrual disturbances, decreased sex drive, pre-diabetic symptoms, and your immune system may become weakened and leave you susceptible to infection. The human body operates on a complex system of hormones that communicate from one part of the body to another to keep everything working together. When you skip meals, you start a domino effect of hormonal imbalance. Your body thinks it needs to store calories and ration them out slowly because it may not have food again soon, so your thyroid slows down the hormones that drive your metabolism. Your thyroid is essentially sending out the message that there’s a shortage and everyone should only use what they need and stockpile the rest. That stockpile is called body fat. We all know extra calories go there when we eat too much, but that’s not the only way your body uses its fat storage. Not eating enough or not eating often enough also causes you to gain weight because your body is trying to fill the gap. Think of it like the body’s back-up plan- if it’s not getting what it needs consistently, it has a plan B to make sure it does have what it needs when it needs it. If food were money, it’s like it’s putting itself on a budget and building a safety net of savings. Because it’s not letting you spend this energy, you’re going to be sluggish and tired all the time. This reaction has been called “Fasting Mode”. Think about it- Breakfast… you’re breaking the fast from sleeping. If you don’t break the fast, your body will stay in the mode it’s in from sleep. Every day needs to include a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

An Example of 3 Healthy Meals

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Bethenny Frankel's Brown Rice Breakfast (see video recipe below)
Subway- 6 inch Veggie Sub, no cheese, no sauces
1 cup Lentil Soup (see recipe at bottom of page)
OR Oatmeal (not instant) with nuts and honey
Muscle Milk Light Bar (see link below)
1 cup steamed veggies
1 cup of coffee
 
4-6 oz. grilled chicken or fish
1 fresh apple
 
1/2 cup long grain brown rice (not instant)
Actually dietary needs vary from person to person. This is only meant to demonstrate what having 3 meals might look like.

So here's the challenge:

Take a look at how often you skip meals, especially breakfast. If you really can't see any way to avoid it and legitimately do not have time to sit down for a proper meal- look at healthy meal replacements. My rule of thumb is to keep it as natural and chemical-free as possible. The absolute best and tastiest I've found is Muscle Milk Protein Bars- they taste just like a common candy bar but they are packed with balanced energy and contain no lactose. The high protein brand of Slim Fast is also good. These are ok a few days a week, but try to have real food more often than not. You should rarely, if ever, eat fast food for breakfast. The breakfast items offered are the least healthy items offered all day (that's saying something considering some of the items you can order on their lunch/dinner menus). An occasional on-the-go treat for lunch or dinner can be ok. Read The Best Fast Food for a Diet for suggestions of fast food items that you won't pay for in your waistline.

Mom was right all along- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

These simple habits are baby steps towards a healthier lifestyle. Incorporate these easy tips and tricks and you will transform your life! It isn't hard to take one step at a time. You'll be closer to where you want to be before you know it. Check out my other hubs for more tips and tricks for staying healthy and losing weight. Any change is always better than none! And if you liked this Good Habit, share it with your friends, family, and coworkers! What good is a gift in your pocket when you can give it to others?

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A little about myself

I grew up with a healthy weight but no interest in being physically active. I avoided gym class- even took summer school for it in high school, showed up for attendance and disappeared until the end of the day and somehow got credit and passed the classes. (It was a different time- don't try this at home, kids!) I'm not your typical fitness guru that was always (or ever) involved in sports. As I hit adulthood and began to struggle with depression, I started eating emotionally and packed on the pounds. A few missteps with medications didn't help either. By 2006, I was edging into Obesity. I realized it was time to change. I had seen loved ones try to fail with all the prepackaged diet and exercise plans, so I knew right away there had to be a better way. I started reading everything I could about nutrition and fitness and never stopped. From 2010 to 2011, I lost over 100 pounds! For the first time since high school I was in a healthy weight range and I felt incredible! That's when I realized that this was what I was meant to do with my life- to share what I lived and what I learned and help people change their own lives. I am currently studying to become a Personal Trainer and Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach and plan to return to college for a degree in Counseling.

Easy, Inexpensive and Awesomely Delicious Lentil Soup Recipe

1 lb bag Lentils (any kind)
1 can sliced carrots
1 small bag frozen pepper and onion blend
6 cups (48 oz) chicken broth
1 1/2 cup (12 oz) tomato juice (I haven't tried it yet but let me know if V8 or Clamato juice works for you)
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
salt to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

Begin by heating olive oil in 6-quart stock pot over medium heat. Ensure your lentils are rinsed well until water runs clean. Any impurities will taint the finished soup. Sauté peppers and onions with garlic until onions are translucent and peppers brown very slightly. Add Paprika, Cayenne, and Black Pepper. Stir to coat and cook another minute or so to develop the flavors of the spices. Add drained carrots and mash roughly with a potato masher. Cook another 4-5 minutes. Add lentils, broth and tomato juice. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and add salt to your liking. Puree entire mixture with a hand blender until smooth. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt. If you like a little more heat, use more cayenne pepper or experiment with hot sauces like Tabasco or Red Hot. Share what variations you come up with!

Recipe inspired by Lentil Soup recipe by Eileen Goodall

A quick comparison of Greek Yogurt and Sour Cream

(in 2 Tbsp)
Sour Cream
Plain Greek Yogurt
Calories
60
30
Fat
5g
0
Protein
1g
6g
Calcium
2% DV
6% DV
Potassium
0
60mg
You can replace Greek Yogurt for Sour Cream in most cases and it tastes delicious! It is thick and creamy- and the plain variety has a slightly sour flavor like sour cream. Half the Calories, Zero Fat, 6 times the Protein, 3 times the Calcium, plus 6

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    • Matthew Ryczko profile image
      Author

      Matthew Ryczko 5 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks PeArLrn. As anyone who has ever struggled with their weight knows, it's an ongoing battle. I am still way down from where I was, though I have to fess up to gaining about 20 pounds since last Fall. Ironically, the time I have spent studying Exercise Science, has afforded me less time for exercise LOL Temporary fluctuation though. Getting myself back on track and have lost 4 pounds in the last 10 days already!

    • profile image

      PeArLrn 5 years ago

      Wow! ;) where are you now??

    • Matthew Ryczko profile image
      Author

      Matthew Ryczko 5 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you for the encouragement and the vote up, John!

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Excellent article. Yes, I believe in this as well. I always eat breakfast - no matter what..., but I don't always eat lunch or dinner - sometimes just lunch and skip dinner or vice versa...

      Voted up

      John