Should You Eat Every 2 Hours?

'Should I be eating every 2 hours or so?' A common question, that I was asked again today. Here are a few thoughts on it.

If you wake up at 7am, eating every 2 hours is around 7 meals per day if your last one is at 7pm. I have also been asked if we should eat 5 meals per day. This approach stems from the idea that its better to 'be a grazer not a gorger', and I can see how it makes sense on some level. However, in my decade plus experience in dealing with real life people who have real life jobs, responsibilities, and lives, this is mostly unrealistic. Imagine a surgeon taking a time out from the triple by pass she is doing to have her 11am mini-meal from her Tupperware, or a parent side-lining their parenting duties lest they don’t eat for more than 4 hours. I also personally don’t think we need to be constantly fed to such a high frequency to be strong, healthy, and energetic.

What is realistic is making a positive change in relation to where you are at the moment. Nailing the first meal of the day seems to make common sense to get your day off to a good start, and to give some time and nutrition food to yourself. If you are used to takeaways, and deli rolls, then getting into the habit of cooking once per day seems like a good idea. Drinking 2-3 litres of water is hard to argue against as well. Eating a breakfast, lunch, and a dinner seems to fit with most people's schedule, and a good place to start as most of us have a natural break in the day around those times.

Keep things simple. Make the improvements that yield the greatest results. What gives the greatest results is not always the things that requires the most effort. Expertise is knowing what action to take that gives good results in relation to the effort it takes to achieve them. Be kind to yourself.

This article is by Ainle Ó Cairealláin MSc CSCS.