What You’ll Need To Eat Five Small Meals A Day
After having my first low blood sugar episode that was so frightening I thought I had to go to the hospital, I started giving serious consideration to my doctor’s advice to eat five small meals a day. Let me tell you how I ate before: coffee at 9am, a huge meal at 3pm, and a huge meal at 9pm. That’s only two meals a day, separated by long stretches without food. The coffee had a way of filling up my stomach and covering up the fact that I needed nourishment, but the reality is that I was running on fumes from 9pm at night until 3pm the following day. That’s 18 hours without food. Eighteen hours. When I lay it out like that, I’m shocked I didn’t have that awful low blood sugar episode sooner. And it was awful. My body temperature dropped, but I was also sweating, I began to shake, my vision was spotty, and I felt nauseous. Don’t let it happen to you; eat regularly. Here are tips you’ll need if you’re going to start eating five small meals a day.
Eat around these times
Have breakfast around 8 or 9 in the morning, enjoy your mid-morning snack around 10 or 11 am, munch down on lunch between noon and 2 pm, devour your mid-afternoon snack around 3 or 4 pm, and sit down to dinner between 6 and 8 in the evening. It’s a nice 12-hour food cycle.
Non-perishable fruits will be your friends when you’re busy and trying to eat five small meals. You can keep apples, bananas, oranges, peaches, apricots, nectarines, and plums on the counter for several days and they won’t go bad. Have a basket on your desk and kitchen counter to pair with some protein, which we will get to.
Portion off one-fourth-cup servings of whole nuts into little snack bags, or buy ready-to-go pouches of nut butter (around two-tablespoon servings). Pair these with your non-perishable fruit for your mid-morning snack for fiber, healthy fat, and protein.
If you do have access to a refrigerator throughout the day, bring cottage cheese. It’s a wonderful, low-fat source of protein. And the good news for those with digestive issues is that it’s Low FODMAP-friendly.
Stock up on Ziplock bags. You can never have enough! Yes, go for the ten boxes for ten dollars deal at the grocery store. If you do this five-meals-a-day thing right, you’ll easily go through four or five little baggies a day.
A cooler bag
A cooler bag is a great option if you won’t have access to a refrigerator. With a cooler bag, you won’t be limited to non-perishables. Many can keep food cold for several hours, so you can stash cottage cheese or hardboiled eggs in here.
Breakfast first thing
Having breakfast first thing in the morning will help you start off on the right foot. Don’t answer one email or even wash your face until you’ve had breakfast—you know how easy it is to forget to eat once the day begins.
Find some good protein bars that you enjoy, and that aren’t loaded with artificial ingredients. Kind and Lara bars are great, and tend to offer a nice burst of protein. They can be pricey if you buy them individually, so invest in a full box.
Tuna and mayo packets
Canned tuna and packets of mayonnaise are non-perishable until opened, so stock up on these and spread them on some rye bread or dark crackers to add fiber.
Plenty of Tupperware
You’ll be surprised how many different sizes and shapes of Tupperware you’ll need. You’ll want tiny bowls to pack your homemade salad dressing, starter salad-size Tupperware, long flat ones for noodles…just get a quality, diverse set.
A private place to eat hardboiled eggs
Eggs are one of the most efficient forms of protein. Our bodies use almost 100 percent of the protein provided by this food. That being said, your coworkers may not love it if you eat hard boiled eggs in the office. So take a stroll and eat this protein powerhouse outside for your mid-afternoon snack.
A really good blender
Super busy individuals will have to go the smoothie route. Just get a powerful blender so you can add tofu, hemp seeds, nuts, oats, and other protein sources that taste nice in a smoothie.
Veggies and hummus
Veggies and hummus make for the perfect mid-afternoon snack. Slice up some celery, carrots, and cucumbers—the water content will perk you up—and dip them in protein-loaded hummus.
Have a light lunch
One part of eating five small meals a day that many people struggle with is easing up on the major meals. But if you overload at lunch, you won’t want to eat your mid-afternoon snack, and you’ll be headed for blood sugar fluctuations. The idea is to keep your blood sugar stable, rather than sending it up and down. So just eat enough at lunch so you’re comfortably satisfied.
Have a light dinner
It’s also important that you don’t gorge on a big dinner, even if that’s how you unwind from work. You don’t want to feel so full the next morning that you skip breakfast, throwing you off your schedule.