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WOW Nutrition Corner: Timing is Everything!

11.29.2011 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

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Welcome back to the WOW Nutrition Corner ladies! Be sure to leave any of your own nutrition questions in the comments section below to have them addressed in a future post. This week, the Redskins team nutritionist, Jane Jakubczak, discusses the third and final principle of healthy eating - meal and snack timing. You can also click here to review the first two healthy eating principles from Jane's previous blog posts.

Often as a dietitian, I turn to the infant and toddler as an untarnished example of proper nutritional patterns. If you have spent any amount of time with an infant, you know they need to be fed every two to three hours.

With toddlers, regularly scheduled meals with snacks always on hand, is an essential part of their daily life. These are proper dietary patterns we are born with, yet these patterns are pushed aside as soon as our busy lives take over.

To allow our natural weight regulator to work properly, we must get back to refueling our body regularly throughout the day (click here to revisit Jane's post on the natural weight regulator).

The human body performs best when fueled every three to four hours. This pattern allows us to enjoy a meal every six hours and a snack every three hours.

This pattern of eating achieves the following:

Keeps your metabolism humming along at a healthy rate

Every time you eat, your metabolism increases; this is called the Thermodynamics of Food (TDF). TDF is the amount of energy (calories) your body burns to convert food into energy. Your body spends energy digesting, transporting and absorbing your meal or snack. Depending on the size and composition of this meal/snack, the TDF can be elevated for several hours.

Keeps your hunger level managed, necessary for portion control.

When we allow ourselves to get overly hungry by going long periods of time without eating our body views it as a mini famine. To compensate, we will tend to eat 125 percent of what we would have normally eaten if we kept our hunger managed.

Keeps your blood sugar managed, necessary to make smart food choices.

When our body is in a significant energy deficit, the body’s main concern is getting quick, efficient energy. Sugar and fats meet this criterion of quick, easy calories. Therefore when you are extremely hungry you will tend to go for high fat and/or sugary food.

Keeps your energy level and ability to focus optimal.

When we provide our body with a slow, consistent infusion of nutrients we will experience a consistent level of energy and avoid the energy crashes throughout the day. We can focus when our body is well fueled, instead of being distracted by “food thoughts”.

The goal for this week is to keep a food record and pay special attention to the “time” column. Notice times you are going more than four hours without eating. (Need more information on keeping a food record? Click here.)

Next week we will discuss strategies on how to eat consistently throughout a busy day and how your hunger and full signals play a part in this eating pattern.

Make it a healthy week!
- Jane

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