Time Between Feedings · 13 April 2013

I used to believe the health gurus who said that we need to eat every four to five hours. Now, I am not so sure.

If you read much about dieting, a common mantra is that we need to eat every four hours. Five at the most. The health and fitness gurus repeat this mantra so much that we all believe we need to eat on that sort of time schedule in order to keep from overeating. As I have eaten closer to a whole foods, plant-based diet, I am not so sure this time between feedings is applicable.

I got to thinking about this feeding time issue after watching the Michael Mosley show about fasting. At one point in the show when he was on a three-day, four-night fast, he said that hunger does not build, but comes in waves. In the book, Eat to Live, Dr. Fuhrman says something along the lines that true hunger is not felt in the stomach but gives our taste buds heightened sensitivity. These two thoughts and my own schedule have helped me to question whether the gurus might be wrong.

My own experience with eating has been that when my blood sugar gets too low, I am cranky and irritated. I cannot even see it until I actually erupt. As I have had more of an almost vegan or macrobiotic diet, I have had more consistent blood sugar levels. Consequently, I have not had as many cranky episodes. Even when I have not eaten for long periods of time.

I am not saying that these episodes of irritability have not come, but I know that when I keep my blood sugar levels from spiking, I am much more level headed. I am not as cranky. Which brings me back to Eat to Live and the thought of sugar addiction. The crankiness, irritability, and famished feelings do not come from long periods between meals. They come as a result of needing a sugar fix.

In light of all the information I have gathered from books, shows, and my own experience, I do not think most people need to feed every four hours. Diabetics and others who have problems regulating blood sugar levels need this time between eating to stay consistent, but most of us can keep from overeating when we have long periods between eating simply by eating healthy and keeping processed foods out of our diets.

Maybe I am crazy saying something contrary to the health and fitness wisdom of our time, but I am becoming more and more convinced that at the very least, my own need to eat every four to five hours comes not from necessity but rather habit and a need to indulge my sugar addiction.

Of course, I could be wrong. But at the very least, we ought to question if the health gurus have all the answers.

© 2013 Michael T. Miyoshi

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