Healthy diet – meal times
Meal times depend very much on your daily schedule. What is important is that you always try to eat at roughly the same times. So you will have to find a pattern for your meals based on your daily schedule.
Of course, you have breakfast in the morning when you get up. To bring some regularity into your life, make sure you get up at the same time every day. Many people look forward to sleeping in at the weekend. However, try not to get up more than an hour later than usual to prevent your body from losing its structure.
For example, if you get up at 7 a.m. all week, make sure that you get up between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. at the weekend. After a while your body will get used to this and you will automatically wake up at the usual time and feel rested because your body is adjusted to it.
You will also automatically have breakfast at around the same time every day. This also becomes "routine" for your body and you will automatically feel hungry around breakfast time.
It is best to plan your morning snack exactly between your breakfast and lunch. For example, if you had breakfast at 8 a.m. and are going to eat lunch at noon, then you should eat your snack at around 10 a.m. It is not a matter of a quarter of an hour, but of course it is not the intention that you eat your snack an hour after breakfast. That way you will start to feel hungry again too soon and you will be tempted to eat an extra snack in the morning. If you eat your snack too late, too shortly before your lunch, you will not have enough appetite for lunch and will not be able to enjoy your meal. What's more, you might not even finish your lunch, which means you won't have the energy you need to get through the afternoon.
Always have your lunch at around the same time. Usually this works: lunch breaks at work or school are usually at a fixed time. Of course, there are people who work in different shifts or who cannot always take a break at the same time because of meetings or travel. But try to make sure that you deviate from your pattern as little as possible.
Also avoid meetings or working while eating. Relax while eating. Enjoy your meal and let your body concentrate on its metabolism (= converting calories into energy for your body).
Tip for work: if the weather permits, you can have a picnic outside. Avoid eating at your desk in particular. This will prevent a colleague from talking to you about work, and you from picking up the phone or answering an e-mail.
Here too, try to eat your snack exactly between lunch and dinner, just like the morning snack.
Tip for long bridging periods: if there is a lot of time between lunch and dinner (or between breakfast and lunch), you can split your snack. Attention: it is not the intention that you have two snacks in between. Just divide your portion into two. For example, if you choose fruit as a snack, then do not eat two pieces of fruit, but divide your fruit in half so that you can eat it in two goes.
Here it is especially important that you do not eat too late. Make sure that your body has at least two hours after the evening meal to process the food before you go to sleep. Try to do some exercise - it doesn't have to be intensive, just walking around the house is enough - to use up the energy you have absorbed.
Here too, the following rule applies: try as far as possible to eat at a fixed time and go to bed at a fixed time. This way, your body gets used to the rhythm. You get hungry at the right time, you get tired at the right time, you fall asleep easier and you wake up feeling rested.
As with getting up, it is best not to go to sleep more than an hour later at the weekends than the rest of the week in order to deviate from your sleeping pattern as little as possible.
- Translated from Dutch by Tamara Swalef -