by Shara Aaron, MS, RD and Monica Bearden, RD
As a child, you were taught that you should eat three meals a day. Eating this way can be good for some. But for others, eating 5 to 6 times a day keeps their blood sugar more even and can help with weight control.
Eating more often works with mini meals, more than a snack but less than a full meal. A mini meal should be well balanced. It should include fiber, protein, and small amounts of fat. This can help you to feel fuller longer. Meals or snacks that are heavier on sweets or fatty foods will be less satisfying and can easily lead to overeating. overweight.
Your mini meal should include a range of food groups. This will also help you get the vitamins and nutrients you need. Here are some examples of mini meals that you can try!
|Suggested Mini Meals||Nutrients|
|6 ounces low fat yogurt; ¼ cup raisins; 2 tablespoons peanuts||Calcium, iron, protein, vitamin E, monounsaturated fats|
|½ whole wheat pita, 2 tablespoons hummus, 1 slice roasted red pepper; 1 piece low fat string cheese||Fiber, vitamin C, calcium, protein|
|1 whole wheat English muffin, 2 ounces canned tuna fish, 1 ounce Muenster cheese melted on top; ½ cup baby carrots with light dip||Fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, vitamin A|
If you need more ideas to create your mini meals, visit the US Department of Agriculture's Choose MyPlate website, which lists healthy foods from the 5 food groups.
Everyone’s needs are different based on physiology and lifestyle. Finding an eating pattern that gives you the nutrients and energy you need is key to a healthy and active life.
If you eat 3 meals a day but get tired in the middle of the morning, then smaller, more frequent meals may be right for you. Or, if you are often hungry and eating throughout the day, 3 larger meals with fiber, carbohydrates, protein, and a small amount of fat may be the answer for you.
When trying a new eating pattern, make sure to stay on the new schedule for at least 2 weeks to let your body get used to it.
Choose My Plate—US Department of Agriculture
Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Dietitians of Canada
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Farshchi H, Taylor M, MacDonald I. Beneficial metabolic effects of regular meal frequency on dietary thermogenesis, insulin sensitivity, and fasting lipid profiles in healthy obese women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81(1):16-24.
Nutrition for weight loss: What you need to know about fad diets. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/nutrition-weight-loss-need-know-fad-diets. Accessed November 9, 2020.
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Last reviewed November 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 11/9/2020