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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How many meals should I eat per day?

    Related Topic
    I always thought that the typical meal schedule consisted of breakfast lunch and dinner. However I have heard it's better to eat more (but smaller) meals throughout the day. What is the ideal number and size of meals?
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  • Fiona Willer

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    As well as taking the helm at NutritionSense Dietitians and Allied Health, Fiona has been a lecturer and clinical educator in Nutrition and Dietetics at … View Profile

    Be guided by your appetite.  Try to eat when you are hungry and stop when your hunger has dissolved.  If you are getting hungry in between meals while eating to your appetite then 3 meals plus snacks is ideal for you. Non-hungry eating, even of healthy foods, can impact considerably on kilojoule intake and therefore weight status.   It is normal for some days to be ‘hungrier’ days than others.  Factors like fatigue, dehydration and stress can all influence the way you perceive your appetite, so doing your best to look after your whole self is important.  Eating to your appetite helps you roll with the normal metabolic fluctuations of the body and helps to reduce obsessing about food and unneccesary food rules.  Normal, natural, healthy eating is all about flexibility, variety and listening to your body's cues. 

  • Jess grew up in country Western Australia, and moved to Perth for university in order to study her growing passion in nutrition. Jess commenced practicing … View Profile

    Hi !,

    This is a great question.

    It is important that you listen to your body's hunger and satiety cues. Some people are a ‘3 meals a day’ type and don’t feel the need to snack in between. If this is the case, I would generally go along with this pattern (ie; I wouldn’t suggest they have snacks in between), but portion sizes is something you would want to keep an eye on. 
    I also see people all the time who say “I just cannot go without my morning tea and afternoon tea snack”. This is OK too! It is just important to look at the types of snacks you’re having and ensuring they are nutrient dense, not energy dense.

    If you are snacking, it's also important to ask yourself if you are physically hungry between meals.
    Or are you just eating because it’s there? Out of boredom? Habit? Everyone else is having some of the birthday cake at work? If you are not hungry between meals - then it is best to not eat.

    This is not to say to skip meals either. If you are not so hungry at lunch time, just have a smaller lunch than you normally do. It is completely normal to be more hungry on some days and less hungry on other days, or feeling like a snack in the morning, but not the afternoon it’s all about finding that balance.

    This question highlights how different everyone as individuals are and therefore it’s important to get personalised advice from an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

    Cheers,

    Jessica Butcher
    Accredited Practising Dietitian
    Melbourne CBD

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