There are many “experts” telling us what we should and shouldn’t eat. Low fat – high carb; low carb – high fat; vegan, keto, and all kinds of other diet theories.
Every fad diet sounds convincing – and it’s easy to keep falling for them.
But the truth is more simple. My research and practical experience during the past 40+ years has led me to believe there is one cause of chronic illness today, which stands out above everything else.
It is the habit of snacking between meals.
I’m old enough to remember the days when most people did not eat snacks – at least, not regularly. When I was a child (in the 1960’s) if I asked my mother for something to eat in the late afternoon, she would tell me “No, it will spoil your dinner.” I had to wait. I think most mothers were the same in those days.
But today’s kids are eating snack foods all day long – and then turning up their nose at good food on their plate at meal time. Who knows what price they will pay in poor health later in life.
It’s NOT a good idea to eat frequent, small meals
Many nutritionists today have been trained to believe we should eat several small meals a day – never let more than two or three hours go by without eating. This is standard advice for people with hypoglycemia.
I believe it is absolutely wrong. First, I’ve proved it myself, by observing how I feel when I eat frequent snacks. I feel terrible.
My recovery from chronic fatigue syndrome and hypoglycemia came when I finally made a rule to eat just three meals a day and NO SNACKS. I stuck to this religiously for about 18 months and the transformation in my health was astonishing.
In later years, with the pressures of business and family life, I slipped back into snacking (and caffeine consumption) and I paid the price with my health.
But today I am back to three meals a day, and enjoying the benefits.
Humans are designed to survive without food
In the modern world, we can reach for food at any time of the day or night. But it wasn’t this way for most of human history. Sometimes, people had to go for days without eating.
Traditional societies around the world eat just three meals a day. They take time to prepare food for each meal and then sit down together and eat it. They don’t just grab food on the run.
Even today, the French still generally stick to the practice of just three meals and day, and eat few snacks. Likewise in many Asian countries such as Korea, Japan and China. Unfortunately, American culture is gradually spreading to these countries, among the younger generation, and they are starting to snack – and getting more chronic diseases too.
You won’t die if you go without food for 5 or 6 hours!
Unstable blood sugar seems to be at the root cause of many chronic diseases – in fact, some experts believe it is behind most chronic diseases.
Type 2 Diabetes is the fastest growing disease in the modern world. Many people have diabetes and don’t even know it. Even more people have pre-diabetes, which will eventually lead to diabetes if they don’t change their eating habits.
There’s a wider condition known as “metabolic syndrome”, which is related to high blood sugar and insulin resistance. This is a factor in heart disease and probably even cancer.
Many experts recommend “intermittent fasting” to counter diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Generally, this goes along with a low-carb or ketogenic diet.
Intermittent fasting generally involves going without food for 16 hours a day – and eating your meals in a window of just eight hours. So, you might skip breakfast and just eat lunch and dinner.
For people who are overweight and suffering from Type 2 Diabetes, there can be huge benefits from intermittent fasting. But I don’t believe it is necessary for everyone – or even for most people.
A much simpler way, which you can live with for the rest of your life, is to eat three meals a day and no snacks. But cutting out snacks, you are “fasting” for 5 or 6 hours between meals. This might not seem like much of a fast. But if you have been in the habit of eating every two or three hours, you will probably find it tough to begin with.
You might feel like you are going to die if you don’t get that snack now!
The key is to eat the right foods at meals
If you’ve followed my blog posts and emails, you will know I don’t recommend any of the current fad diets. I believe in a balanced, omnivore diet i.e. eating normal foods that are traditional to whatever part of the world your ancestors came from.
For example, since I am of British ancestry, I do best on traditional British foods. If your ancestors are from Asia, you will probably do best on traditional Asian meals. Just keep it simple.
There’s an easy way to know whether you are eating balanced meals that suit your metabolism. If you feel hungry and hypoglycemic a couple of hours after eating a meal, then you ate the wrong foods (for your body type). If you can go for 5 or 6 hours until the next meal, then you ate their right balance of foods.
Usually, the reason your blood sugar crashes between meals is due to eating too little fat, or complex carbohydrate. I am firmly against low fat diets. (I am also against crazy high-fat keto diets. There is such as thing as moderation, which seems to have been forgotten today.)
Eat the right balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate for YOUR needs. Only you know what this is, by how you feel a few hours after a meal.
If you make it a rule to eat only three times a day, then you quickly figure out what to eat at each meal.
Obviously, if you suffer a serious hypoglycemic episode, then you should eat a snack. But this should be a temporary solution, until you figure out the meals that keep your blood sugar balanced for 5 to 6 hours.
You might need to snack initially until your body adapts to a 5 or 6 hour “fast” between meals. But stick with it, and the snacks will become fewer.
General rules for fantastic health
1. No snacks between meals.
2. Wait at least five hours between meals. That equates to three hours digesting, then at least two hours of burning fat and eliminating toxins.
3. Eat balanced meals of good, wholesome food that is traditional for your culture. Don’t fear any food. Unless you suffer an acute reaction to a specific food, it’s OK to eat meat, eggs, fish, vegetables, fruit and so on.
4. Avoid processed foods with artificial ingredients. This is common sense. Anything that has a long list of flavourings, colouring, stabilisers, and preservatives etc.
5. Eat when you are hungry. Do NOT eat when you are not hungry.
With time, this will become easier. Your body will become more efficient at running off your fat stores. Your blood sugar will stablize. Your health will improve.
I challenge you to eat just three balanced meals a day for the next 30 days. You will be amazed how much better you feel.