When I use the phrase “North America” I am clearly referring to us, here in the United States. I am not being critical of Americans – just our diets!
We eat too much processed fast food, that is the bottom line. What are some of the reasons this happens? What can we do to overcome the common meal patterns and eat healthier?
Here are some of the main reasons why we fall into a trap of poor eating habits:
- We aren’t waking up early enough to have a good breakfast. We have little time to prepare, eat and digest the most important meal of the day. When we rush to eat in the morning, we tend to eat a less nutritious meal or we skip it all together.
- Another issue is that we don’t eat enough in the morning in general. This lowers our protein intake, which lowers our energy.
- If we snack in the morning or afternoon, it usually consists of processed carbs and sugar.
- Our lunches typically consist of a small amount of protein – generally a sandwich with processed bread. Worse yet, we head out for fast food.
- Dinner can be a rushed affair as well. Whether we eat at home after work or out at a restaurant or on-the-go, dinner is important. Eating at home helps us choose more wisely, which is a nutritionally balanced dinner consisting of good proteins, carbs and most of our fruit and veggie intake for the day.
- Our evening/pre-bedtime snacks are when we eat the worst of the day!
There are several problems with this meal patterning:
- I cannot stress enough that breakfast is the most important meal of the day! With this patterning, we are not getting adequate protein and nutrients throughout the morning hours. A good breakfast is needed to regulate our blood sugar after an overnight fast. It also helps to control late-day cravings that lead to poor snacks and meals.
- The bulk of our total dietary energy is distributed later in the day. Energy balance is therefore negative in the morning and positive in the evening. A better distribution of calories throughout the day keeps us nutritionally balanced.
- Eat every 2-4 hours. This helps us in several ways – it improves our overall health profile, metabolism and body composition; it leads to more frequent feeding; and it leads to a better ability to reach total calorie intake needs.
- Eat lean, complete protein with every meal. This is the easiest way to support our daily protein needs and sustain our energy. It will also improve our metabolism.
- Eat veggies with every meal. This improves our important intake of micronutrients and phytochemicals.
- Eat good fats daily. This helps to improve inflammation levels in our body.
- Finally, save high starch meals until after exercise. This is our best way to control carb intake and helps us with nutrient timing.
A great resource for following these guidelines can be found in the Five Daily Habits. Click the link to download.
Tomorrow, we will discuss ways we can improve our meal patterning..