Are you busy?
That might be a silly question. We’re all super busy in this fast-paced world. And among all this busy-ness, we claim we don’t have time to eat; or we somehow forget to eat in the midst of all this chaos.
But if you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle and lose weight, that’s probably hindering your progress. That’s why I schedule my meal times- to make sure I don’t get too hungry. And don’t worry if that seems rigid- Keep reading because it’s not as strict as it seems!
If you’re one of the busy ones that forgets to eat and then overeats later, pay attention to the following tips:
Does meal timing affect weight loss? here’s how eating on a regular schedule helps:
Your hunger levels stay manageable
Have you ever skipped a meal- like breakfast, because you have to run out the door? What happens about an hour later? You’re probably starving, so you grab whatever’s around. Possibly the donuts at work, and you know it’s hard to have just one.
The problem with skipping a meal and forgetting to eat is that your hunger levels get out of whack. You get so hungry by lunchtime that you eat everything in sight- which can mean extra calories and getting out of touch with your fullness sensors.
Being prepared is KEY to eating healthier and losing weight. Preparing a hearty breakfast ahead of time, like a breakfast burrito, can still let you rush out the door but not starve.
You’re more likely to make healthier choices
Like I said above, you need to be prepared ahead of time. The donuts at work are a nice treat on occasion, but straight carbs won’t keep you satisfied for long. If you know you’ve brought a delicious bag of homemade trail mix, you’re more likely to eat that when the hunger comes again.
How to schedule your meal times
One thing to remember is that you don’t have to eat at the exact same time every day. That’s not realistic and could mess up your hunger cues if you keep eating when you’re not hungry.
Many people will disagree with me on this- but I believe eating every 2-3 hours helps regulate your hunger and keeps your energy up. There are many benefits to intermittent fasting, but that doesn’t work for everyone.
The steps below are what I follow and has helped me maintain my weight for years.
Write down a rough outline of your day
What does your schedule typically look like? What time do you get up? What time do you go to work? Do you have multiple meetings throughout the day and lunch is never at the same time? Write down a general idea of what your day looks like.
As an example, I wake up at 4:00 AM every morning. I have to get Allison on the bus at 8:30, and then I have work to do at home. I pick her up at 3:30 PM, with dinner being around 5:00 and 8:00 being her bedtime. I’m usually in bed by 9:00.
Create a general eating schedule
Keep in mind that your meals don’t have to be on the dot, nor should they be. A general range is fine- just somewhere within the hour.
Like I said above, I wake up at 4:00 every morning. By 6:30 AM, I’m super hungry so that’s my breakfast time. Lunchtime for the general population is around noon- so I can’t possibly go 5 1/2 hours without eating something. My snack is somewhere in the middle- sometimes 9:00, sometimes 10:00, but always in that range. It’s never exact and doesn’t need to be.
Here’s my typical eating schedule, give or take:
- 6:30 AM: Breakfast
- 9:30 AM: Snack
- 12:00 PM: Lunch
- 2:30 PM: Snack
- 5:00 PM: Dinner
- 7:00 PM: Snack
Yes, I eat 6 meals a day. But I also wake up super early and eat my first meal super early. Most people aren’t even awake at 6:30, so they can push back their breakfast time and may not need a morning snack to last them until noon.
As you can see, it’ll be different for everyone. It’ll never be exact, but having a general outline is SO important for keeping you on track.
Leave me a comment and tell me: Do you need to start loosely scheduling your meals? If you already do, what does your day look like?
I go more into depth on exercise in my NEW course, Weight Loss Kickstart! Originally a group program, I modified it into a self-paced course (and at a lower price, too!) so you can take your time with it and learn the healthy habits that come with weight loss.
Want more like this? Check out the other posts in my Healthy Habits, Healthy Life series!
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.