Eating more often, but smaller amounts at a time, is a good idea for everybody, but it can be particularly helpful for people who have Diabetes type 2.
What small meals do for diabetics
Small meals, spaced through the day, about 2 ½ to 3 hours translate into more stable blood sugar throughout the day. Smaller meals generally result in smaller blood glucose responses, requiring less insulin. All this translates into a better control of blood glucose in people with diabetes type 2.
It makes sense that the bigger the meal, the larger number of calories eaten from carbohydrates, fat, and protein and the higher the blood levels of these nutrients will be after a large meal.
But if you eat smaller meals, your blood sugar and consequently your insulin levels will not go as high. In addition, a smaller meal will make you feel lighter and with more energy to move around. The more physically active, the more calories you will burn during the day. And don’t forget that physical activity acts like insulin in the body.
Other benefits of smaller meals
Eating smaller more frequent meals is great for appetite control. The more stable blood sugar keep us from getting overly hungry, which can lead to overeating or making high-fat or high-sugar food choices.
Research has shown that obesity was less common in people who ate more frequent meals. People who eat smaller, more frequent meals are less likely to overeat at any meal.
Larger meals flood your bloodstream with a load of fat, protein, and carbohydrate calories and your body has to get rid of any extra calories. Those calories are converted into fat and stored in your cells.
Avoiding large meals you also prevent quick rises of triglycerides (triglycerides is the scientific name for fat) in your blood. Triglycerides go up after fatty meals.
The body uses calories to process, digest, and absorb the food you eat. Thus, if you eat 5 times instead of two, your body will use more calories in processing the food.
How many smaller meals during the day?
Experts have not yet determined the ideal eating pattern for weight loss, but so far it seems that the closer together the meals are, the better the results. The longer the gap between a previous meal or snack and dinner, for example, the larger the dinner typically ends up being.
Here is the sequence to follow:
• Small breakfast
• Midmorning snack
• Light lunch
• Afternoon snack
• Light dinner
• Nighttime snack
The best advice I can give you is to space your meals according to your individual schedule, when you tend to get hungry.
Don’t eat a big meal at night
We burn 70 percent of our calories during the day. However, in the United States we tend to eat the majority of calories during the evening hours. If you have been eating small meals during the day, eating when you were hungry, and stopping when you felt “confortable”, it should be easier to avoid eating large dinners, and evening desserts and snacks. Keep in mind that what you eat in the evening will raise your blood sugar and insulin levels when you go to bed.
Eating at restaurants
Our whole society is based on three meals a day, with dinner typically being the largest meal of the day. If you eat out often, it becomes particularly difficult not to eat a large meal because restaurants serve large meals, period.
It requires a strong will power to only eat half of what they serve you and save the rest for later. If you are having spaghetti, you could eat the salad and half your entrée, save the garlic bread and the rest of your spaghetti for later or the next day. I am not saying it is easy but you can do it.
Depending on the exact composition and size of your meal, your blood sugar begins to rise 10 to 60 minutes after eating and peaks about 1 ½ to 2 hours after the meal.
If you are on insulin or other medications, your meals and medications need to fit together well. Your meals need to be spaced according to the type of insulin you are taking and its period of peak action.
It is important you discuss your new eating habits with your doctor or certified diabetes educator first, because they can help modify your medications accordingly.