Eating on Demand and Counting Calories

There is an argument now about how people trying to count calories and lose weight should distribute their total calorie intake throughout the day. One school of thought says that if you are eating 1200 calories daily, you should make sure you are eating 450 in the morning, 450 at lunch and tea and only 300 at night. The others say it can be 200 cals for breakfast, 200 cals at lunch and 800 cals for dinner making a total of 1200 calories in the day. Similarly during the last few decades there has been a lot of debate about whether babies should be demand fed that is given milk (breast or bottle) whenever they want or whether it is better to follow a schedule of a gap of 2-3 hours between each feed.

From the weight control point of view we believe that from the new born baby stage a systematic feeding schedule is the ideal. When a baby has been fed at 5-6am in the morning the mother usually has rested through the night and her milk production by nature is the highest. The baby is able to get a stomach full of milk and will usually sleep again or not require another feed till 8-9 am. At this time too, the milk production is good and again, the baby if well fed will not require another feed till 11 am or 12 noon. This is usually the human nature and the body system. If set at infancy and followed throughout the life time it can pave the way for a strong, healthy life.

All human beings thrive under a good morning food intake which is very important as one is fasting from 9pm at night to at least 6am in the morning. We need to break that fast and eat a healthy carbohydrate, protein balanced meal. Having only coffee, glass of milk or just a juice or fruits for breakfast and then eating more heavily during the later part of the day is definitely not sensible.

Usually after a bed coffee at 6 and breakfast at 8-9 am you will find that you may start feeling a little empty around 10.30-11.30 am which is the typical baby pattern of a 2-3 hours gap between milk feeds that most human babies exhibit. The ideal is to eat a fruit or have at least a cup of coffee, tea or buttermilk at this time. Biscuits and other snacks are not at all advisable here.

12.30-1.30 or 2pm is the ideal time for lunch. The ideal gap between breakfast and lunch is 4-5 hours. Lunch is a very important meal and should be the anchor meal of the day. It must again be a carbohydrate, protein balanced meal consisting of roti/rice with dhal/sambar and cooked and raw vegetables. It is very important as we have to work after lunch till late evening and the gap between lunch and dinner is much longer. As this duration could be 6-7 hours we usually recommend two snacks during this time.

Tea time is 4-5 pm and a glass of milk, tea or coffee along with biscuits or bread sandwich is the ideal snack at this time. When you reach home at 6 or 7 pm a fruit and a glass of milk is ideal. This becomes a second snack. You may have another cup of coffee or tea here but definitely avoid fried foods, sweets and pastries at this time.

Dinner ideally must be between 7.30 -9pm and must consist of only 20% of the total calorie intake as we are going to bed thereafter. However it must be a carbohydrate and protein balanced meal like roti, dhal and salad. It is very harmful to have only a soup, salad or only a glass of milk for dinner. A meal of only roti and sabji does not contain enough protein so dhal is a must with dinner and in order to reduce the calorie intake we recommend avoiding the sabji and substituting this with salad. A good amount of salad, that is one or two cups will help to raise the metabolism and therefore burn more calories too.

If you eat 50% or 70% of your calorie intake for dinner the body will store 30-50% of the calories as fat when you sleep.

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