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Every one of us makes personal nutritional choices. Besides our customary habits, our values and culture also influence these choices. Eating in an ideally well-rounded manner is not always possible either due to issues such as hurry or financial situation. The most important thing is to pay more attention to the big picture and nutritional variety than to single meals. In a functional whole, the most important choices are those that form the core of your everyday diet.

No single ingredient is in itself better than others. Giving yourself treats is also a part of nutrition. The most important thing is how much and how often you eat each foodstuff.

Regular meal rhythm helps in everyday life

The benefit of eating regularly is that hunger never grows too great and energy levels stay high. Additionally, regular meals help keep portion sizes moderate, which helps in weight management. The lure of snacking and binging on food also decreases.

A regular meal rhythm is achieved by having approximately the same number of meals every day at approximately the same times. Eating around every 4–5 hours keeps blood sugar levels steady, which maintains energy and strength.

Each meal of the day gives you energy

If you eat around every four hours, your day will include about five meals. Breakfast is an important start to the day and gives you energy for the morning. If you do not have the appetite for breakfast immediately after waking up, you could consider taking a packed breakfast with you to eat after getting to your study place, for instance.

Eating lunch gives you energy for afternoon’s work, while a snack in the afternoon refreshes you and makes exercising before dinner possible. Additionally, a snack can help you avoid binging on food after getting home or succumbing to buying goodies on your way home.

Dinner is a meal that provides you with energy for the evening. An evening snack, on the other hand, has the function of securing restful sleep for the night and giving your body the energy to renew itself.

Find the rhythm that suits you best

The traditional meal rhythm depicted above does not suit everyone. Someone might eat less in the morning but more at lunch and as an afternoon snack, whereas someone else enjoys a generous breakfast and lunch but has no snacks.

You will be able to find the meal rhythm that suits you best by listening to your feelings of hunger and fullness and by monitoring your energy levels. In other words, follow your own sensations instead of the clock. If you can avoid a massive hunger during the day and do not experience any notable slumps in your energy levels, you are probably following a suitable meal rhythm.

Do your emotions affect your eating?

Eating can sometimes be related to mood swings and emotions. Sometimes we eat to our sorrow – to comfort or calm ourselves. We might want to alleviate feelings of stress, boredom or distress by eating. This might make us feel better for a moment, but the negative feeling will return – sometimes stronger than before.

If you realise you are eating for some other reason than hunger, pause and listen to your mood and emotions. You can also think of the situations that cause you to eat emotionally. Do they share something in common? When you identify the factors that cause you to eat emotionally, you are better equipped to anticipate and control them.

Try to think of other solutions to feeling bad than eating. Could you message or talk to a friend, go for a walk or listen to music?

You can also use small everyday acts to try and influence eating emotionally and prevent it from controlling your life. You can keep your cupboards empty of snacks, which forces you to put in more effort to satisfy your cravings.

 The benefit of eating regularly is that hunger never grows too great and energy levels stay high.