Finding time to eat during your busy work day is often a challenge. But skipping meals, especially breakfast, leads to fatigue and lack of concentration. Small, evenly spaced meals keep your metabolism revved up, helping your body burn calories more efficiently and keeping your blood sugar level consistent. Whether your work keeps you on the run or you work at home, planning ahead is key to fitting six small meals into your busy day.
Break down your total daily calorie intake to cover three small standard meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and three small snack meals. For example, if you're following a meal plan that allows you 1,800 calories a day, eat three 450-calorie meals and three 150-calorie snack meals each day. To make your meal planning easier, many online sites are available that provide portion size and calorie content information for most foods.
Plan to eat your three main meals in the morning before work, at midday and in the early evening. Include fresh fruits or vegetables for fiber and a combination of carbohydrate, protein and fat to help provide sustained energy until the next meal. For example, jump start your workday with a healthy breakfast consisting of cooked oatmeal with 1 percent milk, a small banana and a boiled egg.
Plan to eat one snack meal midway between breakfast and lunch and one between lunch and dinner. By keeping your snack meals small, you'll be able to eat them during your mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks. Eat your last snack meal an hour before bed to allow it to start digesting before going to sleep. Whole-grain crackers and peanut butter, apple slices and low-fat cheese or a handful of nuts are good snack choices, providing you with some fat and protein to help you feel full longer.
Stock up on nutrient-packed foods that provide healthy calories and are easy to pack and eat when you're on the go. Include foods that can be cut into small bite-size pieces and put in zip-top bags, such as fruits and vegetables. Choose healthy foods like yogurt and nuts that come prepackaged or hard-boiled eggs that are easy to carry. Avoid processed foods that fill your body with empty calories and can cause your blood sugar levels to skyrocket, then crash, resulting in fatigue and hunger.
Pack the foods you'll consume during your workday into calorie-specific portions and put them in zip-top bags. Preparing 150-calorie and 450-calorie meal bags ahead of time means you're prepared and ready to eat, no matter where your workday takes you, helping to ensure you won't miss a meal and will maintain a steady blood sugar level and high energy level.
- Allow no more than two or three hours to pass between a main meal and a snack meal, to avoid a drop in your blood sugar.
Karen Curinga has been writing published articles since 2003 and is the author of multiple books. Her articles have appeared in "UTHeath," "Catalyst" and more. Curinga is a freelance writer and certified coach/consultant who has worked with hundreds of clients. She received a Bachelor of Science in psychology.