How many times have we heard how important it is to eat little and 5 times a day! Well, this recommendation is no longer as valid today as it used to be. Or, rather, it may be valid for losing weight, but not if what we also want is to strengthen our intestinal microbiota to have a stronger immune system. “The stomach must rest so that our intestinal flora has time to regenerate – explains Vanessa Martín, nutritionist at IVADI in La Salud – and if we are eating food every few hours, we do not let that process take place,” he adds. “Currently it seems that we can not spend 2 hours without eating something and that is not normal. You have to eat when you’re hungry -he explains- but our generation doesn’t know what true hunger is.
What we say is hunger, it really is not. With three intakes a day is enough», sentence.
In his opinion, stress and anxiety added to advertising and the relationship in our culture between leisure and food, make us need to be eating and snacking to, supposedly, feel better. “Not only is this not the case because when we eat out of anxiety what we are doing is hiding the real problem that does not cause this discomfort, but it is also causing us a health problem since the snacks we eat are rarely healthy and also we eat them unconsciously, without focusing, savoring and enjoying what we are eating”, he suggests.
Children can leave home without breakfast
We are transferring all this erroneous and unhealthy way of relating to food to the little ones, warns this nutritionist. “Nothing happens because children eat little or because they leave the house without breakfast”, says Vanessa Martin. “It is preferable that they drink a glass of milk or a vegetable drink when they get up and then have something healthy for lunch at school, such as a sandwich of wholemeal bread (avoiding supermarket bread) with a quality ham or tuna or a fruit with a handful of nuts, to have chocolate milk and cookies or muffins for breakfast at home,” she suggests. This type of food has a very high glycemic index that will cause them to have a peak of energy that later, when they are in class, will drop quickly and also will not take away their hunger. Likewise, what children should not take except in very exceptional cases are processed foods, pastries, cold meats, donuts, juices in bricks, soft drinks or flavored milkshakes.
“We must get used to eating foods that release sugar constantly and continuously for several hours, such as whole grain breads and cereals, because they will fill us up and are also much healthier,” says Martín. In this sense, an ideal breakfast, if we do not want to have lunch, would be a vegetable drink with microwaved oat flakes to be cooked with coffee or tea and a piece of fruit with a few nuts. “A breakfast like this contains protein, carbohydrates and fruit, which is what each of the intakes we make must contain so that our diet is balanced,” says this expert.
As for milk, says Martín, cow milk is not an essential food for children or adults. “There are many foods that have a lot of calcium such as natural yogurts, cheese, nuts, dates, parsley, broccoli…”, list. If we prefer not to have breakfast, for lunch it is ideal to have a coffee or tea with a piece of fruit, a handful of nuts and a couple of whole-grain biscuits with tuna or avocado. The snacks, he indicates, “better not to make them to let the digestive system rest until dinner, but if we cannot avoid it, we could have a natural yogurt with a fruit, with an ounce of dark chocolate melted in the microwave or some smoothie red fruits within”.
Do not use food as a reward or punishment
The most important thing is to get the little ones used to this way of eating and not to use food either as a reward or as a punishment. Food should be a pleasure. You have to enjoy it and understand it. « It is a good idea for this to happen, involving children in the preparation of meals. It is very different to eat a tomato that you have cut, than one that your parents have put on the table for you -explains Vanessa Martín-. In addition, we must be aware that they may not like everything we give them. Nothing happens. You have to try and repeat from time to time flavors prepared in different ways.