Q: I eat three moderate meals a day and don’t nibble between meals. Why do I have so much trouble with my weight?
– Elise in Kansas City
A: In an effort to stem the tide, we often resort to the very eating habits that aggravate weight gain, such as limiting our food intake to two or three meals each day. Instead the research shows that we might be better off eating more often, not less. Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health report that women between the ages of 35 and 69 who divided their food intakes into several little meals and snacks throughout the day were leaner with less body fat than were women who ate the same calories, but packed them into two or three big meals. The benefits of dividing your intake into several small meals and snacks each day extend beyond your waistline. Nibbling lowers blood cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and insulin levels, and improves insulin sensitivity. The trickle down effect on health is a lowered risk of diabetes, heart disease (the number one health concern for postmenopausal women), and possibly even cancers of the colon and breast. Finally, eating breakfast and eating at consistent times each day also curbs hunger and prevents overeating later in the day. For example, researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee found that women who ate breakfast had an easier time controlling cravings and consumed less fat throughout the day compared to breakfast skippers. -Elizabeth Somer