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Eating: Get Your Mind in the Game

Find out when to eat, how much to eat, and why.
By Kerry Ludlam
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD

girl eating a strawberryDo you ever get really hungry during the day? Ever eaten so much you felt stuffed or gotten sick? You don't have to.

Thinking about when and how much to eat can help you feel your best.

When Should I Eat?

"You should really eat something every three hours," says Kristen Liebl, RD, LD, a registered dietitian with Sanford Health. "If you go much longer than that, your body pulls out its survival gear. You're so hungry that you eat too fast, and it is hard to slow down. Also, when you're really hungry, it is hard to make good choices."

You should never let yourself get so hungry that you're feeling shaky or sick to your stomach. Ask your parents to help you. To make sure you're giving your body food often enough, think about eating breakfast, a snack, lunch, an after-school snack, and dinner. Keeping your eating spaced out will keep you from being really hungry at meals and help you have energy. Make sure you eat the right-sized portions, not so much that you feel uncomfortable.

How Do I Build a Healthy Meal?

Whether you're eating a meal or a snack, you want to make sure you eat a healthy balance of three food types to give your body good energy. The three food types you should have every time you eat are protein, carbohydrates (nicknamed "carbs"), and fats.

Protein keeps you full and makes your muscles strong. At dinner you'll recognize healthy protein as lean meats like fish or chicken, or foods like beans. For snacks, you can find protein in nuts, peanut butter, or dairy foods (such as yogurt, milk, or cheese).

Carbs give your body quick energy. Whole-grain bread, whole-grain pasta, and brown rice are healthy carbohydrates. When you have a choice, don't pick white bread or white rice. White versions of foods usually don't have as many nutrients for your body as whole grains do. Fruits and veggies are also healthy carbohydrates.

Healthy fats help you feel full and help your body get nutrients from the other foods you eat them with. While too much unhealthy fat is bad for your body, eating some healthy fat makes the meal taste better and can actually help prevent some diseases. Try eating a salad with two spoons of oil and vinegar. To eat healthy fats, try olive oil, avocado, or a handful of nuts.

For a snack, you could eat:

  • A slice of cheese (protein and fat) and an apple (carbs)
  • Peanut butter (protein and healthy fat) on a whole-grain cracker (carbs)
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