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Meal Regulation: “When” Is As Important As “What”

So you want to stop yo-yo dieting, binging, or overeating? Science says one of the biggest key factors in achieving this is something called “meal regulation,” eating at predetermined, regular times throughout the day.

The reason eating at scheduled times is so helpful is because most people fall into 1 of 2 traps: Either they eat all day long, grazing like squirrels, or they go too long without eating and get so hungry to eat that it’s then hard to stop eating. Meal regulation addresses both of these problems.

So why there’s so many diets preaching what to eat, this idea of when to eat isn’t too often discussed. This is a huge blind spot. I said before that science agrees- well it really agrees! Look at this- in one study, it was found that people struggling with weight management had habits of snacking frequently, eating larger portions, and binge eating. 

Not only that, but they also had the habit of skipping meals. People who eat fewer than 3 times a day were found to be at greater risk of weight gain and Type II Diabetes. That’s not just a weird coincidence. Skipping and restricting meals can put your body into “starvation mode” and causes blood sugar to drop. When this happens, your taste receptors have an increased  sensitivity to sweet taste. So while you may think that eating less times a day adds up to weight loss, that’s actually not the case at all!

So now that you know meal regulation is so so important, you might be wondering how to apply this to your life. First, start by looking at your weekly schedule and select ideal times for you to eat three meals and one or two snacks (depending on how long your day is and where you are on your recovery journey). Ideally, you want to space your meals/ snacks 3-4.5 hours a part. So for example, my eating schedule might look like: Breakfast at 8am, Lunch at 12pm, Snack at 3:30pm, and Dinner at 7pm.

Time to try this out for yourself! While meal regulation is a tough habit to start, it’s one of the most loving things you can do for yourself. Remember, you’re not going to starve between lunch and dinner. You’ve got this! 

xoxo, Molly


Kern, Lee S., Kelli E. Friedman, Simona K. Reichmann, Philip R. Costanzo, and Gerard J. Musante. “Changing eating behavior: a preliminary study to consider broader measures of weight control treatment success.” Eating behaviors 3, no. 2 (2002): 113-121.

Mekary, Rania A., Edward Giovannucci, Walter C. Willett, Rob M. van Dam, and Frank B. Hu. “E

Ninomiya, Yuzo, Noriatsu Shigemura, Keiko Yasumatsu, Rie Ohta, Kumiko Sugimoto, Kiyohito Nakashima, and Bernd Lindemann. “Leptin and sweet taste.” (2002): 221-248.

Van Der Heijden, Amber Awa, Frank B. Hu, Eric B. Rimm, and Rob M. Van Dam. “A prospective study of breakfast consumption and weight gain among US men.” Obesity 15, no. 10 (2007): 2463-2469.

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

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