The Three Meal Parameters

A mathematical relationship between when we eat, how much we eat, and what we eat.

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Most people never think about how math can be a part of how they eat. They just order what they want. This approach can lead to all sorts of problems including weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome. Believe it or not, there is a mathematical relationship between three particular parameters of how we eat food. Knowing the parameters and how to apply them can help with weight loss and feeling better. These three parameters are frequency, portion, and diet.

The Fuzzy Math

The math has four expressions and each means something slightly different. The three variables are, again, frequency (an integer), portion (mass), and diet (energy density). The first expression says, “as frequency goes up, portion goes down and energy density remains the same.” The second expression says, “as frequency goes down, portion goes up and energy density remains the same.” The third expression says, “as energy density goes up (less healthy), frequency and portion go down.” And lastly, the fourth expression says, “as energy density goes down (more healthy), frequency and portion go up.”

Paying attention to the frequency of eating can prevent snacking all day or help with intermittently fasting, both of which are beneficial to your health. Watching your portions can help prevent overeating and promote feeling fuller sooner. And your diet can determine how you approach the other two parameters. For example, eating fast food causes a reduction in your portions and your frequency. Eating a very healthy diet allows the healing of the body instead of causing damage like fast food.

Application of the three parameters

Use these parameters to help you make decisions. For example, frequency and portion are often inversely proportional. That means as frequency goes up, portion goes down. So if I eat 1 meal for lunch one day, I can eat dinner with a larger portion to make up for the lack in frequency. Similarly, if I eat 3 meals before dinner of moderate size, I can eat a small dinner to make up for the higher frequency. Similarly, if I’m a grazer and I eat 6 very small meals before dinner, I might stick to a very small meal or just skip dinner altogether. 

No math on paper. Just notice the parameters and try to make them jive together. It’s much, much easier than keeping track of points or counting calories. That said, using a resource calculator like the ones on this site, will help you to get used to managing portion size. Sometimes you portion something out but don’t keep track of calories. The calculators keep track of calories, portion, and diet (not frequency).

Author: T Ross

I spent the first part of my life playing piano and composing music. I graduated from UCLA with a degree in music composition and cognitive science. Then I became a User Interface Engineer for four years. I moved home to Raleigh, NC to be closer to my family and began to freelance. On the side, I created a company called Elemental Nutrition & Wellness that uses interactive resource calculators to give people the tools they need to lose weight and boost nutrition. Now I have my own practice as a holistic nutritionist. I help people meet their weight loss goals by fostering self-motivation. You can reach me at

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