It Might Not Be Necessary To Eat Three Meals A Day, But It’s Better For You

I was scrolling through nutrition news today when I happened upon this article on the decline of the Three Meals A Day paradigm. It’s weirdly depressing: It starts out talking about the fact that back in ye olde days, before electricity, people didn’t actually eat three meals a day — they had bread for breakfast and then one really big meal out in the fields in the afternoon, before it got dark. The argument is that there’s no biological need to eat three meals a day.

The advent of electricity, and therefore the existence of abundant light after dark, along with the development of rigidly-scheduled factory work were the two factors that most led to a standard schedule of three meals — in the morning, at midday, and after work. And while it’s not biologically necessary, it turns out that our deviance from the three-a-day ritual is bad for us; the ritual, while totally abstract, is better for nutrition, interpersonal skills and academic performance, and it helps to prevent eating disorders.

Theories abound about why we’ve strayed from the three-meals-a-day model. One is, as always, smartphones: Even if you have family meals, family members might not be lending those meals their full attention. Another is the snack industry, which has fared surprisingly well through the recession, and which markets snack food with the aim (obviously) of getting consumers to eat as often as possible.

Scientific research on meal frequency is inconclusive and contradictory. Some studies point to methodological errors in other studies, and overall there seem to be benefits and pitfalls to any eating schedule. A less formal study showed that whatever diet a person happened to follow — low-carb, pescatarian, vegan, low-fat or complex carb — the act of defining your diet, deciding and planning what you eat, is healthier than not having a plan. The same could very well be said for timing, as having a plan about when you eat is just as important about having a plan about what you eat. That was as true for medieval field workers and nineteenth-century industrial factory employees as it is for us today.

Are you mindful about eating three meals a day or sticking to some other food plan?


[Massive Health]

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