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Calorie Count Blog

The Main Meal of the Day


By Erik on Sep 17, 2010 10:00 AM in Dieting & You

In North America, most of us are accustomed to three substantial meals a day – breakfast, lunch, and a hearty dinner.  In many other parts of the world, though, lunch is the main meal of the day, while breakfast and dinner are more like light snacks.  Meanwhile, many nutrition experts refer to breakfast as the most important meal of the day, encouraging us to “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”.  How has the biggest meal of the day evolved over time and when should we eat it?

Lunch – the Old Dinner

These days, there is some confusion among English-speakers over the words lunch, dinner, and supper.  Dinner is still used in some places (primarily Britain) to refer to a mid-day meal that many others of us would consider lunch.  Likewise, a lunch could also refer to what others think of as dinner – such as a “Sunday Lunch”.

A few hundred years ago, there was no confusion over these terms and concepts.  The mid-day meal was known as dinner and it was the largest meal of the day.  Workers would rise early, take a break in the early afternoon to eat a large meal with their families, then return to work and finish the day with a light snack before going to bed.  This last meal of the day was known as supper, and generally consisted of cold leftovers from the mid-day dinner.

Early to Bed, Early to Rise

In the past, eating a substantial lunch made sense.  Before the advent of technology, it was difficult to work and eat without sunlight.  Most people’s lives revolved around the sun’s cycles – rising early and going to bed shortly after sunset.  As the Industrial Revolution took hold in the 1800s and people started moving from the farm to the factory, workers could no longer take a mid-day break for a large meal.  Instead, they began eating a light lunch, pushing dinner to the evening hours after work.  In addition, breakfast grew from a small serving of toast or gruel into a more substantial meal of bacon, eggs, and sausage.

While lunch may no longer be the main meal of the day in many parts of the world, the tradition persists with some holidays and occasions, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and weekend family gatherings.

When to Eat?

These changes to our meals and schedules have left many wondering not just what to eat, but also when to eat.  Many professed experts have asserted that meal times and servings should be optimized to fit metabolic patterns, recommending smaller more frequent snacks instead of meals.  That said, everyone is different – it’s generally best to eat whenever it works best for you and your body, assuming you stay within your daily calorie limits and eat primarily wholesome food.


Your thoughts…

Do you eat a main meal of the day?


Calorie Count co-founder Erik Fantasia and his girlfriend, Heather Curtis, are currently traveling through South America as part of a trip around the world.  You can follow their adventures online with Facebook and their blog.



Comments


Dieting leads me to prefer a main meal in the early evening, something good that I look forward to. Laughing

I like to stay busy during the day, so it just works better for me this way.



Although I always have read that breakfast was the most important meal of the day, I rarely have much time for breakfast.  I am up at 4 AM and out the door.  I typically grab a light breakfast, then am pretty hungry at lunch.  Eat a good healthy lunch (usually a pretty hearty salad) then a light dinner when I get home from work. 



We eat an old-fashioned dinner between noon and 1 p.m. and a light supper in the evening. This is how I grew up in Germany, where school let out around noon or 1 p.m., and I reestablished this pattern when my son went to school in Germany. Lunch (or dinner, well, the midday meal) was also the family gathering time. My husband, having grown up with the more modern routine of eating the big meal in the evening, has gotten accustomed to this routine and no longer wants to go to bed on a full stomach. This works for us since we both work from home.



my main meal used to be lunch but now it is breakfast I tend to eat a bigger meal on the weekends but during the week sparingly



I grew up in the South and lunch was called dinner there still, and it was definitely the main meal of the day, especially on Sunday and holidays.  You ate the huge dinner after church and for supper you just sort of picked off the leftovers.  Even at school then we had real home cooked food from the cafeteria and it was definitely a full meal, something like a spaghetti dinner or gumbo, things of that nature.  Since I don't live there now I don't know if they've succumbed to the nuked, assembly line, barely food lunches that schools out here in New Mexico serve.  

It's hard to have lunch be the main meal of the day when you work.  Many times I don't get a lunch break at all.  If I'm lucky I have leftovers from the night before, if I'm not so lucky it's a carton of yogurt, or a frozen meal, or a pita spread with hummus and stuffed with lettuce, something to tide me over 'till I get home.  When people have only a thirty minute break and many times there's a line at the microwave, you're doing good just to eat anything at all for the noon meal!



In Quebec, lunch is called "dinner" and it is the main meal of the day; the evening meal is light and called "supper".  Even though I've lived here a year, I still prefer my main meal at night...I can relax then, and enjoy it.  I also believe its "calories in/calories out" and it doesn't matter when you eat...its how much and what!



I grew up eating my main meal in the evening every day. Now it's different. I eat a pretty calorie-dense breakfast (at least 390 calories) about half an hour after I wake up. As for lunch, it's different every day. Some days I have a heavy lunch (600 calories) and some days it's very small. It depends if I eat out or not. Most of my eating out occurs during lunch time and on work days. I don't feel as bad about it because I have to walk 30 minutes to get to work and then 30 minutes to get home. As well, I've already eaten breakfast before then, so my metabolism is working good. I eat a very light meal most of the time in the evening. I don't like going to bed feeling full because then it's hard to sleep. It's hard to sleep feeling hungry too, so I find a balance. Usually a light meal at 5:00 and then a bedtime snack of peanut butter on crackers later does well :3



i stopped eating breakfast about 40 years ago. for some reason the sight of food first thing makes me naucious.. still.. i just have tea and then out the door. lunch (noon hour) is fruit salad, apple,granola bar and supper (6pm) is whatever my wife cooks :) chicken,pasta,ribs, occasionally soup&sandwich.. its what works for me!!



I have a large breakfast, usually around 500kcal. I take my thyroid pill after waking up, so that kicks in my metabolism and makes me really hungry. I have another 500kcal during lunch. I don't actually take a lunchbreak. I order food from a healthy lunch service and heat it up in the microwave in the office kitchen. I eat while working on my computer, taking bites when I can. I usually have dinner really late between 8-9pm because I'm not hungry after the large lunch. So I just have a milkshake and maybe some healthy cookies made of oats for the rest of my 1300kcal daily allowance. I don't like to eat a lot in the evenings. I like to play and watch TV when I get home, rest, not stand around in the kitchen cooking. Besides, if I started cooking, I'd only eat at midnight. I never eat salads, I don't like raw vegetables much.



While I worked we had the largest meal in the evening. I've recently retired and have returned to my hypoglycemic diet of 6 small meals a day. I feel better and it spreads the protein out (although I still have insomnia!). 



Comment Removed

I think about this a lot. In the old days a big Breakfast made sense because of the type of work most people were doing. Plowing a mule all day for example. Try that for a work out.

Now most people work in an office or some less strenuous job so a big breakfast is not really needed. I grew up calling the last meal, supper. Deep South.

For me I am on a 1600 calorie regimen so I try to split it up around 500 calories for each meal or if I know I am going to have a big Supper I will go light on the other two meals. I only snack when I feel light heaed or really hungry. Snacking is what got me in the shape I am in. That and no exercise. That's the way I try to do it.



Growing up in South America lunch was always the main meal. School hours were from 7:30 to noon. Daddy and mom had a two hour lunch break. The maid cooked and we had the meal ready by the time the family got back home to enjoy lunch together. Dinner was light, not to disturb your sleep.

Now in America, raising my kids, I find it impossible to follow the eating habits I grew up with – and I really miss it. School goes until 3 PM. Lunch breaks are no more than 1 hour. Work-home commute time much longer than other countries. We had to compromise. We have no main meal, they are fairly well distributed. In fact I was counting the calories consumed each day and – no surprise – I consume about 1/3 of my total daily calories on each meal. Dinner may be a bit more sometimes, especially on days when I go lap swim after work and get home starving!

I vote for the traditional South America style. But, do realize, that in the era of Globalization, more and more countries are becoming “Americanized” – unfortunately – for the good and the bad.



Weekdays, I have more calories at breakfast, which I eat at my desk when I get to work.  I have a peanut butter sandwich for lunch; and eat a light dinner when I get home from the gym around 8pm.  That's too late to eat a substantial meal for me (ulcers, gerd, hernias, etc).  On the weekends, I have breakfast after working out  and I tend to eat a bigger lunch in the late afternoon.  Will have a bit of something in the evening a couple of hours before bed.

I do eat three meals a day.  I absolutely HATE mini meals.  I generally eat 1400-1600 calories/day.  A 250ish calorie meal feels like an appetizer to me--it just whets my appetite for more food that I can't have.

Mary



Sorry, but I have a strong opinion on snacking. And that is, STOP snacking and start EXERCISING. Unless you have a specific medical condition that requires you to have more frequent meals, avoid snaking.



For me I always make sure to have breakfast. Generally it is small, so I don't feel bloated. My lunch is usually rushed so it is kind of small as well. My main meal of the day is my "lunch break" at work. I work from 1 to 9 in the evening most nights so I eat about 5. A proper time for supper, I suppose. I try to plan that one so I can eat just the right amount to round out my calorie intake. I also try to prepack some snacks, of any variety, so when I do start to get a little hungry I have something to hold me until I get a chance to actually eat a meal. I feel that I tend to get hungry about every 2 hours. If you don't eat a meal at that time, it will only make you feel famished by the time you get to your meal time. When meal times are divided by about 4 to 5 hours between. I like to think that by not denying yourself a little something, it helps to keep your food intake in check at meal time. I have also learned that the intake of water can help curb appetite. I try to drink a large glass of water before I eat anything, just to see if my stomach is just being whiny. I don't generally have a large meal, except for once a week. That would be a large breakfast one day that I share with my son. It always happens on the day where it is easiest to forgive myself if I eat too much. I say enjoy what you can and do what works best for you.



I know what works for me.  I eat enough breakfast to kill the average elephant.  No junk...but a huge bowl of assorted fruits every morning, some vegetarian sausage, (I have some great recipes), whole wheat whatever I want, (toast, bagel, pancakes...etc., and one jumbo egg, usually boiled or poached.  Large glass of tomato juice, sometimes some milk (2%), and coffee.  I get up stuffed full of very tasty, very healthy foods that contain a great mix of protein and carbos....with a little fat that is ALWAYS only from olive oil.  For the rest of the day, I have no cravings for junk food, cola drinks, or cookies.  Small lunch, small dinner...and I'm set.  Been at my ideal weight now for almost a year, have lost all desire for sweet junk, processed garbage, and white anything.  Have come to much desire a huge glass of ice water over most any other beverage, cut back on red meat, and eliminated virtually all of my desires for things my mind says are not healthy.  After all, it's a matter of what you get used to.  I wouldn't go back to my old unhealthy ways for anything.  Life is good.



Hi there,

My pattern now is light breakfast, a mid morning snack, a good lunch, afternoon snack and light dinner. I noticed that I am less hungry and eat substantially less than with my old three meal pattern. I have energy for exercise, I feel less bloated,  and I am losing about three pounds a month.

Cheers,

Miguel



Growing up in Hungary, the main meal of the day was always lunch (we had hot lunch at the canteen in school) and when we had big family gatherings, it was always lunch as well. However, since I've moved to western Europe, the whole routine changed, since then dinner's been the main meal. That's been working out quite well for me, as if I eat too much for lunch, I feel very sleepy most of the afternoon (food coma).

centeaj:

Your comment about snacking is completely ridiculous. I personally have to have snacks between meals, as I simply cannot consume enough food during my main meals, which leaves me dizzy and weak if I don't have a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. Also, when I don't have these snacks I crave more unhealthy food, and tend to overeat at my main meals as I'm starving by the time I get to lunch/dinner. I do a lot of exercise, mostly in the mornings, and my snacks are not unhealthy snacks, but mostly fruit, protein shakes, veggies (like carrot sticks), low fat cottage cheese, etc. Also since I keep my energy levels up with smaller meals my metabolism is a lot faster than it used to be when I kept it with 3 square meals. I'd also point out that most nutritionists recommend more frequent smaller meals (to keep your energy levels up and speed up your metabolism), rather than just 3 meals. I suggest you do some research before making such dubious claims next time.



Original Post by: zelda_of_arel

I have a large breakfast, usually around 500kcal. I take my thyroid pill after waking up, so that kicks in my metabolism and makes me really hungry. I have another 500kcal during lunch. I don't actually take a lunchbreak. I order food from a healthy lunch service and heat it up in the microwave in the office kitchen. I eat while working on my computer, taking bites when I can. I usually have dinner really late between 8-9pm because I'm not hungry after the large lunch. So I just have a milkshake and maybe some healthy cookies made of oats for the rest of my 1300kcal daily allowance. I don't like to eat a lot in the evenings. I like to play and watch TV when I get home, rest, not stand around in the kitchen cooking. Besides, if I started cooking, I'd only eat at midnight. I never eat salads, I don't like raw vegetables much.


1300? talk about different needs, with my current activity level I can eat up to 3000 calories and I would still have some deficit... in days where I don't step out of bed I need about 2300 or 2400.



Original Post by: centeaj

Sorry, but I have a strong opinion on snacking. And that is, STOP snacking and start EXERCISING. Unless you have a specific medical condition that requires you to have more frequent meals, avoid snaking.


My average the last few weeks is over 5 hours of exercise per week , and I snack when I feel like it.

Perhaps you think that we eat a pack of Ho-Hos or half a dozen donuts in each snack, I don't know... I noticed that since I do two snacks a day (morning and afternoon) I eat much less for lunch and dinner, and feel less bloated and lethargic after a big meal. After all, some days my calorie needs are about 3000 - 3200 cal. Try having that in one go :)



My main meal of the day is dinner.  We eat around one or two and have a light supper in the evening.  We started doing this when we worked.  The hours we worked where 4am to 1pm so we eat our main meal when we got off work.  We still eat that way now since we have retired.  I would rather cook the main meal in the middle of the day than in the evening.



I agree with that. My problem with it is I eat too much when I snack. If I can avoid it I will. So far 3 a day works best for me.



Back when the earth was cooling, and I was modellng -  the motto was , 'never eat if you arn'tr hungry".  This has always worked for me.  The Blue Duck



i tend to eat at least 5 times per day with each meal consisting about 550 cals, and as such i feel all meals are important as they keep your fires stoked and your body motoring along like a little freight train. the mistake people make is not the size of the meal but what it contains.for ex-eating carbs at periods of inactivity, like at night.. and not eating enough proteins after periods of activity. since i started to follow these simple rules i have been shedding the pounds. so don't worry about the main meal, just worry about the right meal.  



I have given up on traditional meals.  I wake up at 5:30 and don't eat anything till I get to the office and have my last meal after my workout, around 6:30 pm.  On a typical day I have  first breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, coffee break and dinner.  First breakfast, lunch and dinner are around 300 calories, the others around 100.  



Because of my job I work overnights half the week and switch back to days the other half.  Something interesting I discovered while counting calories was that my "main meal" changed while on the night schedule vs the day schedule. While on nights, my first meal of the day was significantly larger than the subsequent meals (sometimes as much as 50% of my daily intake!)  On days, however, the traditional late evening dinner was my primary meal.  Being aware of this has really helped me discover where I was consuming too many calories and helped me to control it.



Our largest meal is definitely in the evening and usually around 7pm. I'd like to start eating at 6p, though! With children in school 8-2:30 and hubby at work until 6, we can't do a big meal together until that time. Maybe I'll make that a new habit to begin this Fall.. would be healthier, too! Both Mom and Dad are very overweight while our kiddos are all in good shape :)



ohg thought i would mention this to all you snackers..snacking is the body's way of telling you that you are not eating enough or frequently enough to fuel the body..if we starve our bodies then it sends messages to the brain which in turn forces us to crave high calorie and sugary foods. if you must snack then snack on fruits and vegetables.



I reserve the most calories for dinner (late afternoon, early evening). During the day I eat a light breakfast and a light lunch (mid-day meal) because I teach and have to be on my feet all day. I don't want to feel full and sleepy while I'm at work. Even still, my caloric intake for dinner rarely goes over 600 calories. I tend to stay at an even 1200 calories on a daily basis. I'm not a snacker either. Although, late at night, I do reserve some calories for a cup of warm milk right before bed! : )



I work early, so I have something light (a piece of fruit, etc) for breakfast, for lunch a small meal too and then I look forward to my main meal for dinner (4-5pm) where about half of my allotted calories for the day are consumed, this works well for me and losing weight has been steady. I do not ever snack between meals.



In Poland we eat dinner around 1-2PM and supper in the evening.



Original Post by: miguel_arino

Original Post by: zelda_of_arel

I have a large breakfast, usually around 500kcal. I take my thyroid pill after waking up, so that kicks in my metabolism and makes me really hungry. I have another 500kcal during lunch. I don't actually take a lunchbreak. I order food from a healthy lunch service and heat it up in the microwave in the office kitchen. I eat while working on my computer, taking bites when I can. I usually have dinner really late between 8-9pm because I'm not hungry after the large lunch. So I just have a milkshake and maybe some healthy cookies made of oats for the rest of my 1300kcal daily allowance. I don't like to eat a lot in the evenings. I like to play and watch TV when I get home, rest, not stand around in the kitchen cooking. Besides, if I started cooking, I'd only eat at midnight. I never eat salads, I don't like raw vegetables much.


1300? talk about different needs, with my current activity level I can eat up to 3000 calories and I would still have some deficit... in days where I don't step out of bed I need about 2300 or 2400.


I do try to work out, but I'm just not that active a person and because I have several body problems, it's not good for me to put too much strain on it. Though I do try to burn about 400kcal a day with some exercise, if I don't have anything hurting too much. But I'm also short, just 5"5'. So I don't need all that much to begin with.



Original Post by: 2beittybitty

Dieting leads me to prefer a main meal in the early evening, something good that I look forward to. Laughing

I like to stay busy during the day, so it just works better for me this way.


I agree 100%.  No matter what I eat during the day I like a large meal at suppertime...so I eat very light during the day and then eat a normal meal at supper.  I like the article's common sense approach.  Do whatever works for you...we're not all the same, so why should we all lose weight the same way?



" A few hundred years ago, there was no confusion over these terms and concepts.  The mid-day meal was known as dinner and it was the largest meal of the day. "

 

Don't be so sure! In Portugal, and probably all over Europe, people ate a large breakfast and most took a small something to eat at work. People were not so rich, ate less. Land workers took some bread and a small portion of chorizo or some other fatty meat product to work and it was the only thing they had till sunset...



When dieting, lunch & supper are pretty much the same for me. (I've always thought of dinner as the main meal. Usually in the evening, but sometimes at noon.)

One thing I observed while hosting foreign students is that they all gain weight. It doesn't seem to matter how much exercise they get. Some, but not all of them walk a lot at home.  What was true for all 7 of mine was that they changed their main meal from midday with a late light supper (after 8) to the American pattern of a light lunch, larger supper, & evening snack- probably not a healthy one. I've wondered how much of the weight gain was related to the change in eating patterns.



Original Post by: bethtanner

When dieting, lunch & supper are pretty much the same for me. (I've always thought of dinner as the main meal. Usually in the evening, but sometimes at noon.)

One thing I observed while hosting foreign students is that they all gain weight. It doesn't seem to matter how much exercise they get. Some, but not all of them walk a lot at home.  What was true for all 7 of mine was that they changed their main meal from midday with a late light supper (after 8) to the American pattern of a light lunch, larger supper, & evening snack- probably not a healthy one. I've wondered how much of the weight gain was related to the change in eating patterns.


I hear the same thing from everyone who goes from Hungary to America. Though it's also the kind of food they have there. But having a large amount of food before you go to bed doesn't give you time to move it off.



While I'm still on the losing weight stage, I eat about 200 calories for breakfast, 100 calorie snacks around 10 and then again around 3.  Because I'm so used to the evening meal big, I save my calories for that so I eat a small lunch.  This however, changes during the weekends (I also don't snack).  I usually only eat 2 meals Saturday since I use that as my sleep-in day.  Then Sunday I go out to eat with my parents after church so I have my "dinner" then and me and my husband do something small for supper.  But once I am on the maintaining stage, I'd love to not feel like I have to save calories for my evening meal that way I can eat a bigger lunch like I should be doing.

On another note, I did always wonder why Dinner was also called Supper, now I know.  Interesting.



Growing up in Northern England I was accustomed to a light Breakfast, hot lunch (which we called Dinner) and then a lighter evening meal which we called Tea.  Often we would have a before-bed snack, which we called Supper, usually consisting of tea or Horlicks and a biscuit (cookie to Americans) .  When I moved to the U.S. I got in the habit of eating American style, but now I'm older and am not very active after my evening meal, I'm reverting to making  lunch my biggest meal of the day so that I don't go to bed on a full stomach.



Original Post by: centeaj

Sorry, but I have a strong opinion on snacking. And that is, STOP snacking and start EXERCISING. Unless you have a specific medical condition that requires you to have more frequent meals, avoid snaking.


When I didn't snack I would over eat at every meal which led to my gain during my last few years in college and my regain after I lost some weight.  I have to snack or I am starving once the meals comes around so I over eat which leads back to what I said in the previous sentence. So I am a strong supporter for having 2 snacks a day to keep you on track (or more).



Original Post by: zelda_of_arel

Original Post by: miguel_arino

Original Post by: zelda_of_arel

I have a large breakfast, usually around 500kcal. I take my thyroid pill after waking up, so that kicks in my metabolism and makes me really hungry. I have another 500kcal during lunch. I don't actually take a lunchbreak. I order food from a healthy lunch service and heat it up in the microwave in the office kitchen. I eat while working on my computer, taking bites when I can. I usually have dinner really late between 8-9pm because I'm not hungry after the large lunch. So I just have a milkshake and maybe some healthy cookies made of oats for the rest of my 1300kcal daily allowance. I don't like to eat a lot in the evenings. I like to play and watch TV when I get home, rest, not stand around in the kitchen cooking. Besides, if I started cooking, I'd only eat at midnight. I never eat salads, I don't like raw vegetables much.


1300? talk about different needs, with my current activity level I can eat up to 3000 calories and I would still have some deficit... in days where I don't step out of bed I need about 2300 or 2400.


I do try to work out, but I'm just not that active a person and because I have several body problems, it's not good for me to put too much strain on it. Though I do try to burn about 400kcal a day with some exercise, if I don't have anything hurting too much. But I'm also short, just 5"5'. So I don't need all that much to begin with.


I also have a thyroid problem, and I noticed, that once I started being more active, I have more joint pain (sorry if I'm assuming what's going on, just taking a stab at it).  I still walk (some running) some days.  I am also short (4-11) so if I am having a non-active day I burn around 1250 calories, but if I'm moderately active I burn around 1500 calories (even that was a shocker to me since everything as 2,000 calorie requirements info on it).



If I eat breakfast, I'm starving all day.   Therefore I do the marjority of my housework when I first get up and am too busy to think about food.  I eat lunch (about 300 - 400 calories) between noon and 2 p.m.   For dinner which is between 6 and 8 p.m., I consume about 500 calories and have the remaining calories before bed when I must take food with my medications (about midnight).  This enables me to check the Calorie Count analysis after dinner to see what nutrients I am lacking.   My late meal is planned around those.   I am on a 1200 calorie regime and since I am in a wheelchair, get little exercise.   I have lost 29 pounds in 10 weeks and have 71 more to go.   I am amazed since I'm on both prednizone and cortisone and thought it was absolutely impossible to lose weight.   However, as my lung specialist pointed out, I'm now on a very low dose and it is imperative to lose the weight.  I realize that from here on it it will be more difficult, especially in the winter when cheap fresh food is not so available - but am looking forward to discovering a whole new world of nutritious home made soups.   I am delighted with Calorie Count's analysis of one's own recipes and the many recipes that one can find on this site. 



Original Post by: david197001

ohg thought i would mention this to all you snackers..snacking is the body's way of telling you that you are not eating enough or frequently enough to fuel the body..if we starve our bodies then it sends messages to the brain which in turn forces us to crave high calorie and sugary foods. if you must snack then snack on fruits and vegetables.


my snacks are never high calorie or sugary.  i think people automatically assume that 'snack' means something out of a vending machine.  my snacks usually consist of a handful of nuts, or a serving of fat free greek style yogurt, or a whole wheat tortilla with a tablespoon of hummus spread on it, maybe a piece of fruit if i'm feeling sluggish and need to get my blood sugar up.  i don't undertand this high and mighty attitude some people are taking towards snacking.  for those of us who don't have time at work to sit and eat a substantial meal, or need a quick pick me up before a workout, a snack is a godsend! i don't snack because my body tells me i'm starving myself, it's more about my time schedule and how much i feel comfortable putting in my stomach at one time.  again, the whole thing is calories in versus calories out.  if you eat a balanced meal and spread some additional calories over a snack or two during the day, how is that different than piling all those calories on your plate at once, or at three different times during the day?  as long as your meeting your nutritional needs and giving your body the calories it needs to sustain itself, it doesn't matter when you intake those calories!

 

and fyi- it IS okay to have a little something sweet sometimes, too.  it's called a treat.  as long as you keep it as a treat and not a regular part of your food supply then you're fine.



What I would like and what reality is are two different things.  I would like the noon meal to be the big meal of the day.  But, with school and work and a husband that works nights our big meal tends to be the evening meal.  I just try to resist the temptation to overeat in the evening while my husband is eating his big meal.



Comment Removed

What references or sources did you use for the information presented in this article? 



I live in Greece snd here the midday meal is the largest meal of the day with brakfast and supper playing a secondary role. My husband abides religiously with this rule. Since I am still in the process of losing weiht, however, I spread my daily food out into 5-6 meals a day, with protein playing a leading role in each meal. More important than the times and frequency of your meals, however, IMHO is WHAT you are eating and how much of it. We never buy prepared food, we make everything from scratch, that helps us better control what goes into our plate.



Original Post by: kjr07

What references or sources did you use for the information presented in this article? 


Hi kjr07!

This article was written based upon my personal experience of living overseas and traveling (primarily in Latin America).  The "breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince..." quote is from Adelle Davis.  Nutritional advice in the closing was developed with our Registered Dietitian, Mary Hartley.

This article from History Magazine provides a more detailed look at the historical evolution of our mealtimes:

http://www.history-magazine.com/dinner2.html



Original Post by: centeaj

Growing up in South America lunch was always the main meal. School hours were from 7:30 to noon. Daddy and mom had a two hour lunch break. The maid cooked and we had the meal ready by the time the family got back home to enjoy lunch together. Dinner was light, not to disturb your sleep.

Now in America, raising my kids, I find it impossible to follow the eating habits I grew up with – and I really miss it. School goes until 3 PM. Lunch breaks are no more than 1 hour. Work-home commute time much longer than other countries. We had to compromise. We have no main meal, they are fairly well distributed. In fact I was counting the calories consumed each day and – no surprise – I consume about 1/3 of my total daily calories on each meal. Dinner may be a bit more sometimes, especially on days when I go lap swim after work and get home starving!

I vote for the traditional South America style. But, do realize, that in the era of Globalization, more and more countries are becoming “Americanized” – unfortunately – for the good and the bad.


Hi centeaj!

I wrote this article inspired by the way most people eat in Colombia, where I'm travelleing.  For the most part, lunch is huge, breakfast is fairly small, and dinner/supper is tiny.  As you mention, these traditions do seem to be changing.  In the cities it seems like people eat larger dinners, while in some of the smaller towns we have been to in the countryside, it can be hard to find a place open for dinner!



Like a few people said, I think the best way to spread calories out during the day really IS whatever works for you. No proof that eating after 6pm is bad for you, though there is proof that having breakfast boost up energy and metabolism. So eat SOMETHING for breakfast and spread the rest of the calories wherever you want them. Having mini meals  seems what would cause less digestive upset and keep your metabolism going all day in a perfect world, but sometimes 3 meals a day just works better. As for snacking - i also agree snack does NOT mean junk, and that it often leads us to eat less and better at meals. No arguing that waiting till you are starving to eat (no matter what time it is) is bad for you. Eat when you are hungry, eat well, and thats all we should worry about!



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