Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thoughts on the Three Meals Dogma

I'm intrigued by the history of eating customs across cultures.

A recent article from the terrific site Alternet looks into the three meals paradigm. It quotes a Paul Freedman, editor of Food: The History of Taste (University of California Press, 2007):

There is no biological reason for eating three meals a day. Meal times are cultural patterns no different from how close you stand when talking to people or what you do with your body as you speak. Human beings are comfortable with patterns because they're predictable. We've become comfortable with the idea of three meals. On the other hand, our schedules and our desires are subverting that idea more and more every day.
 As I wrote in the previous article on breakfast, some cultures have 2 main meals a day with little more than a snack at breakfast. What's worth noting is that mortality rates aren't  connected to how many meals a day you eat. Just look at the French, one of the longest-lived, most healthful populations on the planet. The French breakfast custom is to have white bread with jam and butter and coffee/tea. That is, if the French have breakfast at all. I've met many a French person who eat nothing until lunch.

Perhaps there's something to be said for delayed gratification? The saying "Hunger is the best sauce" really captures that idea.

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