1

votes

Is three meals a day recommended or necessary?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created March 06, 2012 at 7:44 PM

I'm interested in knowing what your thoughts are regarding where the concept of eating three meals a day origionated. I was raised (socialized) to believe eating breakfast, lunch and dinner were completely normal and healthy including the nighttime snack. Missing a meal such as being sent to bed without desert or supper was generally construed as punishment. I believe the first meal of the day, (break-fast), developed this term due to eating after a period of fasting. But what about lunch or dinner? Did our ancestors stop to eat lunch as a means of obtaining calories to continue performing farm work or manual labor. I imagine the evening meal was a means of marking the end of the work day and a time for family to come together for various reasons. Eating paleo has significantly improved my health and even my relationship to food. However, I wish to better understand the cultural and historical significance of my dietary habits.
Any and all thoughts are welcome.

E0250b1e6dc5ec1539ffb745042b4d80

(3651)

on March 06, 2012
at 11:14 PM

Does anyone know of a culture that never picked up the tradition of 3 meals a day?

D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038

(4134)

on March 06, 2012
at 10:48 PM

Hi, Edward. I thought it might be of use to someone. Dr. Sandler's work is, for me, inspiring and very helpful.

775bc83a7c54975e77a8500e065a24c3

(814)

on March 06, 2012
at 10:29 PM

Thank you, this is a facinating answer.

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5 Answers

2
Medium avatar

on March 06, 2012
at 08:16 PM

I've monkeyed with my diet so much over the last few years with almost every possible meal frequency but I find myself always wanting to return to 3 big-ish meals a day. When those meals commence is guided by actual hunger as Nance said, not by time of day. Eating more frequently is really annoying and the meal size needed to eat less frequently is uncomfortably large.

Do whatever works, but don't avoid 3 meals simply because it's conventional.

2
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on March 06, 2012
at 08:11 PM

In very general terms, I believe humans are meant to eat when they are acutely, physically hungry (signals are felt from the gut, not just the brain) and then not eat again until they are (once again) physically hungry. During the transition from SAD to whole foods, it can be hard to distinguish between (brain) cravings and (stomach) hunger. If you are adapted to burning glucose as your primary fuel you will probably get hungry faster than if you are well adapted to using fat for fuel. During the transition, it's helpful for many to eat plenty of animal fats and eat not-quite-enough carbs so your metabolism is encouraged to switch over to fat burning.

Therefore, my answer is to eat when you are hungry (stomach) but emphasize animal fats at first.

You'll know you are able to burn fat when you wake up alert and not urgently hungry. I and many other fat-burners feel no need to eat in the morning even if I am very active.

Once your metabolism can switch easily back and forth, the correct number of meals is whatever number best suits your schedule and preferences--for me, usually one.

1
1bbcd2122d9c75b07440f22ef57d6448

(2934)

on March 06, 2012
at 11:05 PM

Our earliest ancestors (full-out cavemen) did not have the luxury of a regular food supply, so their meal timing was much more sporadic -- sometimes days would pass between eating. This is the basis of intermittent fasting, which has been proven effective as a weight loss/maintenance tool. There is no longer necessity to follow a feast/famine schedule when eating, but there may be some genetic precedent for it (or at least genetic tolerance).

1
D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038

on March 06, 2012
at 09:24 PM

I don't know the origins, but here is some information that kept me from skipping many meals.

According to Dr. Benjamin Sandler, the three meals per day are to keep blood sugar normal.

The quote is from the diet campaign in 1948, during the polio epidemic.

6. Eat three substantial meals a day. Avoid exertion and fatigue because they are known to be associated with low blood sugar. Avoid swimming in cold water. Rest as much as possible.

Here is his book, Diet Prevents Polio.

Here is a reference to the efficacy of Dr. Sandler's recommendations. His diet significantly reduced the number of polio cases in the Asheville, NC area, where he advocated this diet.

"The polio vaccine: a critical assessment of its arcane history, efficacy,and long-term health-related consequences".

Nutritional deficiencies: A poor diet has also been shown to increase susceptibility to polio [25]. In 1948, during the height of the polio epidemics, Dr. Benjamin Sandler, a nutritional expert at the Oteen Veterans??? Hospital, documented a relationship between polio and an excessive use of sugars and starches. He compiled records showing that countries with the highest per capita consumption of sugar, such as the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada, and Sweden (with over 100 pounds per person per year) had the greatest incidence of polio [26]. In contrast, polio was practically unheard of in China (with its sugar use of only 3 pounds per person per year) [26].

Dr. Sandler claimed that sugars and starches lower blood sugar levels causing hypoglycemia, and that phosphoric acid in soft drinks strips the nerves of proper nourishment. Such foods dehydrate the cells and leech calcium from the body. A serious calcium deficiency precedes polio [26-29]. Weakened nerve trunks are then more likely to malfunction and the victim loses the use of one or more limbs [26:146].

Researchers have always known that polio strikes with its greatest intensity during the hot summer months. Dr. Sandler observed that children consume greater amounts of ice cream, soft drinks, and artificially sweetened products in hot weather. In 1949, before the polio season began, he warned the residents of North Carolina, through the newspapers and radio, to decrease their consumption of these products. That summer, North Carolinians reduced their intake of sugar by 90 percentCand polio decreased by the same amount! The North Carolina State Health Department reported 2,498 cases of polio in 1948, and 229 cases in 1949 (data taken from North Carolina State Health Department figures)* [26:146;29].*

One manufacturer shipped one million less gallons of ice cream during the first week alone following the publication of Dr. Sandler???s anti-polio diet. Soft drink sales were down as well. But the powerful Rockefeller Milk Trust, which sold frozen products to North Carolinians, combined forces with soft drink business leaders and convinced the people that Sandler???s findings were a myth and the polio figures a fluke. By the summer of 1950 sales
were back to previous levels and polio cases returned to ???normal??? [26:146;29].

Dr. Sandler also wrote a book, How To Prevent Heart Attacks, published in 1958. On page 88 and 89, his "Suggested Meals" for breakfast, lunch, and supper are given. Still three meals per day. :)

The writings of his, which I have been able to find, were enough to keep me from fasting. (Also, Dr. Richard Bernstein's book, The Diabetes Solution, underlined this, for me, and my experiences.)

Of course, others have different needs and parameters, and may night find this as helpful and appealing as I.

D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038

(4134)

on March 06, 2012
at 10:48 PM

Hi, Edward. I thought it might be of use to someone. Dr. Sandler's work is, for me, inspiring and very helpful.

775bc83a7c54975e77a8500e065a24c3

(814)

on March 06, 2012
at 10:29 PM

Thank you, this is a facinating answer.

1
F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on March 06, 2012
at 08:42 PM

I already answered this in my other post - most hunter gatherer tribes I have read about have three meals per day.

Most ethnic cultures have three meals per day.

Very few cultures have an idea of snacking. In fact, the leanest cultures on earth usually do not snack.

Hunter gatherers snack but it is not like a rule.

Also the ideas for feasting when food is abundant,, like Thanksgiving, sharing your meal with others and finish when you are full but there is still some food left are very ancient.

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