Eating during the day: Adapting to a new routine
The three-meals-a-day was created to bend human life around the necessity of leaving home to work elsewhere.
Now with online working and turning back to home-life-work, people are bending once again around an entirely new set of challenges. Our old eating schedules are changing to fit our new circumstances.
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Many people eat three meals a day. But we don't have to eat this way.
In trying to find a new routine while working from home, many Americans are drawn to eating a Big Meal once a day when they're ready to have it. A Big meal is large and can be eaten at any time of the day, typically in the late afternoon. It is not a diet, just a convenient way of eating.
Adjusted eating patterns are more useful or satisfying in the conditions people are living in.
It is hard to see how life might be made more flexible after the pandemic. For now, eat when you feel like it. There is no reason to eat when you're not hungry or to force yourself to cook when you're tired and would be happy with a lighter meal.
Moving away from three meals might at first feel unnatural, but that eating schedule is both very recent and born out of social convenience. We don't eat three meals because of nutritional science or a natural human inclination.
It is mostly the consequence of industrialization, which took the population away from home regularly. Before that, people worked during daylight, pausing midmorning and later in the afternoon. It was a two-meal schedule based on outdoor physical labour.
For many centuries, a dining table at home spelled class and dignity. Ancient Greeks called it an andron, a place to eat and have discussions, even get entertained by performing artists.
The dining table constructed a power dynamic that happens when people of different class, race or gender relations sit and eat together, something that was replicated across centuries and in all advanced civilizations of the past.
... is a question of psychology as much as nutrition. We have to find a way to want to eat what’s good for us.
We make frequent attempts – more or less half-hearted – to change what we eat, but almost no effort to change how we feel about food: how well we deal with hunger, how strongly attached we are to sugar, our emotions on being served a small portion.
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