On eating three meals per day

September 25, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More

Who created the “rule” that we need to eat three meals per day? At Alternet, Anneli Rufus looks at the history of how we eat. Here’s an excerpt:

“There is no biological reason for eating three meals a day,” says Yale University history professor Paul Freedman, editor of Food: The History of Taste (University of California Press, 2007).

The number of meals eaten per day, along with the standard hour and fare for each, “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,” Freedman says.

But there do seem to be benefits to a family eating meals together:

“American parents have a particular kind of guilt about the disappearance of family meals,” Freedman says. Perhaps for good reason: A recent University of Minnesota study found that habitual shared family meals improve nutrition, academic performance and interpersonal skills and reduce the risk of eating disorders.


Category: Culture, Food

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Jim Razinha says:

    “Cultural patterns” – absolutely. Visit (or read about) virtually any country outside the Kellogg’s/Post/General Mills U.S. of A. and you’ll find some very different breakfasts. And other meals, of course.

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