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Eat Twice A Day?
I was reading a Jane Austen book (I think it was Pride and Prejudice) with editor’s commentary. One of the commentary notes mentioned how folks back in Jane’s time didn’t commonly eat breakfast. They had a long leisurely late morning/early noon meal and had a long and leisurely early evening meal.
That got me thinking, if people who lived a hundred or so years ago only ate two meals a day (people who were a lot more physically active than most of us are today) why are we eating three?
I’m not physically active and I don’t work out (working on working out), and yet I was eating three times a day; mainly because my body was telling me I was hungry. I suffered from a condition called “hangry” were I would become visibly and emotionally angry if I did not eat within a specified time period. So this comment didn’t jive with my brain. I just didn’t get how anyone could live off of two meals a day!
A Brief Look Into Eating Habits Over Time
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Historically, regions throughout the Middle East ate one large meal around noon and some of those regions also added a light meal in the evening. Going farther back to ancient Rome, this article states that they didn’t eat until around noon as breakfast was culturally frowned upon. A quote from the article states “The Romans believed it was healthier to eat only one meal a day. They were obsessed with digestion and eating more than one meal was considered a form of gluttony. This thinking impacted on the way people are for a very long time.”
Even in our time the eating habits of other countries differs from ours, although they are starting to pick up our habits. So what’s the deal? How did this start?
In short, the Industrial Revolution happened. As people started working in factories and having set amount of hours away from the home, they needed to change their eating habits in order to have enough energy to endure the demands of their jobs.
But What Does The Research Say About It?
There are many studies out on the subject. The new ones coming out contradict some of the nutritional advice previously given. For instance, eating breakfast was thought to help with weight loss, and eating more frequent smaller meals was thought to help keep up blood sugar levels. However studies have shown that eating like this doesn’t burn fat or help control metabolism.
There is also health research out about the benefits of short-term fasting, intermittent fasting, and alternate-day fasting. Like this one which found that eating two meals a day resulted in better weight loss than eating six. Also in this study they found that liver fat and insulin sensitivity was lower in those who ate twice a day.
I know we hear how we need to eat breakfast for energy and mental alertness in the morning, however this study refutes that claim as well. You don’t need to eat breakfast to be mentally alert.
Hold Your Horses Trying This If…
I think it’s important to mention that fasting of any type is not recommended for those with adrenal fatigue, women that are pregnant or nursing, hypoglycemic, diabetic, and those with cortisol dysregulation.
A yogi eats once a day, a bhogi eats twice [and] a rogi eat[s] three times a day, and it takes four men to carry you to the funeral pyre.
The meaning of the poem from the site:
A person of knowledge eats only once a day
One who is of the enjoyment of the world eats twice a day
One who eats three times a day ends up diseased
And one who eats more than [three] times a day sees their death early.
From my own experience, eating seems to be as much of a habit as it is a necessity for life. I found that after three days of cutting out breakfast, I didn’t miss it anymore, my “hangry” condition disappeared (which means I need another excuse), and I lost those last few stubborn pounds that would not go away.
I’d like to include a word of caution here. Like anything else, there is no “one size fits all” for healthy living. Everyone has their own health journey and needs to decided if something truly is healthy and beneficial for themselves. I might thrive and do well on something whereas someone else may do terrible on it. A prime example is the adaptogen ashwagandha. The health benefits of this compound are reported all over the internet, and after reading a few I purchased some to include in my supplement regimen. After a couple of days of taking it I felt “off”. It wasn’t that my head hurt, or I had back pain, but I just wasn’t feeling like myself. I stopped taking the pills immediately afterwards and decided I needed to do some further research. I discovered that ashwagandha is in the nightshade family and I am very sensitive to compounds from this botanical family. I ended up passing the pills on to a friend. Take what I or any other person tells you as a reference or guide and learn what foods, supplements, and habits help YOU to thrive and live your life to the fullest!
So What Do You Think?
Share with me your eating habits? Think you would try giving up either breakfast or dinner? Let me know your thoughts below.