An Alternative to Three Meals a Day

Feeling hungry is a natural part of the human experience.  We desire to eat, crave certain foods, and satiate ourselves with the help of cooking (or other forms of meal preparation).  However, the ways in which we eat are not always the most sustainable, and by that I refer not to our diet, but the habits we’ve formed about timing our meals.  This, I’m afraid, is often an overlooked aspect of sustainable nutrition.

At least in contemporary American society, we commonly view the day as consisting of three major meals: breakfast, lunchtime, and dinner.  These are more or less set-aside periods, based on the time of day, where we can fill our stomachs and continue on with school, work, etc.  However, having meals spaced out like this can incentivize us to eat more than we really should.  It takes some time for our brains to realize our stomachs are full, but by that time, it’s too late.  While feasting can be fun in moderation, it can make us feel sluggish, not to mention the potential for wasted food items.

If you’re stuck in the three-meal cycle and want to try something different, try eating smaller increments throughout the day, in lieu of eating excess calories fewer times (this is something I too need to work on).  And yes, that means snacking is OK, if executed properly!

This style of eating, when juxtaposed with the traditional “three meals a day,” offers a couple of important benefits.  1) Hunger can be satiated, but not to the extent where you feel completely full.  By eating smaller portions and snacking more frequently, it’s easier to get focused and maintain that focus throughout the workday.  2) Perhaps more importantly, swings in blood sugar level aren’t as severe.

This style of eating is for more than just those with a small appetite.  Different people have different quotas for a caloric intake, so naturally, portion sizes can be divided into increments that will add up to approximately the same number of calories one would eat in a “three meals a day” system.

In essence, the clock should not be the sole arbiter on how and when you eat.  Listen to your body, and develop a food plan that’s right for you.  There’s a greater context to sustainable nutrition than just what we eat – when and how we eat needs to be remembered on equal footing.


Written by Dax Emerson, Class of 2021

Photo Credits: Lily Banse on Unsplash