Sunday Food: How Many Meals a Day Are Good for You?
(Picture courtesy of Jordan Klein at wikipedia commons.)
For much of my lifetime, I’ve been used to the routine of three meals a day; breakfast, lunch and dinner. We get up in the morning, most of us have some sort of caffeinated drink and a small meal. At lunch, most of us consider a sandwich a staple. At dinner, we go all out and usually include meat, starches of more than one kind, and some sort of vegetable.
Lately, traveling, I’ve gone from the three to usually two, with a large meal full of healthy content in mid-afternoon, as it takes up less time and saves on expenses. A time to stop and rest, as well as enjoy a good meal, is a good part of any day’s travel.
Such a nice feeling when you come across research that actually approves of your choices. Those two meals a day are showing the best research on work controlling diabetes. I have never experienced diabetes, myself, but understand it’s very common in western society, and will myself choose to avoid it if possible.
Scientists at the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague divided a group of 54 volunteers aged 30 to 70 with type 2 diabetes into two groups of 27 people.
Volunteers were then given either a six-meal-a-day diet (A6) for 12 weeks followed by a two-meal day diet (B2), or vice versa.
The study compared two meals with six meals – as the latter accorded with current practice advice in the Czech Republic, researchers said.
Each diet contained on average 1,700 calories a day.
‘Very pleasing’ result
The B2 group ate between 06:00 and 10:00 and then between 12:00 and 16:00, and the A6 group ate their food throughout the day.
Weight loss for the B2 group averaged 1.4kg (3lb) more than A6, and they lost about 4cm (1.5in) more from their waistlines.
Lead scientist Dr Hana Kahleova, at the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine, said the results were “very pleasing”.
She said: “The patients were really afraid they would get hungry in the evening but feelings of hunger were lower as the patients ate until they were satisfied.
“But when they ate six times a day the meals were not leaving them feeling satisfied. It was quite surprising.”
While I tend to concentrate on the healthy foods and have trail food (nuts mixed with dried fruit) for snacking, there are wide varieties of choices that are considered necessary by different types, and the ‘meat and potatoes’ diet is probably most common in the U.S. The acceptability of this sort of food varies with the times and popularized diets like paleo and Atkins, but many of us grew up in a society that associates meat with comfort, even prosperity. The same applies to how many meals a day we eat.
I get a charge out of the George Will sort insisting that having dinner around a table with your family makes a society work. Sorry, Serious People, sociopaths can come as easily from a family that gathers for traditional meals as they can from those that catch as catch can. On that same note, taking it as a rule that applies to everyone can also make this Two Meals a Day plan into nonsense as well, if it’s imposed on others that don’t fit to this or another measure.
I’m in a place where two meals works well, but that will change and change again, as our lifestyles do. The best any choice can do is fit to your needs and not inconvenience others.