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The myth of breakfast, lunch and dinner

romans digestion gluttony john harvey kellogg

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#1 Hum

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 01:14

British people - and many others across the world - have been brought up on the idea of three square meals a day as a normal eating pattern, but it wasn't always that way.

People are repeatedly told the hallowed family dinner around a table is in decline and the UK is not the only country experiencing such change.

The case for breakfast, missed by many with deleterious effects, is that it makes us more alert, helps keep us trim and improves children's work and behaviour at school.

But when people worry that breaking with the traditional three meals a day is harmful, are they right about the traditional part? Have people always eaten in that pattern?

Breakfast as we know it didn't exist for large parts of history. The Romans didn't really eat it, usually consuming only one meal a day around noon, says food historian Caroline Yeldham. In fact, breakfast was actively frowned upon.

"The Romans believed it was healthier to eat only one meal a day," she says. "They were obsessed with digestion and eating more than one meal was considered a form of gluttony. This thinking impacted on the way people ate for a very long time."

In the Middle Ages monastic life largely shaped when people ate, says food historian Ivan Day. Nothing could be eaten before morning Mass and meat could only be eaten for half the days of the year. It's thought the word breakfast entered the English language during this time and literally meant "break the night's fast".

Religious ritual also gave us the full English breakfast. On Collop Monday, the day before Shrove Tuesday, people had to use up meat before the start of Lent. Much of that meat was pork and bacon as pigs were kept by many people. The meat was often eaten with eggs, which also had to be used up, and the precursor of the full English breakfast was born.

But at the time it probably wasn't eaten in the morning.

In about the 17th Century it is believed that all social classes started eating breakfast, according to chef Clarissa Dickson Wright. After the restoration of Charles II, coffee, tea and dishes like scrambled eggs started to appear on the tables of the wealthy. By the late 1740s, breakfast rooms also started appearing in the homes of the rich.

This morning meal reached new levels of decadence in aristocratic circles in the 19th Century, with the fashion for hunting parties that lasted days, even weeks. Up to 24 dishes would be served for breakfast.

The Industrial Revolution in the mid-19th Century regularised working hours, with labourers needing an early meal to sustain them at work. All classes started to eat a meal before going to work, even the bosses.

At the turn of the 20th Century, breakfast was revolutionised once again by American John Harvey Kellogg. He accidentally left some boiled maize out and it went stale. He passed it through some rollers and baked it, creating the world's first cornflake. He sparked a multi-billion pound industry.

By the 1920s and 1930s the government was promoting breakfast as the most important meal of the day, but then World War II made the usual breakfast fare hard to get. But as Britain emerged from the post-war years into the economically liberated 1950s, things like American toasters, sliced bread, instant coffee and pre-sugared cereals invaded the home. Breakfast as we now know it.

It's the Earl of Sandwich's famous late-night snack from the 1750s that has come to dominate the modern lunchtime menu. One evening he ordered his valet to bring him cold meats between some bread. He could eat the snack with just one hand and wouldn't get grease on anything.

Today the average time taken to eat lunch - usually in front of the computer - is roughly 15 minutes, according to researchers at the University of Westminster. The original meaning of lunch or "nuncheon" as a small, quick snack between proper meals is just as apt now as it ever was.

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#2 Growled

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 01:42

I rarely eat breakfast. I am not a morning person and I don't care to eat. I usually eat a snack for lunch and then a normal early evening meal. Probably not too healthy but I'm not much of an eater anyway.

#3 linsook

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 01:47

if im sitting around at home all day, i sometime eat constantly just cause i have nothing else to do. i become a glutton. on the flip side when i'm working, i go through the day till dinner. i have breakfast occasionally.

#4 OP Hum

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 01:50

I eat before bedtime :p

#5 +chconline

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 01:56

I used to not eat breakfast until I started working, because I didn't have as regular of a schedule. Now that I'm in the office at 8 am every day, I start all my morning business at work... including breakfast :p

#6 Growled

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 01:57

I eat before bedtime :p


That'll give you nightmares.

#7 brianshapiro

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 02:01

At the turn of the 20th Century, breakfast was revolutionised once again by American John Harvey Kellogg. He accidentally left some boiled maize out and it went stale. He passed it through some rollers and baked it, creating the world's first cornflake. He sparked a multi-billion pound industry.


This is mostly an interesting article but, with certain things like this facts are selected that give a wrong impression. Its true that mass production of dry cereal products began around the turn of the century, but people have been eating porridge since prehistoric times -- a porridge is made by mixing various grains, seeds, and berries with milk, sour milk, or whey. Basically, a form of cereal. Various porridges have been found in 5,000 year old bog bodies. Maize was also used for porridge in the Americas before Kellogg invented corn flakes.

#8 Raa

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 02:20

That'll give you nightmares.

Or quite possibly, a heart attack. I used to do this and found out just how bad it actually is. I don't eat at least 2 hours before bed anymore!

But I also don't eat breakfast either...

#9 remixedcat

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 02:31

I had applebee's for breakfast... 3 cheese chicken penne.... and a nice cup of coffee... at 7:50PM.

#10 Growled

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 04:23

^ It's never too late for a good meal. :)

#11 -T-

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 04:54

I eat once a day at most, and I'm pretty out of shape no doubt due to this. I never eat breakfast and hardly ever lunch,

#12 srbeen

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 05:03

I always eat within 2 hr of wakening to 'boost up' the metabolism and get it goin'. Light snacks every 3-4 hr, and a good meal for dinner with some veggies and protein. None of this boxed/breaded/fried crap

That'll give you nightmares.


Not if you are eating because you got the munchies.

Its very true that smoking pot will inhibit your ability to remember dreams, or nightmares, and cause pre-bedtime cravings for salt and crunchy...

#13 Andre S.

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 05:06

Title of the thread is misleading and is not the title of the original article. The article doesn't attempt to prove that breakfast is any way a "myth", it just traces its history.

#14 +zhiVago

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 11:36

I always drink a glass of water as soon as I wake up because the body is dehydrated and the acidity in the stomach is at the highest level in the morning.

The most important thing is to listen to one's own body, establish a routine, a regime, and stick to it.

I used to it eat when I wanted to and then my body got used to it and established its own "food intake schedule" so to speak.

I've also heard from many dietitians that forcing a body to eat when it's not hungry is actually harmful.

#15 AR556

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 12:12

I've been heavy most of my life. Over the years, I have gone from near 400lbs down to 175~200 3 times. First while I was in High School, on a very strict 800 calories diet. Dropped all the weight in less than 6 months. Road a bicycle everywhere so once I started eating more, the weight stayed off.....till I got drivers license..then it slowly packed back on. A few years later, went on the Atkins diet and lost it all again and felt good, but failed on this one to because I got tired of eating meat, eggs and cheese all the time. Unfortunately, I am very sensitive to carbs and going over 20 carbs a day halted the weight loss, so If I wanted to stay on Atkins, it meant being stuck on the introductory period of the diet. The time I took it off was on a 1200~1500 calorie diet. This wasn't as bad as being on 800 calories and again, I took the weight off over the course of 8 months. I failed on this one because I slowly started eating more and more.

My problem has never been about taking weight off, it always been my end game. I always looked at the last pound I needed to lose as the "end". There is no end. You have to change the way you eat forever to keep weight off, period. A few months ago, I stopped eating 3 times a day. Gave up dinner for a couple of weeks, then breakfast. I make an effort not to eat garbage (fast food), but other than that, I eat pretty much whatever I want and have been losing 2~3 pounds a week since I started. My end game is that there is no end game. Eating once a day is just normal for me now, so I intend to keep on doing it. I also go to the gym and run/walk a couple miles every day but its not required for me as I was losing weight before I started exercising.

This method of weight loss hasn't been popular with some friends and my doctor. My doctor thinks I should eat 4~5 small meals a day and my friends just say that its not good for me. I think that as long as your body gets enough fuel within a reasonable time frame, there is no problem. I probably take in about 1700~2000 calories at lunch. I'd rather eat one good meal and be satisfied than to eat tiny little crap meals, but thats just me. Do I get hungry sometimes? of course, but its not really hunger. These are cravings. They pass quickly and it sure as hell beats being fat! Everyone is different, so what I'm doing may not work for someone else. There are people that have metabolic issues and can't lose weight no matter what they do. For a lot of people, the problem is just eating more than they need to.