The 3 Meals a Day Myth | How Many Meals a Day Is Healthy?

The 3 Meals a Day Myth The 3 Meals a Day Myth | How Many Meals a Day Is Healthy?

Yes, I know. How audacious! Everybody knows it is the most healthy to eat three meals a day. That’s what we’ve done since… I don’t know… FOREVER! Because… somebody… said we should…

So what is this 3 meals a day myth I speak of? And if this eating 3 meals a day is truly a myth, how many meals a day is healthy??

Here’s what we’re going to be going through today, regarding this:

  • The 3 meals a day myth – is it a myth?
  • Where did the 3 meals a day myth come from?
  • How many meals a day is healthy, then?
  • Should you eat 6 small meals a day?
  • Eating 6 small meals a day For Weight Loss
  • Does Eating Affect Sleep? 

The 3 Meals a Day Myth – Is It a Myth?

At the risk of not using enough suspense and losing you too soon, I’m just going to say this right off the hop:

It is the amount of calories you consume in a day that really matters, rather than when and how often you consume them. And you can get used to any eating schedule. Or you can not have a schedule. You could just eat when you are hungry. But for some this will not be ideal. We’ll get more into that as we go along.

But I also wanted to add first that the family tradition of gathering around the table at supper time is something that I believe is a good thing. Families are so all over the place with all of their various busy activities, and it is nice to have a set time when everyone is expected to hang out together, to touch base, and check in on one another. It wouldn’t have to be a meal, necessarily, but the family eating together seems to me sort of a blessed practice, which is all but lost now, it seems.

Where Did the Eating 3 Meals a Day Myth Come From?ren and stimpy - How Many Meals a Day Is Healthy?

There are cultural roots to the 3 meals a day thing, one of which started with the wealthy European settlers to North America. They began doing the 3 meals a day thing to distinguish them from the “uncivilized” natives, who did not have this structure. But when they eventually adopted it, they became fat!

Another fundamental reason we do this 3 meals a day religion is because of government “guidelines”, which they love to impose on us. And thinking about that is what got me interested in writing this article.

I’m finding it easier and easier, as I go along, to discover how these government “guidelines” are pure control tactics, imposed for reasons I’m not here to spew at you. You can take that wherever you choose to, if you choose to do anything with it.

Also, it is curious that in the earlier decades of the 20th century breakfast became heralded as “the most important meal of the day”, just around the time that breakfast food companies started to become filthy rich.

How Many Meals a Day Is Healthy, Then?

So, is it okay to eat 3 meals a day? Of course!

But we have to remember that people are different. How much or how often we eat depends on what we are eating, our level of health, our weight, and how active we are. And also, some of us eat when we are hungry, and others of us eat when we think we are hungry. Depending on who we are, our brain may not always be in agreeance with our stomach. And this might be more of a psychological thing, which is another article.

should you eat 6 small meals a day - ren showing he's just skin and bones

Should You Eat 6 Small Meals a Day?

Here is an article from a lady who decided to try eating more small meals per day, and what she found.

Eating “mini-meals” is known to aid in satisfying the hunger pangs, as well as providing nutrients to the body more often throughout the day. It will also usually be more effective in stabilizing blood sugar levels.

Eating less more often could also make your metabolism more efficient, as opposed to eating more, with bigger spaces of time in between eatings. That’s right, eatings. Eating sessions. Chow-fests. Food-consumption events…

In other words, our metabolism may become slower, the more time there is between regular food-consumption events.

Again, people are different. But as a general rule, you should probably not eat less than 3 meals a day. The longer the time between eating, the lower your energy levels will get. I think this might be why my childhood friend’s grandfather (who used to only get 2 meals a day because of his wife’s religion) used to regularly fall asleep in his dinner plate…

Okay, I just made that up.

I actually didn’t have any childhood friends. Well, I had one. He was minuscule. He rode around on my left shoe and I had to squint to see him. His parents were both dead, so they couldn’t afford grandparents for Minuscule. Times were awful in the 1970s. Just look at any photograph.

eating 6 small meals a day - ren and stimpy eating sandwiches

Eating 6 Small Meals a Day For Weight Loss

Here’s why I would eat 6 small meals a day, if I was somebody prone to workaholism.

It is a bit sad that we would have to set an alarm, who need to be told to stop and step back, frequently. And maybe while we’re getting a shift on our perspective of things for a minute, we could get a tuna sandwich in us.

This would apply to musicians and artists and anyone who tends to obsess over what they do and forgets to eat.

Take six breaks a day, and have a snack, while you’re at it. But not pizza, future rock stars…

Six small meals a day makes sense to me, but for me…? I was never one on whom routine worked. I’ve tried many times, and it never quite sticks. I’m pretty much an eat-when-you’re-hungry person.

But there is likely some benefit to eating smaller meals more often, as far as your body maintaining more balanced blood sugar levels throughout the day. Also, your stomach will start to feel more full with smaller doses, which could eventually be good for weight loss. Eating large meals causes you to be more hungry before the next meal, and so you feel like you have to eat more.

does eating affect sleep? Ren Hoek insomnia

Does Eating Affect Sleep?

Does when you eat affect your sleep?

It does with me.

If I get up at 6am (I rarely do, but let’s just say), and don’t eat until 2pm, I don’t sleep that night. Many people actually have to force themselves to eat earlier, as the later they eat after waking up, the later it might get every day that they eat their first meal. It can become a bad cycle if they are someone whose eating patterns really coincide with their sleep patterns.

But if you are not one of these people, you can get accustomed to not eating until dinner time, and function.

Many believe that unless you are very athletic, or have a physically demanding job, your body actually does a lot better without much food until late in the day.

Let’s Wrap It Up

There are so many diverse positions on this topic, professional and otherwise, I found it extremely difficult to come up with anything too concrete for the sake of this article.

Here is a more certain view, but keep in mind that there are other opinions out there that are just as cock-sure, but completely different, and also by health “professionals”.

As mentioned already, people are different and have different bodies and different lives. If you feel maybe something other than the 3 meals a day “standard” might be better for you, try different things. Try just eating when you are hungry, or maybe set a schedule for eating 5 or 6 small meals a day. See what works.

Just try to eat good, healthy things. That is the main thing. Processed food is terrible, if you don’t know. Avoid it and you should be good!

There is a fascinating and eye-opening book by Dr. Robert Lustig, whose message is that food producers, pharmaceutical companies, and even the federal government are all actively working against you; to benefit themselves while they knowingly cause you to remain unhealthy.

The book is called “Metabolical” , and will shock and appall you.

 

What Is Bad About Processed Food?

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8 thoughts on “The 3 Meals a Day Myth | How Many Meals a Day Is Healthy?”

  1. Hi Craig. Thank you for very interesting article. My parents were always telling me that its best to have three meals by day, but concept of having 6 mini ones is very interesting. Especially that it supports weight loosing and also having smaller meal in evening is probably good for sleep. Never tried it before but looking forward to test this approach in practice.

    Reply
  2. Hello Craig,

    This is a very interesting article. I have never really put much thought into where the Three Meals A Day coma from. I myself do not have the lifestyle that allows it. I am one of the guys you mentioned in the latter part of the article that gets up early and doesn’t eat until much later. I go from about 4:30 am to noon without eating. 

    I am in construction so I am very active and at 12 o’clock lunchtime, it is time to beat up on some groceries! I typically feel fine through the morning and the regular meal does give me fuel. You can feel it! 

    The biggest problem I have is, I get finished with work, and trying to utilize the most daylight I can, I go home and do chores on the nights I am not tied up teaching a class two nights a week. This lifestyle has put me in the worst habit of all, Eating right before bed. I have put on about 30 pounds in the last 2 tears and I am not liking it! 

    After reading this article, I am going to try to force myself to eat smaller portions more often and see if I can naturally start to shed some of the weight. Give me a couple of months and I will come back to see how this worked. 

    I am not into the regime and being herded into submission either. I like the way you have put this and feel you have the best interest for others’ wellbeing in mind. Thanks for sharing! 

    Talk soon!

    Chad

    Reply
    • Thank you very much Chad, and I would very much like to know how you make out! 

      Talk to you in a bit.

      Reply
  3. Hi. It is interesting that there are so many opinions on this subject. I think it is also interesting to think about how we evolved as homo sapiens and the times throughout our history and pre-history that we have spent with different daily routines. I think it is quite clear that we spent most of our time as hunter-gatherers since agriculture is only about 10 or 12 thousand years old. Of course, hunting and gathering is a fairly precarious existence so you have to ask yourself what evolutionary traits in relation to dietary and eating habits would have been favored. Probably being able to go without for long times would have been good. Also being able to stock up on one particular nutrient when that was abundant would be OK as well. While it may have been cold in the back of the cave most cavemen probably didn’t have refrigerators. And besides, the sabretooth tigers lurking in the back of the cave would have feasted on whatever stored food they found. I guess this is part of the logic for keto diets and other ways of mimicking hunter-gatherer eating habits. I have heard this is one reason why fasting is actually good for most of us. Arguments could also be made that you can take this stuff too far as well. Estimates are that hunter-gatherer life expectancy was often pretty short depending on circumstances and in most cases certainly nowhere near three-score years and ten. Could a group of hunter-gatherers organize themselves around 6 meals a day – probably, but having the flexibility and resilience to go without once in a while would be good too. Best regards, Andy

    Reply
  4. Interesting article and if you think about it, our ancestors didn’t eat regular meals, they ate when they could find food often going long periods of time between meals. One company that has really helped me (I am not affiliated in any way) is GMB. They have an eating skills course that looks at guidelines and skills. Our relationship with food is so complex but it doesn’t need to be.

    Reply
    • Hey Jamie. I agree that it has been made more complicated than it needs to be. 

      Thanks for your response, and I am going to check out GMB. 

      Cheers.

      Reply

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