Listen to your stomach and not the ticking of the clock, because it’s past time humans evolved from our ancestral eating habits. Meal times are scheduled around the typical 9-to-5 workday, and first dates, family meeting times, and events like weddings all revolve around them. Humans may actually follow this routine more than any other in existence, but appetite doesn’t chime on the hour. In fact, it’s utterly unnatural to eat when we’re told.
As it turns out, eating three meals a day stemmed from European settlers, with whom it grew into the normal routine, eventually becoming the eating pattern of the New World. Native Americans were actually eating whenever they felt the urge to, rather than whenever the clock said morning, noon, or night. After the industrial revolution, people began to turn a midday meal into a lunchtime staple, and the after-work meal turned into dinner, a placeholder for the next meal.
“The eating schedule of the native tribes was less rigid… the Europeans took this as ‘evidence that natives were uncivilized,’” Abigail Carroll, author of the book Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal, told National Review. “Civilized people ate properly and boundaried their eating, thus differentiating themselves from the animal kingdom, where grazing is the norm.”
Breakfast, for example, is paraded around as the key to weight loss, but in truth, meal times were based on convenience and ritual. A person’s own eating behavior is one of the greatest determinants of health, and Cornell University researchers say it’s better to avoid going without food for more than three to four hours.
Recent research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition actually found eating breakfast doesn’t determine how many calories you’ll eat for the rest of the day, but instead how many calories you’ll burn. It helps calories burn faster once becoming active, but has litle effect on caloric. It may still be the most important meal of the day, but not because it leads to less indulging throughout the day.
One of the newest weight loss recommendations is intermittent fasting, and it actually rebels against current research that tells you to eat when you’re hungry and have six meals a day. Skipping your lunch break or going the entire day without any calories may not only be a weight loss recommendation but also the trick to a longer life. Reducing calorie consumption 30 to 40 percent can extend a person’s life span by a third or more, as many animal studies have shown, by making the brain resistant to toxins than cause cellular damage.
Constant eating doesn’t allow the body to experience starvation mode, or even hunger for that matter. European settlers changed the biological demands of eating and turned it into a forced food farce. Ignore the man-made routine and follow your own appetite for a healthier life, just like the Native Americans did.