Why is 3 meals a day a unit rate 4 main reasons.
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“Food is the fuel your body needs. But never be in the habit of over fueling or underfueling your body.”
Most of us follow the 3 meal a day routine without understanding why. We were told never to skip breakfast; to eat more in the morning because that’s when our metabolism is usually at its highest. We were also told to eat moderately at noon and night because our metabolism slows down as the day progresses.
But what happens if we don’t eat three meals a day? Why is 3 meals a day a unit rate in many societies? Where does this routine come from?
There are many confusing facts about the origin of three meals per day; however, some reports remain consistent.
- The now famous 3 meals per day originated in England.
- The eating pattern became popular in the 18th century during the industrial revolution when people had to work longer hours. They would eat very early in the morning to gain strength for the day, but it was not enough to sustain them till evening. Therefore they eat at noon to gain energy for work till they are dismissed from work.
- It is said that before the 18th century, people ate once or twice a day or whenever they felt hungry. For example, the Romans ate once a day because they thought it was healthier. Native Americans ate once or twice a day.
How did Americans adopt the three meals per day routine? When Britain colonized America, they introduced a new way of life to their colony.
Why do we eat 3 meals a day?
The main purpose of eating 3 times a day are to help us;
- Regulate our hunger better and sustain enough energy throughout the day.
- Monitor our blood sugar levels.
- Maintain healthy intervals between meals to give our body enough time to digest and use up what we’ve fed it.
- Pay attention to our diet.
Regulate our appetite and sustain energy throughout the day.
We eat 3 meals a day to help us gain control over our feeling of hunger and, secondly, to distribute our energy supply throughout the day evenly.
It is said that an adult needs between 1800-3000 calories each day to function and maintain a healthy weight. Imagine eating a 2000-calorie breakfast and expecting it to carry you throughout the day without craving for or eating any other meal. Sadly, this method rarely works for most people.
When we eat our daily calorie requirement in one meal, we risk overeating/over-fueling our bodies. Most of us end up grazing. Check the definition of grazing below.
Eating three times daily ensures that your body maximizes every calorie intake to function throughout the day.
Monitor our blood sugar levels.
Our eating pattern affects our blood sugar levels, health, and overall quality of life. Sadly, many people do not pay attention to their blood sugar level until they begin to notice problematic symptoms. A lack of eating patterns could result in excessive or low blood sugar levels. When our blood sugar level is poorly managed, we make ourselves prone to heart diseases, vision loss, kidney disease, and terrible moods cdc.gov.
According to the World Health Organization, WHO, an adult’s normal blood sugar level, measured against the last time a person ate, should range between 70 and 100 mg/dL before a meal and less than 140 mg/dL two hours after a meal. This number may vary from person to person depending on some unique conditions; for example, the blood sugar level of a pregnant woman could be considerably higher 2 hours after eating.
If after 8 hours of not eating and an adult’s blood sugar ranges between 100 to 125 mg/dL, such a person is metaphorically about to jump into the deep blue sea. Diabetes lurks around their dining room, waiting to feast on their health. Lifestyle change is what’s needed to turn such incidence around. If your blood sugar exceeds 125md/dL after 8 hours of not eating, nutritionists say that you are chilling with diabetes.
You are more likely to accurately account for your calorie intake when you routine your eating to 3 meals a day. However, when you eat many times a day, you could lose count of all you’ve eaten, making it difficult to keep track of your calorie intake.
Besides eating excessively, you must know other factors that could help you regulate or ruin your blood sugar level. They include stress, exercise, meal timing, dehydration, illnesses, alcohol, medication, level of activity, little sleep, etcetera.
Fun fact; Did you know that over 37 million Americans have diabetes, and a greater population of them are adults?
Maintain healthy intervals between meals.
A healthy eating behavior includes what you eat and when you eat. Nutritionists generally recommend that we wait between 3-5 hours after a meal before eating our next meal to help our body digest and use up available energy.
Eating close to each meal can cause a continuous and sudden spike in glucose levels, leading to various health risks. Waiting longer than 6-8 hours after a meal can result in low blood sugar, stomach irritation due to increased acidity, low energy, shakiness, and a heavy appetite insider.com.
Eating frequently does not give your body enough time to burn fat because the energy for burning fat goes to food digestion.
Pay attention to our diet.
A healthy eating behavior pays attention to what we eat when we eat, and how much we eat. Our eating routine should accommodate all the necessary food nutrients to give our body a balanced diet.
We are more likely to plan and give a better account of our diet when we eat three times a day. We’ll be able to identify what’s lacking in our diet and how our body responds to certain diets, unlike if we graze throughout the day.
How many meals should we eat per day?
In recent years, there has been a massive shift from a routined 3 meal per day lifestyle and an increase in daily meal frequency in America. It begs the question of whether dropping the 3 meals per day is acceptable, or are there dare consequences in adopting other meal frequency patterns?
There are lots of controversies surrounding meal frequency in America. Many nutritionists argue that eating three 1000-calorie meals is the same as eating 6 of 500 calories meals. They argue that eating three meals a day is not what’s important, but the amount of calories you consume each meal, and this argument has sat well with many Americans. It Logically makes sense.
Some nutritionists further argue that eating more than three meals a day in small quantities will help you sustain a good level of energy throughout the day; however, not all nutritionists support this line of argument. They instead argue that there is a higher temptation to consume more calories than the body needs when a person is in the habit of eating frequently. Secondly, eating frequently denies the body enough time to burn fat when meals are eaten frequently.
What’s more interesting is that it’s been debunked that eating multiple small meals throughout the day increases your metabolism and helps you to burn fat fast. Rather, its been said that a sudden and continuous spike in blood sugar levels could signal the body to convert food to fats and store them. It could also burden the liver.
Secondly, it has also been debunked that skipping meals is completely bad. A handful of experts encourage fasting once or twice a week. If you feel like giving your body a few hours or days break from food, you can go ahead. It is ok to reduce the number of times you eat a day; so far you do not do excessively and make your body starve often. Our body needs every food nutrient to function optimally.
3 meals a day vs. calorie intake.
Most health practitioners agree that what’s most important is the number of calories a person consumes daily. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, the estimated calorie intake for male adults ranges from 2400-3000 calories per day while female adults range from 2000-2400 calories per day depending on their activity level. See the Charts below for more details.
When you eat 3 meals a day, do you stick to your calorie intake? Does your meal frequency adhere to the recommended calorie intake?
Consuming more calories than your body requires will lead to overweight/ obesity, while consuming fewer calories than your body requires will lead to weight loss. Both extremes come with risks, which is why nutritionists focus more on Americans planning their diet and maintaining a healthy calorie intake than how frequently they eat.
You can eat three meals a day and exceed your calorie intake, and you can also eat more than three times a day and not exceed your calorie intake for the day.
Eating frequency, timing, and weight.
America is currently fighting a weight battle. The NIDDK health statistics show that 1 in 3 men and 1 in 4 women are overweight in America. It makes one wonder if the increase in the number of fat people in America has anything to do with their eating frequency and timing. It’s been found that eating frequency and timing do affect weight.
Do Americans stick to just 3 meals per day? And secondly, do Americans eat at the best times of the day?
Nutritionists recommend eating our best meal in the morning, around 7 am, because the body’s metabolism is at its highest. Although American agree that breakfast is important, many Americans say they do not have time for breakfast, statista.com.
Eleven am is the recommended time for lunch. Most Americans eat lunch between 11;30 am and 2 pm.
Lastly, Nutritionists do not recommend late dinners. We are expected to eat at 5- 7 pm. But how many Americans are timely with their dinners? It’s been said that the body does not get enough time to digest and burn off calories when we eat very late at night.
It would seem that many Americans have a haphazard eating pattern. Many Americans are grazing. Grazing is defined as “frequent eating of an undefined portion of food, during undefined periods of the day, with short intervals between each graze.” JeanHailes.com.
Studies have also found that Americans have a huge snacking habit. Essentially, Americans find it difficult to stick to 3 meals a day eating habit.
Frequently asked questions
Why is it standard to eat 3 meals per day?
3 meals per day is standard because many health practitioners believe we have a better chance of managing our eating behavior properly when we stick to a routine eating habit. We can;
- Regulate our appetite and sustain our energy throughout the day.
- Monitor our blood sugar levels
- Maintain healthy intervals between meals
- Pay attention to our diet to balance it.
How many meals should we eat per day?
Arguments surrounding meal frequency are very controversial. While some nutritionists give the go-ahead to eating more than 3 meals daily, others believe that eating 3 times a day helps you to regulate your eating habits better. However, most nutritionists agree that monitoring one’s calorie intake is more important than how many times a person eats per day.
There isn’t just one answer to how often a person should eat daily. But to help you choose a better eating pattern, you should understand the views of various health authors/ nutritionists on the effects of eating patterns or frequency on health; why they recommend eating 3 times a day, or why they are so keen on people having a consistent eating pattern.
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