Nearly every healthy eating plan includes the advice to have 3 regular meals per day and to never ever skip breakfast. This, however, is not how we are designed to eat and many studies have shown that periods of fasting are actually very beneficial for our health. It has shown to decrease chronic illness and increase lifespan. Light fasting can improve blood glucose regulation.
You don’t have to be an archaeologist to work out that our first ancestors did not have regular meal times. Food would be consumed as and when it would become available and availability varied wildly depending on season and environment. Our bodies are designed to deal with that.
Egyptians ate two meals a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. The very wealthy would munch throughout the day. The Romans did not eat breakfast; in fact breakfast was frowned upon in Roman times. Romans were very concerned about digestion and eating several meals in a day was considered as gluttony, so usually only one meal was eaten at lunch time. From the 17th century the wealthy in Western societies started to have breakfast and from the industrial revolution in the 19th century 3 regular meals became the norm in Western society. However, there is no evidence that any of these meal frequencies are the healthiest way to eat.
If we eat real, unprocessed food with a variety of proteins, vegetables and healthy fats our body will let us know when we need to refuel and it may not necessary be at breakfast, lunch or dinner time. If we don’t eat the right foods our body’s satiation signalling system will be malfunctioning. This will lead us to feel hungry when we don’t necessarily need to refuel (but are most likely lacking nutrients) and result in over-eating and overweight.
The first and most important step to good health is eating good food. The next step is to ask yourself whether you are actually hungry before you tuck in.