Three meals a day - An unhealthy concept !
Updated: Jun 23
In this article we will examine if the traditional idea of 3 meals a day is a healthy one for the current times and generation where most of us , work on computers or through online engagements and all our physical activity put together in a weeks time is much less what ordinarily the common man used to do in one day.
The century before
The idea of having 3 meals a day comes from the previous centuries, where, we did not have scooters, motor bikes, cars, public transport and where the average common man walked ( one of the least exercises ) apart from a lot more exercises in conventional life, including lifting objects and working physically hard. From hunting, to making things to even farming the common man was engaged in a lot of things - that just could not be done on the click of a mouse or button on your phone. Such a physical body needed energy and thus the concept of 3 meals to keep a person going.
Most of us (80% global population) engages in a very sluggish/sedentary lifestyle especially after COVID-19 crises worldwide, where most of us are living indoors and we spend most of our living time on chairs, sofas, or beds with barely any time for anything physical to meet our needs. Everything from food to shopping can be done by merely clicking on an app.
The stomach and its functioning as per Ayurveda
As per Ayurveda, every organ of the body can not work at its optimum around the clock and every organ peaks in its function once or twice a day. As per Ayurveda, the function of digestion ( also known as digestive fire / Jatthar Agni ) peaks within 3 hours of waking up and 45 minutes before sunset ( which is strictly speaking for places on earth which have a very even sunrise and sunset time across the year. This concept could not be directly applied for most northern european nations that experience very long days in summer and very short ones during the winter times.
If we were to have our food , during these specific times of the day when our digestive fire is very strong and optimal, then we would naturally be aligning ourselves with nature and have an easy digestion. During the noon time or during the afternoon, the digestive fire is the slowest and thus any food eaten at this time of the day , finds itself hard to digest and can cause any of the following
Inability to focus clearly
But why must food during afternoon bring this state of body? During afternoon, since the digestive fire is at its lowest, thus the moment we eat some food the digestive fire needs to be artificially activated. To do so, the stomach needs energy and to get energy, the stomach ends up pulling blood and oxygen from other organs of the body ( such as nervous system , brain, lungs etc) When this happens the mind becomes slow and the ability to focus becomes low. The breathing thus becomes hard and slow and lethargy sets in. This is a reason why in most cultures still, after the meals in the noon time, people tend to go for a siesta or sleep.
Increase energy, remove digestive issues & gain focus
2 meals a day - The new health mantra
So what are we suggesting? We suggest changing your food lifestyle to two meals a day instead of 3 meals a day. The meals must be at a fixed hour everyday. Morning breakfast before 10 am and evening dinner between 5-6 pm. The only exception to this rule would be in case you are a sportsperson or someone with a super active physical lifestyle as a part of your work. For people in countries where the sunrise and sunset time are uneven and vary a lot, we would still suggest the same 2 meals a day however you must have your meals at a particular time everyday to get the best from your digestive function.
If we have our meals at a specific hour everyday, the body gears itself accordingly and if this time matches with the time when the stomach functions optimally, then such food is easy to digest and keeps the body disease free.
During the afternoons, especially for people switching to this lifestyle they may initially feel hungry during lunch hours, so we need to fill it with drinking water, juices and a light fruit and vegetable salad. If you keep yourself hungry during this time, your body will activate a fasting state which will prevent lethargy, ease digestive function and help you retain focus by preventing any loss of oxygen and blood from the cerebral part to the lower parts of the body.
For a lot of cultures in Asia, where it is a normal trend to eat right before sleeping, this will ensure a good gap of 5 hours between dinner and sleeping and thus ensuring optimum digestion and the stomach resting as the person takes a sleep during the night. An active stomach during the night time, is unhealthy and also exhausting since a lot of people experience being tired even after getting up, since their body was not fully able to relax.
Works for elderly and senior citizens too
The two meals a day has shown amazing results with elderly folks as well, experiencing chronic fatigue and stomach disorders. However what is extremely important is to look out for, is what you are adding in your diet and we highly suggest breakfast to consist of raw vegetables and seasonal fruits and must include seeds such as Chia, Pumpkin and any other favourites one may have , followed by yoghurt along with honey - followed by any cooked food of your personal liking. This could consist of eggs, bread, or any dish that you find delicious.
Luncheons should be mostly nothing / fasting or water and fruit juices
Dinner between 5-6 pm should consist of any food that you may like, however be careful to ensure 90% of digestion happens within your mouth by chewing every bite of your food atleast 26-32 times.
This change in lifestyle , showed brilliant results with increased energy with most participants in our studies, along with no lethargy during the afternoons and natural deep and early sleeping during evenings and early waking up patterns. It also improved their ability to focus, enhanced digestion and reduction in stomach issues, and increased feeling of happiness and energy.
What are we as a species if not, quick to adapt. Adopt a new lifestyle where less is more.
Benefits of the 2 meal a day diet
1. For all working professionals especially into work from home individuals, it frees up a lot of time and space that goes in preparation and consumption of lunch
2. If planned correctly with the morning breakfast starting with huge salad bowls made from fresh fruits, cucumber and salad vegetables followed by yoghurt and breakfast such a meal can provide a powerhouse of energy lasting and sustaining us through out the day.
3. The two meals, being timed correctly coincide with the natural digestive process and ensure minimal problems related to digestion
4. The exclusion of lunch - removes mid day lethargy, laziness and a need for rest or nap
5. This also results in intermittent fasting which gives stomach a resting break , instead of keeping it active all the time. Intermittent fasting allows helps in rapid detoxing of free radicals in our body.
6. Early dinner means, our digestion is complete before we sleep that promotes better overnight sleep and a calm mind.
7. Increased stamina and energy throughout the day.
8. Better morning after feeling because of complete emptying of bowels.
9. Increased focus of mind
10. Reduction in anxiety, poor digestion, feeling of tiredness
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