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Meals and the Two-Meal Plan

Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Preventive Medicine

MOST EAT THE WRONG TWO

Most of those living in the "developed countries" eat but two meals a day, but they eat the wrong two - usually a hasty lunch and a large dinner in the evening. The most ideal meal pattern is the major meal in the morning at breakfast time, another major meal in the early or mid afternoon, and no supper other than some herbal tea. This plan can be recommended not only for desk workers, patients, and housewives, but also for laboring men, and even for children, the pattern being adopted from the ages of one to three years. (RH 4-14-1868) Because physiologic processes work best under this plan, it is ideal for many to adopt the two-meal plan except for infants, a few very aged persons, and those who have a gastrointestinal disease necessitating more frequent meals. Five hours should elapse between the close of one meal and the beginning of another. Crowding the meals together overtaxes the digestive process. (CD 173-4)

SLOW START, BENEFICIAL FINISH

Those who make the change from three meals a day will probably be troubled at first with some degree of faintness about the time the third meal had normally been eaten; but if they persevere for a short time, this faintness will disappear. Do not yield the point, but drink some water and put the mind on something else. The autumn days are the easiest season of the year to make a change because of the shorter days. Lunch can be a little later, and the third meal will not be felt necessary. While the change is being made, try to have the work of the afternoon a little lighter than usual until the habit is formed. The difficulties encountered in making the change are certainly worth the effort because of the advantages gained for the body. And if you have children who are finicky eaters, the two-meal plan will just about guarantee they have a good appetite for breakfast as well as dinner (lunch). Also, nutrients can be better absorbed after a period of fasting. (Ref. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 88(8):1784-1788; 1980.)

DIGESTION TAKES ENERGY

While energy is produced from food, it is also true that much energy is required to digest food. If one should find oneself constantly tired, it may be that too much food is being consumed. Overeating may also be caused by not chewing the food well enough. It should he chewed to a cream before it is swallowed.

If one eats very rapidly, before the stomach can expand with additional digestive juices, and before the appetite can be satisfied with the presence of food in the month, the person has already overfilled the stomach. The benefit and the enjoyment from food depends more on the length of time the food spends in the month, than on the quantity eaten.

A CURE FOR IRRITABILITY

Two meals a day are a remedy for irritability. Most persons who suffer from irritability and short patience find themselves more calm when they adopt the two meal plan. But as food for many is a touchy subject, no person should be forced to discard the third meal. He or she should be taught the advantages and left to decide without pressure. To take the third meal from them is to invite irritability; for them to gain victory over the third meal is to avoid irritability.

PROVEN TO LESSEN CANCER, ETC.

Research presented at the World Council Congress in Sydney, April 16, 1994, showed that if persons confine their eating to a 6 hour period and fast the other 18 hours, this could reduce one's risk of cancer. It was suggested that people eat two meals within the six hour period from about 7:00 a.m. to 12:45. Experiments done on mice showed 93 percent fewer cancers in those on two meals a day than in those eating any time they wished. Apparently the reason for being protected from cancer is an increase in natural levels of corticosteroids which have a very powerful anti-inflammatory effect. It is well known that chronic inflammation is a recognized risk factor for cancer. A group of students who were put on this regimen showed increased levels of corticosteroids in saliva.

Another study showed that pain in the skeleton could be reduced by using the diet pattern the Australians recommended. One woman who adopted this plan was 60 years old but felt she must be over 70 because of aches and pains, and difficulty walking. Upon adopting the plan she began to feel much more her own age. Not only was the risk of cancer reduced in the Australian research, but also asthma, arthritis, and many allergies.

LOSE WEIGHT, THINK STRAIGHT

Because of the fewer calories in a two-meal plan, weight is much easier to control. Most people who give it a trial find that it is less difficult to reduce one's weight using a two-meal plan. When one adopts the two meal plan it is not necessary to increase the quantity eaten in each meal to equal the total quantity that would have been eaten in three meals. One study showed that if one has a very large lunch, more errors were experienced in the afternoon in one's workplace than if one takes a normal size lunch. (Ref. "Influences of Meal Size on Post-lunch Changes in Performance Efficiency, Mood, and Cardiovascular Function." Appetite. 16:85-91:1991)

Refusing to eat between meals has advantages in better digestion. Even a little peanut nibbling can delay digestion to the point that 11 hours after breakfast there is still residue from breakfast left in the stomach.

DON'T HESITATE, MASTICATE

Thorough mastication of food is necessary in order that we obtain the most benefit from food. A study reported in 1980 showed that fat absorption from nuts was greatly increased by thorough chewing and small bites. Peanuts, nuts, seeds, and other foods can lose important nutrients which should be available to the body, simply by failing to chew properly. Upton Sinclair's suggestion that "nature will castigate those who don't masticate" is certainly true. (Ref. Medical Intelligence 303(16):917: Oct. 16, 1980.)

Thorough chewing has yet another advantage - protection of the stomach lining. A well-chewed meal stimulates as much acid production as a poorly chewed meal, but the well-chewed meal stimulates significantly greater buffering activity. Thorough chewing may play a part in protecting people from developing peptic ulcers. (Ref. Post Graduate Medical Journal 60:272-4: April 1984.)

EAT LESS, LIVE MORE

No single factor has been proven to increase life span so thoroughly as that of eating fewer calories. A large study done at the National Institutes of Health showed that reducing calories by 30% lowered blood cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart disease. If the calories were reduced even further there was a reduction also in cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. British studies as well as studied done at the University of Maryland and the University of Wisconsin had similar findings. The British studies done on rats showed that a severely restricted calorie intake enabled rats to live 50% longer. (Ref. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, May 1996.)

Being very regular on meal schedule will increase the general metabolic control of the body. Body weight, blood sugar, and free fatty acid levels in the blood show a more favorable metabolic pattern when the meal schedule is regular. (Ref. Physiology and Behavior 46:109-113; 1989.)

LESS VARIETY, LESS GASTROCONFUSION

The fewer different kinds of foods taken at a meal, the better it is for the absorption of various nutrients. A study done in Great Britain showed that structurally similar nutrients compete with each other when there is an excessive number of nutrients traveling along the intestinal tract. It is wisest to restrict the number of dishes to two or three at a meal for the best nutrition as well as the best functioning of brain and metabolism. (Ref. Nutrition Abstracts and Reviews-Series A; 50 (5):319; May 1980.)

SAVE TIME, MONEY, ENERGY

If these advantages were not sufficient cause to make the change to the two-meal plan, there is the saving in both time and money. You effectively add at least one more useful hour to your day by saving the time used to plan, purchase, prepare, eat, and clean up after the third meal. You will not, in fact you should not, try to eat as much food in two meals as you would have eaten in three, thus saving money. In our family we reduced our food bill to 60% of what it had been when we adopted the two-meal pattern.

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