Monday, May 20, 2013

Daylight Chow

Photo courtesy Flickr

There was a minor news buzz a couple of weeks ago about eating one’s main meal at noon. Doing so is supposed to be a good way to maintain stable weight and keep energy levels in the right place during the work day.

The story brought up remembered flakes of reading, personal experience, and family oral tradition. As late as the Eighties, I recall, it was southern Italian custom to go home at mid-day for a substantial meal. Reading in the history of the English stately home left me aware that lunch used to be the main meal. “Dinner” shifted toward sundown as artificial lighting became more effective, presumably from whale oil and then kerosene as the whale supply shrank. Now and then my grandmother, who was born in a homestead log cabin, would present a major Sabbath or holiday feast in the early afternoon.

I’ve lived my share of months off-grid, and starting dinner over the wood fire that’s heating dishwater after breakfast makes perfect sense. Chow down at twelve after the first six hours of the work day, and eat up the leftovers in the long shadows of afternoon.

That’s a calming timetable, I find, and it’s not hard to replicate with the slow-cooking program of an electronic pressure cooker. I tried eating my main meal at noon, and it felt great. Unfortunately, I also ate another main meal at the habitual time later in the day and rediscovered how efficiently my metabolism stores extra calories. It has taken a couple of weeks to shift to the new eating pattern: the evening plate needs little more than a lettuce leaf and a couple of dried banana slices to carry me through the night.

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