3 squares a day.
What has been pressed into our minds is the notion that we need three square meals a day. So that got me wondering. Why do we need three square meals a day? and where did that come from? Generally speaking, the term is thought to come from the 1970’s in a time when the navy served their meals on square plates. It was thought to be a military term. The truth is the term actually came from the 1800’s with the word ‘square’ actually meaning proper. Three proper meals a day. With the end of World War 1 the government in the USA wanted to promote “good nutrition” so they picked up on this term in order to promote good eating. In 1910 the corn flake was created and so the government did a big propaganda push to promote breakfast cereals in order to support American farmers. With the advent of farming, ‘early to bed and early to rise’, became the mantra. Farmers rose with the sun and so food consumption was based upon daylight hours. With the advent of electricity and corn flakes, machinery, and industry, the notion of only eating during daylight hours started to change.
So the idea of three square meals is actually based on American culture. So lets compare American culture to Roman culture. Roman culture dictates that people eat once a day; during lunch. One big meal a day. The thought was that if anyone eats outside of this period of time that they are glutinous.
So basically, three square meals a day is based in a time when North American farmers worked really hard because they had to do everything by hand. In a time when there was no machinery, there was the horse and plough, they milked cows by hand, and they used a huge amount of energy to do so.
Dr. Laurie recounts her husbands uncle, who ate three square meals a day consisting of roast beef, mashed potatoes, and pie. Because his daily activity was based on only eating during daylight hours and being out on the land everyday. That’s the amount of energy he needed in order to maintain his thin physique.
Times have changed since then. We stay up till all hours, food is plentiful, as well as processed, and we are sedentary; compared to having to plough a field. So basically food intake is based on cultural norms and our cultural norm became the corn flake.
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