Dinner, supper, tea, evening meal, lunch, linner, brunch, breakfast. Mealtimes are a beautiful thing, a structure and routine that orders our day and decides when our breaks between working will occur. It’s not uncommon or unusual that your life revolves around these periods of eating, but if you take a step back it’s just another social construct. I don’t mean to turn this into a reality check, but what other mammal distinguishes the quanity of food they eat in relation to an exact time period?
I have breakfast every morning, or afternoon (depending when I wake up). Regardless, breakfast will be my main aim when getting out of bed and therefore what time I eat “lunch” might be 1pm or 3pm, likewise with dinner, and you can see where the realisation that mealtimes are a weird, fictional and yet controlling force seeps in. The issue grows as I start comparing my eating habits to other mammals: I’m not a lion that has one giant meal and tries to feed its cubs, but I’m not a sheep that has an expansive plate of food literally beneath their feet. I’m a human and my body will get hungry according to my activity levels, the food I’m eating, the quantity I’m eating, my hormones (the few days of being constantly hungry have prompted google searches, I’m not kidding).
If you’re working long hours, or not able to put together a satisfactory meal in between class then the lack of food or inconvenient eating times can have detrimental effects, ever heard of “hangry”? Hangry is a portmanteau of being both angry as a result of hunger, and it’s a genuine thing! However, if you’re not in command of when you can eat there’s very little you can do to suppress this instinctual life-drive. I’m thankful that my Uni timetable isn’t too disruptive but after having a Kylie Jenner realising moment I’ve loosened the chains on my eating times. I definitely don’t snack all the time, but I can rarely finish my dinner in one sitting (much to my friend’s amusement) and regularly have to take an eternity eating. There’s the expression “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner as a pauper” which is a guide to meal sizes throughout the day, the idea being that as evening comes and your activity levels reduce before sleeping you’re in less need of energy from food. This is really my only general guideline now, and I’m coming to terms with the idea that I might just be another grazing creature that should just eat when they’re hungry, rather that waiting on the clock hand to strike a number.