When you Google “healthier ways to eat,” millions of websites immediately bring up search results for all kinds of diets and exercises to lose weight. Among the many tips, a common but rather unused method to eat is spreading meals throughout the entire day.
For hundreds of years, humans have been rather rigid about their eating schedule: three meals a day—breakfast in the morning, lunch around noon, and dinner in the evening. There is not actually any biological need to eat at these times, but instead the meal pattern is a social construct that has diffused globally. People are comfortable knowing that their food will come at the same time every day and adopt a routine, as humans do.
At Leesville, the school has most certainly adapted the universal eating routine. Breakfast is served to students in the morning before the school day starts. The lunch period is right around noon. The high school only further pushes this schedule onto students, but how healthy is this form of eating?
Many doctors are now telling patients that eating three large meals a day is not in fact the way to stay healthy and fit. Instead, they recommend spreading smaller snacking times throughout the day and incorporating different types of foods into the spread. While there is not a magic number, six is the average number of meals that nutritionists are recommending for people interested in staying healthy.
Why? Eating smaller meals more often increases metabolism, decreases calorie consumption, and keeps you from being hungry. These benefits are just the tip of the iceberg, as there are many positive effects from eating smaller portions throughout the day. Leesville is yet to incorporate these new health tactics although student health is among their top priorities.
Changing the schedule at school is not an easy task to do, yet introducing the idea to the community may produce a positive outcome. Sam Gasper, Leesville junior, said, “A different lunch schedule could impact my performance…Eating earlier may give me more energy for classes after.” As studies prove, the body functions at a higher level when meals are smaller and people spread out eating.
A higher performance can only be beneficial to students, as test scores and homework completion consistently increase. Students like Gasper often find that their highest amount of energy comes in fourth period, after eating lunch. When people replenish their food supply, their bodies begin to break down what they consumed, and blood sugar spikes.
After a blood sugar spike, the body experiences a “drop.” Five hours after eating, blood sugar is extremely low. Energy levels decrease and their moods deteriorate, which can have an extremely negative impact on students during the school day. By the end of fourth period, blood sugar begins to get low again, and students feel drowsy and lethargic, keeping them from completing their work to the best of their ability.
Eating throughout the day not only stabilizes blood sugar but also reduces cravings. When humans eat three large meals a day, they tend to incorporate refined, processed foods into their diet. Sugar and carbohydrates are often the two most coveted types of goods and also happen to be unhealthy in large amounts. Continuous consumption can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes, along with many other health complications.
“I would rather give up some time in my day than contract a life-threatening disease when it comes down to it,” said Analeigh Kurelich, junior at Leesville. All students and staff may not be on board with a major change to life at school just yet, but slowly introducing the idea of eating throughout the day can do no harm.