The Evolution of the Meals

The Evolution of the Meals

Do you eat three meals a day? These days, most people in the United States would say they do. But it has not always been that way. How did our three meals a day originate?

In the morning, your daily routine probably consists of waking up, getting dressed, and eating breakfast, but have you ever really thought about why we eat at this time? When you break down the word breakfast, you get the words “breaking the fast”. You are in a fast during the night, meaning you are not eating. Pretty much, people are hungry in the morning.

My favorite meal, breakfast, was not always eaten.“It was frowned upon for the Romans to eat breakfast” according to BBC News Magazine. They considered it unhealthy, which is ironic because now we consider it generally unhealthy to skip breakfast. Not many people ate breakfast in the Middle Ages because there just wasn’t much food produced, as well as during wars. The Old English word disner, meaning dinner, was used to describe the morning meal until the thirteenth century when its definition changed. In the fifteenth century “breakfast” was finally used in writing. But it wasn’t until the seventeenth century when all social classes ate breakfast. In the United States, today, we eat breakfast foods such as eggs, bacon, pancakes, and waffles, while other places may eat different foods for breakfast.

On to lunch! The actual origins of lunch are “mysterious and confusing”. People from the Roman Times to the Middle Ages always ate one meal in the middle of the day, but it was their main meal and was called dinner. This was because farmers and field workers would often be hungry by midday and take a quick break for some bread and cheese. The industrial revolution, “the transition to new manufacturing processes”, relied on a lunch break to keep factory workers sustained. Artificial light developed, which is when people started using electricity in their homes, whereas before people had to utilize the light from the sun. The meal was pushed back and back into the day (because they could stay awake longer), another reason for a light snack during the day. Lunch became part of the daily routine in the 19th century when office workers were given an hour for lunch. Today, the average lunch eating time is about 15 minutes, according to researchers at the University of Westminster.

Often the most significant meal of the day, dinner, is next. Before you had to have your mom come yell to you it was time to eat, dinner was the main meal eaten around noon during the 18th Century. Dinner moved farther and farther from noon until it became the official evening meal. BBC News Magazine states that “by the late eighteenth century, most people were eating three meals a day in towns and cities.” Today, these dinners may be casual, one course meals, or more formal three or more course meals, with appetizers, the main course, and then, the best part, dessert.

The order and names of the meals you are eating today have undergone many changes throughout the years. So the next time you eat, you should think about what time of day you are eating at, what this meal is called, and all of the history behind it!