The conventions that frame our everyday eating habits are both diverse and entrenched. Often, what we choose to eat at each mealtime is determined by what modern convention deems appropriate, so we have cornflakes for breakfast, sandwiches at lunch, meat and three veg for dinner. Whilst it’s frequently seen as the path of least resistance, it’s also a surefire way to nudge our brains and bellies onto autopilot, which is a recipe for – you guessed it – boredom!
Were just a matter of timing, this problem could be easily solved. Unfortunately, it is just one element of our personal food lens – in other words, our unique perspective on what, why, where, how and when we eat.
What: Is it healthy? Tasty? Hot or cold? Ready to eat?
Why: For energy? Comfort? Entertainment? Because others are?
Where: At home? Work? In transit? At a cafe or restaurant?
How: Alone or in a group? Indoors or out? In your hands?
When: During scheduled breaks? When you get time? If you’re hungry?
Each of these issues will have a degree of influence on our food choices. However, whilst some are obligatory (like scheduled meal breaks at work) others – such as what defines an appropriate food choice, given the time of day – deserve to be cut loose of convention!
I’m not suggesting you begin serving chocolate ice cream every day for breakfast, but imagine the possibilities greater food flexibility could provide! Here are some suggestions for stretching the boundaries at your next meal.
There’s nothing radical about these suggestions, so why not try something out of the ordinary at your next meal? Once you shrug off the assumptions surrounding when and where foods should be eaten, all that’s left is to enjoy your food!
When rethinking meal conventions, there are two key principles to follow:
Keep the size and energy density of the meal appropriate to your activity level at that time of the day, ie. breakfast is a perfect time to enjoy energy dense, nutritious foods – but at suppertime, the last thing you need is a big energy boost or sugar hit!
If you have a suggestion for how to rethink our everyday meal conventions, please share it with us in the comments below.