What’s the most dangerous idea in the United States? And by that I mean an idea that kills the most people.
My vote for most dangerous idea is the notion of “mealtime.” When you live in a society that has two or three established mealtimes every day, you’re almost guaranteed to be overweight in adulthood. We have meal plates that are a certain size, and we expect them to be full. And worst of all, we plan our meals to be leisurely, sit-down situations. That requires enough food to keep everyone busy. And that means eating more than you need. Sometimes we even intentionally overeat because our next meal might be hours away and we don’t want to risk getting hungry before then.
Diet experts tell us that the best way to eat is by nibbling small snacks throughout the day. But society is organized to deliver food in big chunks, two or three times a day. The three-meals-per-day idea is so embedded in our social fabric that it’s hard to imagine any other way to live.
The obvious problem here is that overeating leads to all sorts of lethal and non-lethal health problems. I’ll bet the idea of mealtime has killed more Americans than all of our wars put together.
I assume the idea of mealtime made more sense in times of scarcity and communal living, and before the invention of refrigeration. And I understand the social and family benefits of coming together over food. But surely there are healthier ways to be social.
I wonder if mealtime will continue as an idea, or if it is already showing signs of disappearing. I put that question to you. How many “meals” do you eat per day?