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It’s 5 PM! Do you know where your pots are?

October 18, 2009

A friend of mine recently shared her troubles with the dinner hour. She is not alone. Getting dinner to the table, while ensuring kids don’t eat each other alive can be quite a challenge, especially after a long day.

Believe it or not, there is a better way.

Have you ever considered the wisdom of stuffing our bodies with the heaviest meal of the day just as we are about to doze off?  It wasn’t always that way. Until about 150 years ago, people ate “dinner” at midday. But as factory (and office) workers started working far from home, dinner shifted to evening hours and the midday meal took form of a light packable lunch. The old way is still widespread in many places around the world.

Recent lifestyle changes have made midday “dinner” feasible for many families. Stay-at-home parents, freelancers, telecommuters, and part-time workers may find many benefits in switching the meals around. This one lifestyle change may enable you to save money, reduce stress, and even lose weight.

For most people, noon is a much saner hour than 5 PM. If at least some of your family members are home in the early afternoon, consider serving the main meal at that time.  This way, you will not have to cook while juggling a dozen other chores and listening to “M-o-o-o-m, we are H-U-N-G-R-E-Y!” in the background. Save several servings for whoever will come home at night. Your family can enjoy a cozy meal without everyone eating the same food.

The body’s metabolism is much higher at midday than at night. At 1 PM, there is still have half a day ahead of you and your body needs the calories to get you through it. Sandwich and fruit are just not enough to stave off hunger till dinner, so many people find themselves craving for snacks.

By the time we get to the dinner table at 5 or 6 PM, the metabolism is getting ready for bed (just as we are). With no chance for activity, the calories transform into fat that stays put right where we least want it. On the other hand, eating the main meal at lunchtime will provide sufficient energy for the rest of the day and eliminate the need for snacking. If you have had difficulty loosing the extra pounds or maintaining your weight, this could just be the answer.

The switch also makes financial sense. Gone will be the days of panic-stricken dashes to the fast-food place. Less snacking will not only translate into fewer pounds, but also fewer dollars.

What will you serve at 5 PM? Your usual lunch fare. In my family,  standard dinner options include tuna, eggs, pancakes, and a large salad. Bread, cheeses, and spreads supplement the meal.

As with any lifestyle change, your family will need time to get used to the new meal order. Try switching the meals around once or twice a week and see how you like it. If everything goes smoothly, you will be able to push the “dinner hour” up to one o’clock and regain some of your sanity.

Bon appetit!

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