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The Paleo approach to meal frequency

Posted Nov 23 2009 10:00pm
Furthering our discussion of postprandial (after-eating) phenomenona, including chylomicron and triglyceride "stacking" ( Grazing is for cattle and Triglyceride and chylomicron stacking ), here's a comment from the recent Palet Diet Newsletter on the closely related issue, meal timing and frequency:

We are currently in the process of compiling meal times and patterns in the worlds historically studied hunter-gatherers. If any single picture is beginning to emerge, it clearly is not three meals per day plus snacking ala the typical U.S. grazing pattern. Here are a few examples:

--The Ingalik Hunter Gatherers of Interior Alaska: 'As has been made clear, the principal meal and sometimes the only one of the day is eaten in the evening.'
--The Guayaki (Ache) Hunter Gatherers of Paraguay: 'It seems, however, that the evening meal is the most consistent of the day. This is understandable, since the day is generally spent hunting for food that will be eaten in the evening."
--The Kung Hunter Gatherers of Botswana. "Members move out of camp each day individually or in small groups to work through the surrounding range and return in the evening to pool the collected resources for the evening meal."
--Hawaiians, Tahitians, Fijians and other Oceanic peoples (pre-westernization). 'Typically, meals, as defined by Westerners, were consumed once or twice a day. . . Oliver (1989) described the main meal, usually freshly cooked, as generally eaten in the late afternoon after the day’s work was over."

The most consistent daily eating pattern that is beginning to emerge from the ethnographic literature in hunter-gatherers is that of a large single meal which was consumed in the late afternoon or evening. A midday meal or lunch was rarely or never consumed and a small breakfast (consisting of the remainders of the previous evening meal) was sometimes eaten. Some snacking may have occurred during daily gathering, however the bulk of the daily calories were taken in the late afternoon or evening. This pattern of eating could be described as intermittent fasting relative to the typical Western pattern, particularly when daily gathering or hunting were unsuccessful or marginal. There is wisdom in the ways of our hunter gatherer ancestors, and perhaps it is time to re-think three squares a day.

In other words, the notion of "grazing," or eating small meals or snacks throughout the day, is an unnatural situation. It is directly contrary to the evolutionarily more appropriate large meal followed by periods of no eating or small occasional meals.

I stress this point because I see that the notion of grazing has seized hold of many people's thinking. In my view, grazing is a destructive practice that is self-indulgent, unnecessary, and simply fulfills the perverse non-stop hunger impulse fueled by modern carbohydrate foods.

Eliminate wheat, cornstarch, and sugars and you will find that grazing is a repulsive impulse that equates with gorging.

The full-text of the Paleo Diet Newsletter can be obtained through You can also read and/or subscribe to the new Paleo Diet Blog, just launched in November, 2009.
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