A precious breakfast-for-dinner oddity that was the perfect occasional treat for American families: heaps of pancakes dipped in maple syrup and butter, an eclectic fruit salad, bacon fresh from the skillet and eggs just the way you like it, but for the night. Breakfast for dinner only WorksFinish the day by satisfying both the sweet and the savory while allowing the rest and relaxation to digest the meal afterwards. Now, imagine a world where breakfast can always be dinner.
While this proposal may sound somewhat drastic, rearranging meals to put breakfast last would not only make sense, but would also create a distinct tradition that the United States could claim its own—free of colonial roots or a problematic past. Lunch will replace breakfast as the first meal of the day, dinner will replace lunch, and breakfast will replace dinner. But let’s break it down first.
Having lunch in the morning may seem counterintuitive, but when put alongside science, it makes perfect sense. Have you ever woken up craving something sweet, like a big batch of pancakes? Chances are low. In fact, our bodies crave salty foods after we wake up because we sometimes feel dehydrated while we sleep at night, and our depleted levels of sodium—an electrolyte that helps balance fluid levels—must be replenished for proper hydration. By encouraging sodium intake, our bodies encourage us to refill both our sodium supply and our water levels. Thus, it makes sense to eat foods traditionally associated with lunch for breakfast, as they generally consist of foods with high levels of sodium. By doing so, we will satiate our natural craving for salt while re-saturating our bodies with the appropriate content of sodium it needs to function.
Moreover, the claim that the traditional breakfast is the most important meal of the day and is associated with better health outcomes has not withstood scrutiny. In fact, the initial study on which this claim is based was found to be riddled with researcher bias and improper use of informal language to describe misleading findings and citations. The study also lacked a control group. Essentially, the adage “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” with supposed health benefits is more correlation than causation, a misconception now adopted as fact by the general public. If we get rid of these lies, we can begin to properly rearrange the meals to best suit our interests.
With lunch as the first meal of the day, the traditional dinner, or the biggest meal of the day for Americans, should take its place during traditional lunchtime. This is because dietitians have actually found that eating the largest meal at night makes the metabolism of food more difficult due to disruption of the “normal and natural rhythm” of our bodies. Meanwhile, other parts of the world such as Africa, Southeast Asia and some parts of Europe and Latin America consume heavy meals in the middle of the day to refuel from their work, allowing their big lunch to burn off for the rest of the day. “In many cultures, people eat heaviest in the afternoon, and this translates to better health overall” because it is closely aligned with our natural body rhythms, explains Patrick Okolo III, chief of gastroenterology at Regional Health in Rochester. Thus, eating dinner at lunchtime will benefit our digestive systems and our overall health.
What’s more, making the traditional dinner a lunchtime phenomenon would create other great benefits. In the world of dinner as lunch, you can get dressed up to eat with your loved ones when the sun is still shining, which makes the aesthetics of the food so much better. With the rest of the day still left, people can either go back to work or school fully motivated to work the remainder of the day, or go home for a nap during the hottest time of the day, often referred to as a nap. These naps have significant health benefits, including but not limited to, reducing sleep-related debt and “boosting (boosting) your cognitive performance for up to a few hours after a nap.” Essentially, this midday dinner can aid worker efficiency while providing many other health benefits.
With lunch replaced by traditional breakfast, and with dinner replaced by traditional lunch, breakfast will thus replace the traditional dinner. Whereas I once dreaded breakfast—a binge-rich, carbohydrate-rich meal that would sit unacceptably in my stomach, digesting at a glacial pace—breakfast for dinner would bring back the magic surrounding the meal. Breakfast for dinner would essentially render dessert obsolete due to the sweet contents of breakfast, satisfying our sweet tooth while preventing us from consuming more carbs or sugar afterwards. Moreover, the malaise or drowsiness that usually occurs after a meal rich in sugar and carbohydrates can be relieved by sleep that will soon follow the meal. Breakfast allows dinner the flexibility of quick and easy meals, like a bowl of your favorite cereal, or elaborate meals that take longer to prepare, like a full breakfast feast. On top of all these benefits, breakfast ingredients are usually more on hand than dinner, allowing for large portions of the food that dinner often requires without breaking the bank.
Rearranging breakfast to replace traditional dinner, as well as making lunch replace traditional breakfast and dinner replace traditional lunch, would radically improve human health as well as improve our daily routine. With the opportunity for the United States to finally have an unproblematic cultural tradition, rearranging meals will benefit the American people cognitively and digestively. Now, these bags of buttermilk pancakes can be enjoyed with warm syrup and crunchy bacon as a fun evening meal.
Sophia Leerbaum is an opinion columnist who can be found at [email protected].