Is lunch the most important meal of the day?

Breakfast vs Lunch vs Dinner – Which is the most essential of them all?

How many stories have you read about breakfast being the most important meal of the day? One every day, I am sure. I have written plenty about it too: how it is the most important meal of the day, why missing it is means messing with your health etc etc. But that’s enough education about the first meal of the day, now it’s time to talk about lunch – a meal that comes plonk in the middle of our working days so more often than not gets either skipped or eaten hurriedly. We are all guilty of not putting in enough thought into this equally important meal. Time to change that!

First of all, please understand that lunch is indispensable at work. Long hours without food translates into no energy to function and the work efficiency falls down. Plus it doesn’t help at all if you are looking to cut calories this way as skipping this meal will only lead to low blood sugar, which will sooner or later lead to uncontrollable binging and/or food cravings.

Ayurveda any ways has always considered lunch to be the most important meal of the day, and advices that it should be the heavier meal compared to dinner. This counsel is totally in tune with the natural rhythms of digestion in the body. Noon is the time when our digestion is at its optimum best, so logically too our main meal should be in the afternoon. What this means is that lunch should be a complete meal with properly cooked, tasty food, eaten sitting down in a relaxed environment; and not a lets-just-grab-a-cold sandwich-(if at all)-and-eat-it sitting at the work desk, looking at the comp.

One suggestion I have here is to start an office lunch group. During lunch hour, go to the pantry or a meeting room to eat your lunches together. It’ll nix the temptation to munch mindlessly sitting at your desk (and to skip too). Plus, it‘ll motivate you to pack/order-in a decent lunch (instead of chips and cola/coffee).

So what should one eat? The plate should have some vegetables, some grains, and a good quality protein source like lentils, fish, tofu or paneer. Ayurveda also suggests that we should have buttermilk (and I agree) at lunchtime – it boosts good bacteria in our gut and provide some extra help for digestion. Things to avoid are refined foods, fried foods and sweets (they’ll put you to sleep instead). Trust me, a balanced meal eaten mid day can go a long way to help offset everyday stresses and the wear and tear they cause to the body. So don’t just go for whatever’s convenient, or at hand (bread pakora from the stall below the office?). Try to organize a good home-cooked style meal for lunch. It’s a jungle out there, so you need all the help possible to combat the daily warfare by eating right to maximise your energy levels, increase your efficiency to work and keep your mind super sharp.


Kavita Devgan is a Nutritionist, Weight Management Consultant and Health Writer based in Delhi. She will be contributing to the column Kavita’s Korner every Wednesday for this blog.

Follow her on Twitter here: @kavitadevgan

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