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A Nation of Weird Eaters

by Meghann on November 23, 2011

I made the mistake of shopping while hungry on Sunday and stocked our fridge with enough fruit and veggies to last the entire week, instead of just the three days we planned to be in town. Oops…

The good news is I had veggies galore to choose from for lunch and my parents’ fridge is about to get just a bit fuller when we drive over this evening.

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I couldn’t decide what I wanted to for lunch, so I made a plate with a little bit of everything.

Fresh green beans and cherry tomatoes

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Apples, carrot sicks, and peanut butter

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And left over chicken nuggets from last night’s dinner.

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The tiniest piece of no-bake pumpkin pie for dessert.

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A Nation of Weird Eaters

Yesterday Annelies tweeted this great article from USA Today on America’s evolving eating habits.

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My favorite part was the tagline:

Every company that makes or serves food in America has had to digest the same reality: We’ve become a nation of really weird eaters.

Good. I’m not alone. We’re a whole nation of weird eaters. 🙂

The article mainly focuses on new market research and how the food industry is keeping up with what America wants. i.e. we’re a nation that prefers dinner items at 8:00am, breakfast items at 5:00pm, large snacks through all hours of the day, iced coffee during the winter time (yes, please!), and 24-hr access to food period. Yep, that sounds about right.

I’m all for breakfast for dinner (more restaurants seriously need to get on the ‘breakfast served all day’ train!) – and if you’re craving a chicken salad sandwich at 8:00am, well to each their own – but what I found interesting was how only 5% of all consumers eat three square meals a day. Instead of the three squares, we’re a nation that’s constantly eating, snacking, and digesting, and the food industry is trying to keep up. Which is why they’re operating later and later hours and why menus are now stocked full of snack options.

20% of the cookies and apple pies sold at McDonald’s are served at breakfast <- that stat is crazy.

Reading the article I was eerily reminded of my own eating habits back in college. Back then my friends and I would all flock to the 24-hr Steak and Shake at 3:00am for a short stack of chocolate chip pancakes, washed down with a cookies and cream milkshake. We also ate Guthrie’s (similar to Zaxby’s) at 9:00pm as a post-dinner snack and my ‘breakfast’ would be considered more like ‘lunch’ when I rolled out of bed at 11:00am. Some days I’m not even sure I had a real lunch before I started heavily snacking around 3:00. I ate when I could and didn’t think twice about it. (I also packed on the pounds, but that’s another story all together…)

It wasn’t until after college, when I started my ‘grown- up job’ with ‘grown-up hours’ that I started to reign in my eating habits. Even then I had to force myself into the routine of having breakfast and lunch every day. However it eventually became a habit I hated to break. Even now I’m not a big fan of snacking my meals away. If it’s dinner time I’ll hold off grabbing a large snack in favor of a real meal, the same is true for lunch time.

Eating habits are a strange thing that are so personal to everyone. We’re a nation of weird eaters because weird doesn’t exist anymore when it comes to eating. Even Derek and I have varying eating habits. He’ll be hungry when I’m not and I’ll be starving when he’s full. He likes dinner at 9:00, I prefer it at 7:00. That’s just how it is.

Do you have ‘normal’ eating hours? Or are you a proud member of the nation of ‘weird eaters’?

1 Claire @ Live and Love to Eat November 23, 2011 at 2:18 pm

My eating habits revolve around my work schedule, when I hit the gym, and whether or not I’m dining in or out for the next meal. Definitely not “normal” by any means, and the blog community only increases the variety of “weird” foods I eat!
Claire @ Live and Love to Eat recently posted..WIAW – Five Star Italian Breakfast

2 Mary @ food and fun on the run November 23, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I’m definitely a weird eater! I eat breakfast for dinner a lot! However, I think its because its so easy and inexpensive all at the same time! And I tend to eat very healthy for breakfast most of the time, so I don’t mind if it carries over in to dinner time 🙂
Mary @ food and fun on the run recently posted..THE Plan and All My Thanks

3 Heather November 23, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I think my eating habits are fairly “normal”. I eat breakfast about 9, a snack at 10:30, lunch around Noon, another snack about 3, and then dinner between 6-7, sometimes with a little something sweet afterwards. This may make me sound like an old lady, but if I eat really late I get bad heartburn and have really wacky dreams, so I try to stick to the same eating schedule.

4 Laura November 23, 2011 at 2:30 pm

I don’t think we need 3 squares a day, or that breakfast foods can only be eaten at breakfast hours. The problem is that types of food that people are choosing to eat. I snack all day, but its on veggies and nuts. (Seriously, I keep a bag of baby carrots on my desk just for when I get the munchies.) If all people are choosing to eat is highly processed crap, then we have problems. Nothing wrong with a salad for breakfast or an omelette for dinner.
Laura recently posted..The Runner’s Christmas List

5 Meghann November 23, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Totally agree. It’s the all hours of processed food that isn’t good. I love breakfast for dinner (though I’m not sure I could ever eat a salad for breakfast) and don’t find that strange at all. I just think it’s funny that the ‘traditional’ normal of eating food isn’t normal anymore.

6 Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife November 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm

I make ‘weird’ combos (like jam and eggs) but I don’t think I am weird eater. I eat b-fast foods in the morning, lunch foods at lunch, and dinner foods at dinner time. Haha.

I love tasting plates–yummy!
Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife recently posted..Walking Counts

7 allie November 23, 2011 at 2:59 pm

i eat 3 meals a day and i literally never snack. i don’t have time, and i try to eat meals that fuel me to the next. i feel so normal haha.

8 Katie @ Peace Love and Oats November 23, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I’m definitely a weird eater. I’d prefer to snack all day because I like eating lots of different things!
Katie @ Peace Love and Oats recently posted..WIAW–Crazy Schedule Style!

9 Mary @ Bites and Bliss November 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Mike and I are the same way..we basically just eat whenever we’re hungry unless we’re visiting family when which we eat when they do.
Mary @ Bites and Bliss recently posted..Fortunes and food gifts

10 Lindsey November 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I eat at the same time most days of the week and then the weekends are more random and snacky 🙂 During the week it looks like this:
7am breakfast, 10am snack 12:30pm lunch, 4pm snack, 7:30pm supper.
Lindsey recently posted..Random Facts

11 lauren November 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm

I think I’m a pretty “normal” eater if there is such a thing. During the week I usually have breakfast between 8 and 9:30, lunch at 12:30, a snack around 4pm, and dinner around 8pm. On the weekend, most of these are pushed back a bit, but I don’t usually snack.
The only meal I ever eat something “weird” (my husband’s words) is breakfast. I’ve been known to eat leftovers or a slice of pizza in the am…and this morning I had a piece of pumpkin pie with an egg – I figure it’s OK since the recipe came from Mama Pea 😉
lauren recently posted..How not to run your second long pre-training run

12 Hillary November 23, 2011 at 4:50 pm

My eating habits rival those of a senior citizen. I could eat lunch at 11 am and dinner at 5 pm every day, but I usually make myself hold out until more “acceptable” eating times!
Hillary recently posted..Suck It Up

13 Tina @ Best Body Fitness November 23, 2011 at 5:49 pm

I’m a pretty standard meal person. I usually have bfast, lunch, dinner, and one snack in the afternoon. Although I can eat bfast food any time and often will!
Tina @ Best Body Fitness recently posted..What’s New???

14 Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) November 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm

I’m a picky water so I guess I fit that category.. 😉 I def always have 3 square meals plus snacks though! I always have to have a balanced meal or I’m not satisfied.
Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) recently posted..Home sweet home

15 Courtney @ The Petite AthlEAT November 23, 2011 at 7:42 pm

I’m a wierd eater phosho! I had pumpkin protein waffles light night for dinner … this article is incredible though .. I’ reading it now … Thanks for sharing!
Courtney @ The Petite AthlEAT recently posted..400 Foot Climb, Beat That!

16 Courtney November 23, 2011 at 9:06 pm

I’m in college, so I’m DEFINITELY a weird eater! 😛
Courtney recently posted..Almost Thanksgiving!

17 Meg @ My Chocolate Covered Life November 23, 2011 at 10:12 pm

When I saw your title, I thought you meant weird food combos, like my affinity for carrots dipped in pb and cucumbers dipped in salsa. Amazing combos, if I do say so myself.

I think the article is just another way of saying we are an overweight nation. Grazing is fine if you don’t eat three large meals, but if you do, then snacking on pop tarts and steak ‘n shake is a problem. Heck even if you don’t snacking on those kinds of items is a problem. 11 percent of our population has diabetes and two thirds of Americans are overweight. Those are some scary stats. I don’ t think a euphemistic article about “weird eating” is doing our nation a service. Say it like it is.

18 Katie November 29, 2011 at 11:57 am

I definitely think I’m a “weird” eater. I have a pretty similar eating schedule most days: bowl of oatmeal in the morning, some fruit a few hours later, another hour later I have a granola bar, then a snack of veggies/hummus, sometimes eggs. Then dinner. Then dessert.

However, on the weekends my husband and I defnitely end up doing “linner” quite a bit! We’ll go for a late lunch or an early bird dinner and forgo the other meal that day and replace it with a snack.

When I went to the doctor last time, she made a comment about my figure and then asked the regular questions about what types of foods I eat/when. She told me that it was probably a really good thing that I am more of a “grazer” when it comes to food…and then said something about how humans are meant to be that way but culture kind of influences us to think we need 3 big meals. Who knows…I think it makes sense at least!
Katie recently posted..Flatout Healthy Holidays: what to do with leftovers

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