I'm 38, and when I was a kid in school, there was no snack time, and the general belief seemed to be of 3 squares a day. I knew I was having a square meal at the school cafeteria, because the tray was square and had 4 little square sections, and in each one, was a different food item, lol. That it was a greasy starchy thing with some meat, a roll or mashed reconstituted potatoes, a scoop of canned peaches in heavy corn syrup, and a scoop of some canned vegetable or other (often not even green, but apparently canned corn counted as a vegetable!), didn't matter, it was a square meal because there were 4 different foods! But that's a different issue.
Anyway, I got an inadequate breakfast at home, usually no protein (a cold sugary poptart eaten while walking to the bus stop? And they didn't even taste good!), and then had to wait until 12:30 or 1 to eat again. The bus got us home around 4. My body did adjust to no food and no water for most of the school day, by sort of going into zombie mode. My body learned not to be thirsty at school, (but I drank to make up for it at home after, and my kidneys stayed active at night when they actually had water to work with, so I wet the bed for 2 years) and even though I would get intensely hungry at 10, it would pass, and I would feel listless and sort of fall into a stupor, and just sleepwalk through the rest of the day. When lunch rolled around, I ate mechanically, because I was no longer hungry. The food was usually high-glycemic with little to no roughage or green vegetables (which I was one of the few I knew who was used to eating and liked) and put me back on a mood and blood-sugar roller coaster, so when I got home on the bus (which had an exhaust leak and so we breathed exhaust all the way home) I was a zombie, mentally and physically.
My kids do not go to school (homeschoolers) and they eat rolled oats nearly every morning, sometimes buckwheat pancakes, while I have coffee and toast, and then make something with substantial protein. We had a 10 am snack whether home or out, and a 2 or 3 pm snack depending on whether lunch was closer to 12 or 1, and carry a tray of raw broccoli, some apples, etc for snacks while out and about, and when at home, I take the veggie tray out of the fridge for a quick and easy snack that isn't junk. I am an adult, who should be way beyond the need for snacks, by mainstream Americana's standards, yet I do better on this eating style, have more focus and energy, and don't get periodic energy brownouts the way I used to at school, once right before lunch when I went beyond hungry, and then after lunch, when the mostly-refined-carbs meal had sent my blood sugar and insulin into a tango with the inevitable low dip at the end. That pretty much meant that the only time I felt anywhere close to normal in the school day, was in the morning, on those days that I wasn't already feeling icky from only having had a cold sugary poptart and no protein, for breakfast. But I got used to that feeling being normal for me, all my childhood.
In high school, it was the worst, because I was up at 5:30 to catch a bus that came around 6, that got us to school around 7:30 because the science magnet school put in a "zero hour" as an extra class each day. But I wasn't home til 5, and kids doing athletics or band, weren't home til 7. That's as long a day as big-city office commuters put in, and then there was enough homework to keep us sedated at a desk until we dropped that night. It was a very unhealthy life for our minds and bodies. Prolonged periods of sitting, nutritional inadequacy, fasting, and inadequate sleep, on top of very important and life-affecting hormonal and brain changes, all at a time when your performance sets the tone for your adult future? On top of it, since 7th grade, there was a profitable snack bar at the school cafeteria, where you would be seen as more cool, and less dorky, if you spent your lunch money to eat one slice of greasy vegetable-less pizza, or a giant dish of ice cream, or a deep-fried burrito covered in canned chili sauce and cheese food, instead of the slightly-less-bad school lunch.
A lot of girls saw skipping lunch as a way to be thin, and in this case, it's hard to know what would pack fat on more readily: to eat that kind of food for lunch, or to starve instead, and slow the metabolism to a crawl? At any rate, it was fashionable also, for girls to just simply not eat, and it resulted in achieving some degree of thinness at the cost of balooning up the moment they did eat, and terrible states of mind and emotional volatility the rest of the time. Some of the also went to the bathroom to throw up after eating. Naturally no one ever told their parents, and that behavior was even more rampant in college, amongst females. I used to hide out in the bathrooms as a quiet place to be alone, and was the unwilling audience to many a bulimic student who didn't know I was there, which is how I know. I was shocked just how many did it, when they assumed there was no one else in there. That's a whole other topic though.
If my kids had to go to school (we homeschool), I am glad if they have snack times these days, and see that as progress. But since they would face negative social pressure if they were seen eating raw broccoli dipped in vinaigrette and liking it, when everyone else is eating teddy grahams and goldfish crackers (empty calories, either in sugary or savory form), I'm glad they don't.
Edited by crunchynerd - 9/16/11 at 6:29am