The Right Time to Eat


The author of an 1841 cookbook, Sarah Josepha Hale, advised her readers about eating hours. Those on a regular schedule should eat at a set time; those living on irregular schedules should eat when they get hungry.

Laborers need larger meals more often than idle or inactive people.
analog-clock-1295631_960_720Eat meals about five hours apart; active people require food more often.

Young people experiencing growth spurts eat often.

Feed children under seven every three hours. Hale recommended a slice of bread as a healthy lunch.

baby-472922_960_720Don’t set an eating schedule for infants for the first few months because their constitutions vary. Feed the baby when hungry.

Don’t exercise before breakfast if you tend to become sick easily (delicate constitution.)

Never enter the sick room of someone ill with fever before eating breakfast or at least drinking coffee.

Planning an early morning departure? Make sure to eat a light breakfast as protection against weariness and cold.

Don’t eat a big supper right before going to bed.

It’s harmful to eat when overheated or exhausted. Rest about fifteen minutes before dining.

Much of this “1841” advice still rings true today.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Hale, Sarah Josepha. Early American Cookery: “The Good Housekeeper.” 1841, Dover Publications , Inc., 1996.