Knowing how much and what kinds of food are best for each member of the family, we must next find out how to divide the total food for the day into meals. Few of us could take our required fuel in one meal, and if we could, we should probably be hungry before the time for the next meal. Some persons get along very well with two meals a day, but usually their fuel requirement is not high. Most people are more comfortable and more likely to eat a suitable amount in a deliberate fashion if they have three meals a day. When large amounts of fuel have to be taken, four or five meals may be better than three; babies who have to eat in proportion to their size, x often 2 1/2 times as much as their mothers, take 2\ times as many meals, i.e. 7 or 8 in a day.
While the number of meals depends largely on the amount to be eaten in the whole day, and the appetite of the subject, the amount at each meal is most influenced by the nature of the daily occupation. The baby with nothing to do but eat and sleep has meals uniform in kind and amount. The business man who works very hard through the middle of the day, and has not time to take an elaborate meal, nor time to rest after it so that it may digest easily, takes a light luncheon and makes up for it at breakfast and dinner. The outdoor worker who has a long hard day and expends much energy, takes an hour at noon for a substantial dinner, in addition to a hearty breakfast and supper and sometimes a mid-forenoon or mid-afternoon lunch.
More important than the number of meals is regularity as to time of eating and amount of food. Training for the digestive tract is just as important as training the eye or the hand or the brain. We cannot expect good digestions if we have a hearty luncheon to-day, none at all to-morrow, and perhaps a scanty and hasty late one the next day. To take food into the stomach between meals is to demoralize the digestive system. Foods that are excellent as part of a meal provoke headaches and bad complexions, and many symptoms of a protesting stomach, when taken between meals. The younger the person, the more important is regularity. Little children soon suffer if their meals are not "on the minute." Adults have more difficulty in controlling their time, but if they have to be late to meals, they should be more careful than usual to eat slowly and to choose plain simple food that will digest easily.
Good food may be provided at the proper time and yet the members of a family may fail to keep well and happy unless they come to meals in the right condition. Haste, chill, exhaustion, anxiety, excitement, fretfulness, or anger may interfere with the digestion of the most digestible of meals. Orderly table service, good manners, and cheerful conversation are very important factors in the success of a meal. Peace and joy as well as "calories" are watchwords of good nutrition.