The chief meals of the day should be three in number, breakfast, dinner and supper. Of these the first two should be the substantial meals, while supper should consist of less stimulating material. Both on physical and moral grounds, as Dr. Clement Dukes has pointed out, it is inadvisable that the schoolboy should have a meal of stimulating and strong food a short time before going to bed. A boy should not be set to do any lessons in the morning before partaking of some food, although he may be allowed half an hour in the open air. If at least an hour is to elapse before breakfast he should have, after dressing, a breakfast cupful of hot milk and weak tea or coffee, equal parts, and a plain biscuit or piece of dry bread. A substantial breakfast should follow not more than an hour and a half after dressing. There should be no hurrying over meals, no bolting of the food, and no reading or conning of tasks, but conversation should be encouraged. Three-quarters of an hour at least are to be devoted to breakfast and the after breakfast functions, so that the brain is not taxed at all during that time. The dinner hour will usually follow four or five hours after the breakfast hour. This may-prove too long an interval without food for the youthful appetite and, if desired, a piece of bread with an apple, or some such light food, may be given at 11 a.m. The dinner should be composed of two or three courses, and one of these should consist of a good supply of meat and vegetables. The later meals of adult life, afternoon tea and dinner, are at this age to be replaced by supper, which should be taken at least two hours before going to bed. The basis of this meal should be bread and butter, with honey, syrup, or jam, and there may be given in addition an egg, or fish, or plain salad in the case of strong appetites. With three good meals in the day no boy should suffer from hunger or from failure of nutrition from lack of food. While greediness as regards food must be checked in certain cases, as it breeds physical ills if tolerated, one must not allow a healthy appetite to remain unsatisfied on the ground that moderation is a desirable virtue. At many schools in the past the rule was to allow the minimum of food compatible with health; in other words the children were kept in a state of chronic starvation. While certain strong constitutions might stand this without future ill-health accruing, in many cases the future growth and development were permanently stunted. If error there is to be, then at the growing age under discussion let the error be on the side of allowing the maximum rather than the minimum amount of food.
The value of a liberal diet during school life is strongly emphasized by Dr. Clement Dukes, who can speak with authority on the subject. The following articles of food are selected from those given by him as suitable at this age (School Diet, 1899).
Porridge. Bread. Hot rolls. Butter. Bacon, fried or boiled. Cold boiled ham. Ham or bacon and eggs. Eggs - boiled, poached, buttered or fried. Kidney and bacon. Sausages. Fresh fish, boiled, fried or pickled, such as cod, flounder, haddock, halibut, herring, salmon, smelt, sole, turbot and whiting. Cold meat or cold meat pies. Mutton chops and beef steak. Brawn. Ox-cheek jelly. Milk, tea, coffee, and cocoa.
Soups - made with ox-kidney, sheep's head, shin of beef, ox-tail, meat stock, lentil, pea, artichoke, tapioca, vegetable marrow, or tomato.
Meats - beef, roast or boiled, mutton, veal, pork, steak, haricot mutton, Irish stew, rissoles, curry, rabbit, hare, steak pudding or pie.
Vegetables - all the ordinary vegetables, boiled. Plain salad of lettuce, cucumber, radishes, tomatoes, and watercress.
Fresh fruit tarts of all kinds in season. Jam tarts and puffs. Cheese cakes. Mince pies. Apple dumplings. Baked jam or treacle roll. Baked plum pudding. Boiled suet puddings with fresh or dried fruits or jam. Baked milk puddings, such as bread and butter, rice, sago, etc. Shapes, with jam. Fruit jellies. Apple charlotte. Curds and whey. Baked apples. Stewed fruit and rice or tapioca. Pancakes. Macaroni cheese. Cheese, e.g. Cheddar, Dutch, Gruyere. Water to drink.
Eggs. Fish. Potted meat. Bread. Butter. Jam. Honey. Marmalade, Treacle. Buns. Cakes. Radishes, lettuces, watercress. Milk, tea, coffee, cocoa.
It will be admitted that the above supplies a sufficiently liberal and varied diet. It should meet all the requirements of the growing body, and even the special weakness of the schoolboy in the matter of sweet things. Although fresh fruit is not included in the above dietary it is to be regarded as an essential part of the daily diet. As regards boarding schools Dr. Clement Dukes says that fresh fruits, cooked or uncooked, might be provided more frequently than they are as an article of school diet. The nutritive value of fresh fruit is not great but the carbo-hydrate matter which chiefly abounds is in a form which appeals to the youthful palate. If fruit were more regularly given to boys there would be less trouble from the consumption of the more injurious articles of the tuck shop. The action of fresh fruit on the bowels and on the blood renders this food material specially suitable for growing boys.