This section is from the book "Fletcherism. What It Is, Or How I Became Young At Sixty", by Horace Fletcher. Also available from Amazon: Fletcherism, What It Is, Or How I Became Young At Sixty.
I am often asked if it is true that I eat only two meals a day; that I never eat breakfast, and why I have dropped that meal.
I have two meals a day more habitually than any other number, but not with any prescribed regularity, for the reason that my activities are most irregular at times, and my appetite accommodates itself to my needs.
When I am doing work under the most favourable of conditions, one meal a day is the rhythm best appreciated by my body. But the question of "How many meals a day?" is tantamount to the inquiry as to the amount of sleep needed: it is a matter of satisfaction of the natural requirements. The harder one works, the faster one runs, etc., the more air he needs. The same applies to the need for food according to the amount of heat eliminated, and the repair material consumed. The really hardest work that anybody does is done within the body. Muscular effort in normal conditions is not so waste-provoking and exacting as getting rid of excess of food and the counteraction of worry or anger. Likewise, idleness begets uneasiness, uneasiness begets desire for something (nobody knows just what), and groping around for "Don't know what" causes the temptation to eat and drink something which the body does not need; and then the really hard work of the body begins in the attempt of Nature to get rid of the excess. Excess of water can be thrown off in perspiration with comparative ease, but with excess of food it is different. The kidneys, bacteria and fuel furnaces of the body are all over-worked to get rid of it.
When I am so busy that I have only time to replenish the real exhausted need of the body, say half an hour at most, I find one meal a day all that my appetite demands of me. This is taken after I have done my day's work of, say, eight hours of writing, or twelve or thirteen hours of bicycle riding or mountain climbing, and then I do not have appetite for more until the next day, after the work is done.
When I mention two meals as being the more habitual, it is because I am not fully, constructively active all the time now, although I am usually "snowed under" with things that I might do to advantage; and hence I conform to the social custom and sit down to table some time in the evening to be social.
The reason I have dropped the habit-hunger morning meal is because I find that it is unnatural in my case. My experience showed me that omission of the early morning meal led to desire for a lighter but more satisfactory mid-day meal, and took away the craving for the evening supper. I first came to this realisation during excessive hot weather and monotonously trying environment. The only time I could write comfortably was before sun-up in the morning. Absorbed in my writing I did not realise the growing heat of the day until I actually began to rain perspiration, by which time it was nearly noon. Then came the mid-day meal of breakfast selection with salad and fruit preponderating. The best of feelings followed, the waist-line shrank, and one meal satisfied.
In order to try the urgency of any habit appetite - the early morning meal, for instance - take a drink of water instead, and note if that does not suffice as well as food to allay the craving for "something." A cup of hot water, with sugar and milk to suit the taste, is amply sufficient. Water will not satisfy a real, earned appetite; but it often will effectually allay a purely habit-hunger such as that for early breakfast.
A great many women ask: "But how is it possible to follow such a haphazard way of eating in a home without upsetting the whole routine of the household, disturbing the work of the servants? You can't just have your family eating whenever they like."
My answer is this: The possible disturbance to domestic regularity and convenience, because of the difficulty of supplying different members of the family only when appetite in each case is "just good and ready," is purely imaginary. Persons of regular occupations will accommodate themselves to the ordinary rhythm of meal schedule easily and naturally, with the difference that they may occasionally skip a meal or two when the ordinary activity has been lessened.
The general experience has been, that concentration on one particular meal, either at noon or in the evening, will suit everybody, and other feedings will be "snoopings" from the larder, or taken at a restaurant in those instances where one's occupation is remote from home. The "Fletcherite" at business frequently follows the method of having nuts or plain biscuits in his desk in case he feels like taking them; and the business woman would do well to profit by his example.
The adoption of Fletcheristic simplicity leads to the solving of the eternal household problem, and under its influence it is possible for woman's work to be done sooner, giving physical relief and more time for healthful recreation.
Diminution of the demand for meat-foods has much to do with both the ease of house-work, and the modification of cost. But this is not the most important saving. The saving of liability to intestinal toxication (poisoning) is the great economy of the method.