It’s Totally Fine to Eat Lunch Before Noon

You can eat lunch whenever you want, you're an adult

Actually, 11 a.m. is the perfect time to enjoy a sad desk salad.
Actually, 11 a.m. is the perfect time to enjoy a sad desk salad.
Nielsen Ramon/Unsplash

Last week, The Atlantic‘s Amanda Mull broke breakfast by branching outside American society’s rigid breakfast food strictures and starting the day with a chicken parm sandwich. Now, lunch is seeing a similarly subversive call to break with tradition in the fight against early lunch shaming.

In a recent feature for Bon Appétit, Michelle Ruiz questioned the seemingly arbitrary social guideline that limits lunchtime to an afternoon-only activity even though many people are hungry for a second meal before 12 p.m.

“As 5 p.m. is to cocktails, noon is to lunch: It’s widely considered the earliest socially acceptable time to grab a slice of pizza or a sushi special, especially in traditional office environments,” wrote Ruiz, who reported regularly being ready for lunch around 11 a.m.

According to Ruiz, however, the unspoken post-noon lunch rule has more to do with workplace culture and schedules than biological needs.

“The truth is your body is trained to feel hungry three to four hours after your last meal,” explained registered dietician Brigitte Zeitlin of BZ Nutrition. “So, if breakfast was at 7 a.m., it’s normal to be hungry at 11 a.m.,” she told Ruiz.

In other words, there’s no reason you need to suppress your body’s natural hunger cycle just to accommodate workplace norms, like a number of Ruiz’s sources who reported drinking coffee or scheduling 11 a.m. meetings to avoid indulging their early lunching habits.

According to Zeitlin, it’s better to just listen to your body and “embrace the fact that your lunch is going to be earlier in the day.” Zeitlin suggested early lunchers go ahead and eat at 11, and then have an afternoon snack at 2 or 3. But if the early lunch shame is still getting to you and you’d rather get your midday-meal habits on track with the rest of your co-workers, a mid-morning snack can also help delay lunch to a more “workplace appropriate” time.

Then again, you’re an adult. You can eat lunch whenever you want.

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