The Order of a Meal

I can’t recall how I wound up in the website of the Philippine Rice Research Institute.

That’s what web-surfing does to us: you click on one subject, and pretty soon you’re led on a train of related subjects.  This can be a great advantage because one’s interest is sustained by the availability of related materials on a subject.  On the other hand, one can get “lost” in the worldwideweb (www, remember?) and forget the original specific topic of one’s surfing activity on the internet.

Anyways… A feature story posted during the first week of 2017 — in time for New Year resolutions — presented some eyebrow-raising ideas on how to eat a proper meal.  Tapping the expertise of nutritional oncologist Dr. Romulo de Villa, the article contradicts some of our long-held notions about eating.

The most controversial meal suggestion by the doctor is for people to eat fruits first, vegetables second, and proteins and carbohydrates last. The reasoning is that the fiber in fruits and vegetables facilitate digestion and help to make the diner feel full more quickly.  This is like the wisecrack, “Life is short; eat dessert first.”

The doctor is further quoted, thus, “What you eat first, you eat more; what you eat last, you eat less.” He added that a healthy plate consists of the following:
* two parts fruit,
* three parts vegetables,
* two parts protein, and
* one part carbohydrates.

Therefore, if rice is your carbohydrate for a certain meal, it shouldn’t be the highest volume on your plate.  On the contrary, it should be the smallest portion; “equal to the amount that would fill you close-cupped hand,” said the doctor.  It should never be as big as the size of your fist, he added.

A second controversial idea presented by Dr. de Villa concerns the timing of meals.  He recommends that meals be five hours apart.  Eat more often than that, you will tend to overeat.  Let more than five hours pass between meals, you will tend to go hungry.

Well, what do you think?

Our culture features rice as the bulk of all major meals, including most peoples’ breakfasts.  On top of that, many of our desserts are also fashioned from rice, whether whole grains or pulverized; just call to mind our many types of puto.

Our typical days are marked by breakfast, merienda, lunch, merienda, and dinner.  When we are up late, there might even be a late night merienda.

I see the wisdom in the good doctor’s suggestions.  In fact, there is irony in the fact that our tropical country is blessed with so much fruit, yet people tend to consume more cooked food than fresh produce.  The Thai and Vietnamese are ahead of us in including fresh produce — including sprigs of herbs — in the typical meal service.


To read the full article “New Year, New Eating Habits” click below:


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