BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - At 10:49 a.m. at Governor Livingston High School, the bell rings and it’s time for lunch (unless you have lab). From 10:49 to 11:49, students have the time to eat, talk with teachers, and do anything else that’s needed. But if many students are hungry later in the school-day, or go home after school and find themselves craving a meal, the question is why?
While there is very little research as to when the perfect time for a student to eat lunch is, there are certain factors to be considered. Most students eat breakfast around 6:40 a.m., come to school, and then eat lunch less than four hours later. Scientists warn that if we eat our meals too close together we will go into a “fed state”, in which the body doesn’t have enough time to digest food properly, and we get trapped in a state of non-stop digestion (“The Fed and Fasting States”). Studies show that we should eat our main meals about four and a half to five hours apart (“Why It Matters When You Eat”). This guarantees that we won't go into fed state and that we can properly digest our food into the most energy possible.
Many Governor Livingston students think they are eating lunch too early. GL Principal Mr. Robert Nixon, however, has a different perspective. He explained by saying that we have lunch in the exact middle of the day, as there are three blocks in the morning and three more in the afternoon.
But if a student plays a sport, he or she won’t be eating for a while after school. To make matters worse, about half of polled GL students who play sports after school admit to eating junk food every day to get through practice.
When asked how this situation may be changed aside from the option of moving GL’s lunchtime, Nixon stated, “Students need some help being educated on making healthy choices for themselves”. He added, “A whole school campaign would be a great idea”, and mentioned the possibility of GL’s Project Connect running a future campaign on nutrition. He also added, “there is a nice assortment of fruit and healthy options [in the cafeteria] as well.” Nixon drew a parallel between the needs of students and that of a car, stating that like a car, if students put good things in their bodies they will operate better.
GL students have differing opinions on lunch-time. Some of them thought that they weren't eating too early even though most played sports after school. Sasha Rtishchev said that if we were to change the time it would be more negative towards students because they would “get hungry if they were to eat earlier”. This means because most kids don’t eat breakfast they would be waiting too long to eat. These answers could suggest that these students are maybe eating better and more filling meals than their hungry peers.
So are we eating too early? The answer: Not really. But without the possibility of lunch-time being changed on the horizon, it is important for students who might be experiencing an empty stomach by the end of the day to take action. Remember to bring or purchase food that is good for you. Student-athletes or anyone with an extracurricular activity after school should bring a healthy snack in order to give the best performance possible. Finally, take your time while eating and try to eat three meals every day.
Editor's Note: The Highlander section features articles written for The Highlander, Gov. Livingston High School's student newspaper.
Jenny Craig, Elisa. “Why It Matters When You Eat.” Weight Loss Forums & Community | Jenny Craig, 2018, www.community.jennycraig.com/perfect-portion-blog/eat-well/why-it-matters-when-you-eat/.
“The Fed and Fasting States.” Hepatitis C :: The Facts : The Liver - The Fed and Fasting States, 2018, www.epidemic.org/theFacts/theLiver/fedAndFasting/.