I don’t usually eat lunch. I eat breakfast. I eat dinner. Then I snack in between. Healthy or not, it’s my business. The snack is the most important meal of the day. In truth, I am usually either too busy or too tired to eat a noon hour meal. I’m working, getting ready for afternoon work, or recovering from morning work with a noon time nap at my desk. So many Japanese ask me, “What are you having for lunch?” “Did you have lunch?” and they are surprised when I say “Nothing,” or “I don’t eat lunch.” If they happen to see me eating a snack at lunch time after already saying that I don’t eat lunch it confuses them. They think I eat lunch despite what I say with my mouth. In addition, I believe a large lunch is downright unhealthy. It’s far too many calories at the wrong time of day.
Some Japanese schools require their foreign English teachers to eat the school lunch (“kyushoku”) with the students. It’s part of the job, and they think it’s an opportunity for cultural exposure for the children. I hate that because I think it’s positively unhealthy. What schools don’t understand is that for health reasons I want and need to control my consumption of calories, and a big mid-day meal is not good for me. So there is pressure to eat, constantly. Sometimes overbearing pressure, terrible pressure requiring mandatory eating, and if it’s terrible, then it’s terrorism as far as I am concerned.
Japan is not a super-size culture like America. Japanese aren’t nearly as fat as North Americans. But I would gain a terrible amount of weight if I ate all the calories of Japan’s three daily meals. I think the food is healthier than what Canadians eat, but …
What is most annoying is the universal pressure to eat and the unquestioned assumptions behind it that I should.