The ingredients that are used are not the only thing that Chileans do differently when it comes to food. In Chile, meal times are styled in more of a classic European schedule. You have a light breakfast, big lunch, and light dinner. They are called desayuno, almuerzo, and once respectively.

Yes, once is the same word as the Spanish word for 11, however it does not mean that the meal occurs at 11pm. It is just what they call it here.

Desayuno — eaten between 8 am and 10am, generally consists of some bread with butter, jam, or cheese; or something along the lines of yogurt or cereal. This is the lightest meal of the day.

Almuerzo — eaten between 1 pm and  4 pm, it is a heavier meal that usually consists of three courses, sometimes four. First you have soup, then you have the real food, then you have salad, then you have dessert. The soup part is the one that varies depending on the season you’re in. The colder it gets, the more often soup becomes a necessary dish. Dessert usually consists of fruit or something else sweet and tea or coffee.

Once — This meal varies from day to day. Most of the time, it is eaten around 8pm and consists of the same sort of food as desayuno. Bread, butter, avocado, tea, coffee, etc. Here, rather than saying “cena” for a real dinner, they call it “comida,” which normally happens only on special occasions. I get hungrier at nighttime, so I eat a little leftover lunch for once or eat a snack afterwards.

Snacking doesn’t occur as often either. Usually, people eat three meals and then they are done for the day. Some people even will skip once if they ate a lot for almuerzo.

How has going from an American to a Chilean diet affected me? Personally, between the difference in ingredients and the times at which we eat, I have lost weight: around 12 pounds (5.5 kilos). I still eat more than the average chilean too, I eat the three meals plus a snack in between almuerzo and once and a snack just before bedtime. I have been trying to change my eating habits back to the chilean schedule after being in the US for a year, and for the most part I have been successful.

With all the mayo and carbs, how is weight loss possible you ask? Fresh ingredients, I believe, are all the difference. I rarely eat packaged or processed food now. I also don’t snack nearly as much as I used to and have chosen to eat an apple or yogurt in place of something unhealthy when I do get a craving. We also don’t go out to eat very often because we eat with the family at home rather than going out and spending unnecessary money.

I like the Chilean schedule for meals much better than the American schedule. You get up, eat just enough to hold you over for lunch, and after lunch you still have half of the day to work it off. Then, you have a little something before bed to get you through the night. It is healthier. Unfortunately, the American way makes it difficult to change to such a schedule, but if you can manage it, I highly recommend it.

I wasn’t quite sure what picture to put in this post, so I will leave you with a picture of just a small portion of my Chilean family. Click on the photo to enlarge it:

September 18, 2011 -- Chile's Independence Day
September 18, 2011 — Chile’s Independence Day

This is not even half of the family. You see why I say I have no problem with worrying about whether my food will get eaten?

Next week, I’ll be writing some spotlights on some delicious dishes that you won’t want to miss out on. Until then, have a wonderful weekend no matter where in the world you are!

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