The traditional British breakfast is a cooked meal of bacon, eggs and sausages, preceded by cereal or fruit and followed by toast. Nowadays this large meal is served mainly in hotels and is very popular with foreign visitors. Britons may eat this big breakfast at weekends or on special occasions but they prefer a smaller, healthier meal to start a normal day.
Lunch is a light meal and is eaten at school or work at about 1 pm. Lunch takes 30—40 minutes. Some offices have installed a microwave oven for employees to use. Popular lunches are: a salad or a sandwich; a baked potato; beans on toast.
Snacks are very popular in Britain, and many people frequently eat snacks between meals. Schools may also sell snacks, such as crisps, chocolate, sweets and biscuits. Instant snacks are the fastest- growing sector of the food market.
Dinner is usually the main meal of the day and consists of two courses — meat or fish and vegetables followed by a dessert or pudding. Convenience and frozen foods are especially popular. Convenience meals are already cooked — all you have to do is to heat them up in a microwave. Most supermarkets sell a range of pre-packed meals to be heated in a microwave.
Takeaways became extremely popular in the 1980s. The traditional British takeaway is fish and chips eaten with salt and vinegar. Some fish and chips shops still wrap your meal in newspaper, others use special bags to keep it warm. Some give you a plastic fork. Most towns and cities now offer a wide range of takeaway meals, from American-style hamburgers to Turkish kebabs. Many families prefer to eat takeaway food for dinner instead of cooking.
The British are famous for their love of sweet things, and afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones, jam and several different kinds of cake was once a traditional custom. Like the English cooked breakfast, it is now more often found in teashops and hotels than in private homes, and you can buy special guidebooks to tell you where the best afternoon teas are served. Most working people do not have teas as an afternoon "meal", but they do have a short break in the middle of the afternoon for a cup of tea. Tea is often drunk with lunch and dinner.
Since the 1970s eating habits in Britain have undergone a change. People started to eat less fat and more fibre. Fat is believed to be one of the major causes of obesity and heart disease. Forty per cent of adults in Britain are overweight. High-fibre foods and low-fat foods can now be found in all shops and supermarkets.
The British have also started to count calories. They try to take in fewer calories and to follow a calorie-controlled diet. One of the fastest-growing sectors ofthe food market in Britain is slimming foods.