A study that appears in the March 2006(forthcoming) issue of the Journal of Consumer Research studied the eating patterns and habits of people revealed that eating habits are made different.
The main researchers were Adwait Khare (University of Houston) and J. Jeffrey Inman (University of Pittsburgh). They identified two ways of characterizing eating habits. The term used to describe them are "carryover habit" and "baseline habit."
The main point with carryover habit is that meal decisions affected by previous meals. Breakfast has the strongest "carryover effect," possibly because there is less time to decide what to eat for breakfast and the most consistent environment for this meal.
Since we tend to eat more "good" nutrients, like calcium, at breakfast and more "bad" nutrients, like saturated fat, at dinner, this carryover might actually be beneficial. On examining amount of each nutrient that tended to be consumed at each meal a finding was made that people with a "baseline habit" consistently varied how much of each nutrient they ate according to what meal it was.
According to the authors, "Daily meals are associated with different food values."
Their findings have important implications for nutritional guidelines and meal planning as instead of providing daily nutritional goals, we might want to embrace multi-day nutritional goals, taking into account how one day's meals affect the next day's meals.
Therefore it is very important to tackle every meal independently and act that way.