New studies recommend timing meals mindfully to stay healthier.
Research suggests we take time to have a closer look at when we are eating our biggest meals. Chrononutrition is a field of science which studies how calorie timing affects our health. We can use the findings from this field of study to help us know the best times to eat for better health.
Timing your meals doesn’t mean we need to stop eating entirely at certain times, but eating the bulk of daily calories earlier in the day and eating regular meals may help us become healthier than skipping meals.
A group of researchers from King’s College released two studies indicating a link between the times we eat and overall health. The researchers related health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity to irregular eating patterns. The findings implore us to tune back to when we need food, not when it’s time to eat.
The chrononutrition studies looked at population data showing people who weighed less eating more during breakfast more than any other time of the day. These studies suggest we shouldn’t miss breakfast because it’s important for our health. In fact, breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day, while dinner should be the smallest. Unfortunately, many of us don’t get to eat this way naturally.
Society forces us to follow a “social clock” instead of following our natural circadian rhythm. This social clock can override our body clocks and harm our health, especially for those who work the overnight shifts. Exhaustion, weight gain, and health complications are resulting side effects from messed up body clocks. Another study from King’s College suggests greater risk of health problems like cardiovascular disease and cancer for shift workers.
When we can’t control our schedules, we don’t give what our bodies need. “Social jetlag” is another typical example of shifted eating patterns. When we rush in the morning, skip breakfast, eat quick lunch, and go out with friends at night to have dinner, we create irregular eating patterns which mess with our internal clocks. These irregular eating patterns change how our bodies metabolize fat, sugar, and cholesterol, and lead to making bad food choices. In turn, skipping breakfast makes us more likely to go for greasy food and sugary dessert.
How do we improve eating times?
Based on the data collected, the researchers recommend eating a huge meal for breakfast, a smaller meal for lunch, and the smallest meal for dinner. Bring healthy snacks like nuts, greens, and oats to avoid skipping meals because missed meals lead to bad food choices and mess with your metabolism. Lastly, develop healthy eating habits by finding a group that eats together regularly.
There’s a famous saying “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper,” which embodies how we should plan our meals every day.
Caring for your body doesn’t end with healthy food, but it entails healthy timing.
Remember… Never skip meals if you want to be healthy!
Aimee Harris-Newon, Psy.D., D.A.B.P.S., C.Ht