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Does It Really Matter When We Eat?

Whether or not we take good care of our bodies, most of us have a schedule we eat on. Taking topnotch care, we may ensure that we eat early in the day to replenish our bodies nutrient-wise after a long night’s sleep and keep ourselves fortified during the day to sustain our energy. If we don’t take such great care, we may grab food on the go, refrain from eating during the day, and do our heaviest eating at night. Does it matter when we eat? Scientists think so. Here are some highlights from “When we eat or don’t eat, may be critical to our health” by Anahad O’Connor (7/24/18, accessed 9/15/18, https://www.nytimes.com/.../when-we-eat-or-dont-eat-may-be-critical-for-health.html).

  • “Studies show that chronically disrupting [our circadian rhythm]—by eating late meals or nibbling on midnight snacks, for example—could be a recipe for weight gain and metabolic trouble.”
  • Satchin Panda, a professor at the Salk Institute and circadian rhythms’ researcher, says in his book The Circadian Code, that “people improve their metabolic health when they eat their meals in a daily 8-10-hour window, taking their first bite of food in the morning and their last bite early in the evening.”
  • The pancreas releases insulin during the day to maintain blood sugar levels; the release of enzymes and even gut bacteria “operate on a daily rhythm as well.” Says Panda, “We’re designed to have 24-hour rhythms in our physiology and metabolism.”
  • “…Consuming the bulk of your food earlier in the day is better for your health,” maintains Dr. Courtney Peterson, an assistant professor in the department of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She says that “Eating late in the evening sends a conflicting signal to the clocks in the rest of the body that it’s still daytime.”

Do you pay attention to when you eat and make every effort to feed yourself steadily during the day, starting when you awaken? Or, do you try to ignore hunger pangs and figure you’ll eat later? The timing of when you eat is especially important if you have pre-diabetes, diabetes or metabolic disease.

In my view, making sure to eat at the best times for your body is all part of excellent self-care. Sure, it takes some attention and planning, but if nourishing yourself feels like a burden, it’s time to get some help from a therapist to learn how to think of it as a way to promote good health. There’s a pleasure from food and there’s a pleasure from feeding your body well and in a timely fashion.







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