|When is the best time to eat dinner?
Peak dinnertime in America is 6:19 pm but varies from about 5-8 pm. Nutritionists agree that it should be at least two hours before bedtime.
The reasoning behind this is that melatonin, the hormone that signals us that it’s time to sleep, begins to rise 3 hours before we go to bed. The significance is that melatonin also tells the pancreas to cut back on insulin. So, if you have a sugar spike from eating late, your body may not create enough insulin to handle it. This increases the risk of diabetes.
(Did You Know? Nearly 70% of the calories we eat now come from carbohydrates.)
Eating late has other deleterious side effects. Eating late can affect sleep quality which can lead to hormone fluctuations and weight gain. Going to bed on a full stomach can exacerbate acid reflux causing heart burn.
Our history of hunter-gatherers and farmers lent itself to dinner around sundown and getting to bed early. Their diet (and one I’ve espoused for years) was high in protein and fiber with a bit of fat. Being hard to digest, it is perfect for a lengthy fast overnight. Our ancestors also were more active walking an estimated, 16,000-17,000 steps a day whereas the average American walks just 3-4,000 steps a day.
The final observation about dinnertime is based on the family. Studies find that families that eat dinner together, particularly before 6:15 pm, spend more quality time with their children in the evening. However, when it comes to eating as a family, being consistent and eating together are the most important factors.
-Julie Jargon, WSJ