We all have heard about the various benefits of having early dinners. But just like everything else that has been overlooked in our lives, we rarely take the time out to reflect upon the importance of it. It is not until we start to notice the gradual deterioration in our health that we really try to put the effort into understanding its positive outcomes.
Well, the same was the case with me. Before this whole lockdown was implemented, I had a habit of eating dinners just an hour before the bedtime and also of occasional overnight munching. It was not like I would purposely have my dinner late but in the glory of this hustle and bustle lifestyle, taking care of my health was never my priority. However, I could notice the impact that it was having on my health. Since there was hardly any gap between my dinner and sleeping time, my body could never really reap the benefits of a good-night sleep. Even after sleeping for 8 hours, I would feel very tired and grumpy in the morning. And, due to this fatigue, I could hardly ever instil any sort of physical or mindful activity in my routine.
In my heart, I knew that I needed a change and I also knew that it would happen on my own time and I can’t just impose this change in myself until I mean it. And, Just then, Nation-wide lockdown was implemented. I had an ample amount of time in my hand and I knew if I would come up with any reason to not follow a healthy routine, it would just be an excuse to fool myself. But, this time my commitment was sincere and thoughtful. I did not rush or became too hard on myself. I started slow, like having dinner at 8:30 instead of 9. Then after a week, I pushed myself a little further and finished my dinner by 8. Now, it has been almost 4 months and I have become accustomed to finishing my dinner by 7:00 or utmost 7:30.
It was not at all easy, I was acquainted with a certain lifestyle so naturally, I would find myself feeling reluctant most of the time. But, I knew that I was investing in my overall health not only for today but for the long run. And, I started to notice some genuine changes in myself. I felt a lot more energetic after waking up and because of this, I was able to do a quick Tabata style workout in the morning. Slowly it became like a habit for me. I started waking up early, which gave me a lot of time to indulge in some other mindful activities, like reading, exercising and meditation.
We all know that there are several benefits of having an early dinner. Let’s take a look at some of these:
- You sleep better- According to Ayurveda, we should ideally complete our dinner before 8:00 p.m. Ayurveda believes that the power of our digestive system reduces as the sun starts to set. And, sleep is the time when our body gets rid of all the toxins that we consume throughout the day. When we are asleep, our body is working on replenishing and producing “Ojas” also known as vitality which supports a better immune system. When we eat late night dinners, the time where we are asleep our body keeps on working in digesting the food that we have just consumed instead of resting. Maybe, this is the major reason why you wake up feeling exhausted and not rejuvenated in the morning.
- Boosts your heart health- Experts all around the world are emphasising on how early dinners improve the quality of our health. Eating dinners late can increase the insulin and cholesterol levels in our body, which can pose a serious threat to our health, especially for a person who has diabetes, thyroid or blood pressure. If we make it a pattern of eating late, the calories we consume convert into triglycerides, a type of fatty acid that adds on to the risk of attracting stroke or heart attack.
The more we make it a habit of eating early and light, the more are the chances of us being safe from cardiovascular diseases.
- Aids in weight loss – Even though this is not the only reason as to why one should eat early dinners, people who have been aiming to lose weight can vouch that eating dinner on time has played a significant role in it. According to some of the experts, wrapping up the consumption of your meal in the timeframe of 6.a.m to 7.p.m. can help you drastically in cutting down on your calories. It is also claimed that the more you fast overnight, the more it will assist in increasing your fat loss. In simpler words, when we eat early in the evening there is a huge gap between our dinner and the next meal, and our body has sufficient time to digest the food that we have consumed.
- Helps in reducing the risk of obesity- According to a study conducted in 2016, India is amongst the top 5 countries in terms of an increased number of population being affected by obesity. Eating late dinners is one of the major causes of the severe rise in obesity both amongst the children and adults.
When we indulge in late-night dinners the calories that are being consumed end up getting stored in the form of fat instead of producing energy. This could lead to weight gain and thus obesity.
- Lowers the risk of cancer- According to a research at “The Barcelona Institute for Global Health, people who eat dinner early or wait at least two hours before going to sleep have a lower risk for cancer”. It was also noted that amongst men, the risk of getting prostate cancer was reduced by 26% and the risk of women getting breast cancer was reduced by 16%.
- Reduced feeling of heaviness and bloating- You might have noticed that whenever we eat something heavy or whenever we eat very late at night, our abdominal start to feel a little bloated. We suddenly complain about feeling uneasy and heavy around our chest and sometimes we also feel a little nauseous. Well, late-night dinner plays a major role in this feeling of heaviness and bloating. Eating too much or too late at night interferes with our digestive system and therefore the food we have consumed is not being able to digest properly. So, it is always advisable to wrap up your dinner before 8.p.m.
- You feel more energized throughout the day- Aside from all the physical health benefits of eating early dinner, there are also a lot of other mental benefits linked with eating early. When we eat early dinners, we tend to sleep early. And during the time we are asleep our body focuses on producing more energy instead of digesting food. This way we wake up feeling a lot more energized as compared to when we used to have late dinners. When we wake up feeling fresh and active, it also reflects upon our mood. We feel more uplifted and excited about new challenges, which in turn helps in regulating and maintaining good overall health.
Note: Remember, that eating early is not at all about starving yourself. If at any point you find yourself feeling hungry, you can always calm your stomach by eating some low-carb snacks or by having a cup of hot milk.
In the end: We cannot articulate the importance of early dinner in some words. It is not just a lifestyle habit. It is a sense of better and improved well-being which also enhances our overall personality. Just think about it, it leaves us with so much time to spend on ourselves, on the things that we always used to find difficult to accommodate with our fast-paced living.
In the end, it all comes down to our will power because it is only us who can push ourselves for our best and nobody else.