Book: The Global Foods and Recipes
Author: Smita Dey - Researcher, Healthy Food and Recipes
As dinner is directly related to our health, we need to know the best time to eat dinner. We can avoid many common health issues practicing dinner habits on time.
We all are keen to have a good health. It is not difficult to have a good health if we take our meals on time. As dinner is the last meal of a day and our body is not working for next few hours we must be careful about our dinner time.
It is true, dinner time varies on countries and life style of the people. Most of us do not know the right time to eat dinner so we cannot practice it. So let us know first the best time for dinner helping our good health.
Through many researches it is established that, eating dinner late at night may harm our body whereas early dinner helps us in many ways.
We are leading modern lifestyle and we have been going away from the practice of early dinner. It is not surprising for us to take our dinner after 8 pm and it is not good for us. We need to practice early dinner to have a better result.
According to Ayurveda, ‘Jatharagni’(strong digestive fire) is responsible for the digestion of food that we take. The strength of the fire varies according to the time of day. It is strongest during the daytime and weakest during night.
In one Brigham Young University study, the researchers asked 29 people to stop to have the dinner at 7 p.m for two weeks and they can have their meal whenever they like for another two weeks. They found ‘’the guys ended up eating 244 fewer calories each day when they stopped eating after the cutoff’’.
Our body is programmed according to a 24 hour circadian rhythm. Our metabolism and hormones are programmed to do their work in the day when we are active, then store, build and recover at night, when we rest, sleep and regenerate.
When we sleep, our metabolism slows down. As a result, excess food is stored as fat in our body and our body gains weight. If we eat early, our food will be digested before we go to sleep. A survey has confirmed that the best time of dinner is between 6 pm and 6.30 pm.
Early dinner gives us all the benefits of food. We get numerous physical benefits if we maintain right time to eat dinner. Let’s see some of the benefits.
Good Sleep at Night
Late dinner interferes with the sleep. Late dinner is the cause of acid reflux. Acid reflux is very discomforting that interrupts our sleep. To avoid the problem we must take our dinner early and enjoy a good sleep at night.
Prevention of Gaining Weight
It is established that when we sleep, our metabolism slows down. The food we take at dinner time, turns into fat in the body during our sleep; if we go to sleep just after taking the dinner. If we take dinner early we shall get time to take a walk and burn the excess calories that we consume.
Eating early dinner reduces the risk of heart diseases. When we eat late our tendency to eat more will increase. And when these calories are not burnt off, these are turned into triglycerides increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke as well.
Reduce the Risk of Cancer
A cancer study shows early dinner helps to reduce the risk of cancer. The diners who have their dinner at least two hours before bed have reduced cancer risk. 26% of males reduced their prostate cancer and 6% of females reduced their breast cancer. 
Reduce the Risk of Diabetes
If our body can use insulin properly the risk of diabetes can be reduced. Having our dinner early we can give our body the chance to utilize insulin properly and converting our consumed food to glucose.
Improvement of Energy Level
You can get more time to stabilize your blood sugar level by having your dinner early and you can feel less fatigue and irritable.
Early Dinner Helps to Digest Foods
Your food cannot be digested properly if you go to your bed just after having your dinner. It may cause indigestion. If your body gets more gap between dinner and sleep, your digestive function work in a proper way.
Helpful for Excretory System
Early dinner helps you to get relief from constipation. If you have your dinner early and have a gap between your dinner and bedtime your digestive system functions properly. A proper digestive system helps you to get relief from constipation.
If we take our dinner late and stay up late at night, we will not be able to wake up early in the morning. As a result we are going to miss our breakfast. When we do not take our meal on time, obviously we will eat more calories that will turn into fat and store in our body. On the other hand, if we take early dinner and go to the bed early we will find time for breakfast and other meals on time.
If we do not miss our breakfast because of late sleep our energy level will remain high.From the above discussion, we already know, when we should eat dinner and the benefits of having early dinner.
But a question may rise how we can overcome the problems if we are not able to manage the proper time for our dinner due to our busy work schedule and other issues. I usually follow these techniques to have my dinner early. Please follow these:
Commute Your Meals
If you are taking your dinner after 8 pm regularly you need to think further. You can swap your evening meal to lunchtime and can enjoy lighter snack in the evening. You also need to have a heavier meal during lunch time that keeps you full and satisfied for 4-5 hours.
You can’t take dinner by 8 pm if your working hour is till 6.30 pm or 7 pm. In that case you can prepare soup, stir fry or baked vegetable dish and keep in the fridge as you can take it with less effort and saving your time for cooking dinner when you return home after 7pm. This strategy can help you to avoid having dinner after 8 pm.
Though taking dinner early is a good practice for all, everyone does not follow the rule. Dinner time varies from country to country. Dinnertime varies on the culture and working schedule of the people. Here is average dinner time of various countries.
Average dinner time in USA is at 6 pm. The time is set for dinner depending on the working hour of USA as American job hour is 9 to 5 pm.
In Britain people takes dinner anytime between 6.30 pm and 8 pm. On Sunday, the main meal is often eaten at midday instead of in the evening.
In Norway, Finland and Germany people take dinner too early. The dinner time in Norway is 4 pm. In Finland it is at 5 pm and in Germany it is at 6 to 7 pm. People of Netherlands, Ireland, Austria and Sweden take their dinner at 7 Pm.
In Australia, people tend to have their dinner between 5 pm to 6 pm. Chinese people have their dinner from 6.30 pm to 7.30 pm. In Mexico, the regular dinner time is between 7 pm to 9 pm.
The dinner time of some countries is too late. Croatia, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain are in the group of late dinner time. Spanish people take their dinner more late than other countries. The Spanish average dinner time is 10 pm. In Croatia, Portugal and Italy the dinner time is 9 pm.
In South Africa, people take their dinner between 8 pm and 10 pm. You can find restaurants are busy in France for dinner between 7 pm to 9 pm.
So, you are now aware of the best time to eat dinner. You can change your habit of having late dinner if you have, as you are now aware of the bad effect of taking late dinner. You can notice, maximum countries practice early dinner.
You also need to try to avoid dinner after 8 pm if you are not able to sit for your dinner between 6 and 7 pm. I can ensure your relief from several health issues if you ensure me your early dinner.
I hope your awareness about early dinner can help you to lead a better life with good health. Your good willing is the only requirement to make your life beautiful with a healthy body.