5 reasons you should have dinner around sunset

Beware, late dinner can spoil your metabolism, sleep, brain and all your cycles. Find out how

Ever wondered why your parents and grandparents insisted you to have an early dinner and go to bed when you were kids? While they wanted you wake up early for school the next day, they were aware about these numerous health benefits of early dinner that you seem to have forgotten over the years due to your busy lives.

According to the principles of Ayurveda, human body has a lot to do with cycles of nature and sunlight. It recognises the ratri as a period that starts an hour after the sunset. This period is divided into four phases and it is recommended that one should eat dinner in the first phase of ratricharya, if the body's cycle has to be in sync with the nature's cycle. Only if it is in sync with the nature, will it help you keep diseases at bay and lead an overall healthy life.

Prevents obesity: Dinner is ideally the last meal of your day, unless you have developed the horrible habit of waking up in the middle of night and eating. As the day ends, your body processes and metabolism slow down. So, if you eat late, that food is not utilised for energy. It instead gets converted to fat stores, resulting in weight gain.[1]

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Reduces gastrointestinal problems: Those who eat late, suffer from digestive problems like acidity, heart burn and bloating because the time gap between dinner and sleep reduces. So, when you lie down to go to sleep, the stomach acid gets refluxed to the esophagus, causing uneasiness. On the contrary, when you eat early, your digestive system processes the food well in time before you go to bed.[2]

Promotes good sleep: Poor digestion due to late dinner has serious effects on the sleep cycle. With nocturnal acidity, cough and heart burn, you will tend to wake up often at nights. Also, with late dinner your water consumption at night increases. So, you'll wake up from sleep to empty your bladder again and again. This results in poor sleep quality.

Allows systems to re-energize: Early dinner gives your brain and other organs of the body time to focus on re-energizing themselves for the next day instead of working on digestion, absorption and nutrient extraction, forced on them by having late dinner.

You feel refreshed the next day: Your biological clock of the body is programmed based on sunrise and sunset pattern. When you allow your body's systems to work the way they are programmed, you'll hardly feel lethargic and tired the next day.

If overtime at the office, late night dinner parties or clubbing compel you to shift your dinner timings, here are some ways you can make adjustments to your routine and still eat on time.

  • If you're still in your office, college or outside at sunset, eat something light that is easily digestible. Preferably, eat a sandwich, dosa, fruits, nuts or grilled vegetables. Here's how you can have light yet filling dinner.
  • After going home, avoid eating an entire heavy meal. Preferably, drink warm milk or eat fruits two hours before your bedtime. You can try thesetop 51 healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
  • Avoid late night dinner parties as far as possible. Since it won't completely avoidable, make sure you don't skip a meal at sunset in order to eat at the party. In fact, if you eat early, you won't feel hungry late night.
  • Don't skip breakfast or lunch. It will completely ruin your eating schedule for the day.

Image source: Getty images

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  1. Yoshida C, Shikata N, Seki S, Koyama N, Noguchi Y. Early nocturnal meal skipping alters the peripheral clock and increases lipogenesis in mice. Nutrition & Metabolism 2012;9:78. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-9-78.
  2. Duroux P, Bauerfeind P, Emde C, Koelz HR, Blum AL. Early dinner reduces nocturnal gastric acidity. Gut. 1989 Aug;30(8):1063-7. PubMed PMID: 2767502; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1434162.

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