Why Eating Whenever You Feel Like It Isn’t Great for Your Health

Photo: Stocksy/Simone Becchetti
Having lunch every day at noon on the dot and dinner precisely at 6 p.m. sounds like something only people ages 65-plus do. (Chances are, your grandma isn't scarfing down whatever's in the fridge at 9 p.m. after getting home from happy hour.) But two studies are making the case for scheduling your meals, eating at the same time every day.

Both published in the journal Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, the studies found that people who eat at random times every day had higher blood pressure and BMIs than people who stuck to an eating schedule—and late-night noshing made things even worse.

Gerda Pot, a professor at King's College London who worked on both studies, told Time that appetite, digestion, and the metabolization of fat, cholesterol, and glucose all appear to be linked to circadian rhythms and follow a pattern that repeats every 24 hours.

The people in the study who ate the same time every day (and fared better in the BMI and blood pressure departments) didn't just eat three meals. Some ate three, others ate up to nine. But all were conscious of the calories they were consuming (read: not mindlessly eating chips while watching Netflix), and of course, all the meals and snacks were scheduled and eaten at the same time every day.

While modern life doesn't make it easy to stick to a meal schedule (like having to eat lunch whenever you happen to be between work meetings), it's not that far-fetched—chances are, you already schedule gym time, so why not something else that's just as important for your body?

Originally published July 1, 2016. Updated July 24, 2018.

Eating lunch at the same time every day is one thing, but knowing what to eat is something else entirely. Change up your salad by checking out what 14 wellness influencers eat for lunch. And these 15-minute dinner recipes will make sticking to a schedule during the work week much easier.

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