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When and How you Eat matters

eating during the day with mindfulness

Dietitian Mei explores commonly overlooked points around how and when you eat - and how these might impact your physical health and emotional well-being

Take home messages


  1. By paying attention to when and how you eat, you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your meals and snacks and can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  2. Make sure you don’t get too hungry so you end up overeating – eat at regular intervals. 
  3. Practice mindful eating, slow down, chew your food as digestion starts in your mouth. 

Why does it matter about when and how you eat?


When it comes to eating, there is more to it than just satisfying hunger.


Eating food is an essential part of our daily life, and when and how we eat it can have a significant impact on our overall health and wellbeing.


Different factors such as age, activity level, and health goals can all play a role in determining the best time and way to eat food. For example, for some people, the best time to eat food is during the day and in the early evening. 

What does the science say ?


  • The body’s natural clock, known as the circadian rhythm, governs when people feel hungry and when they are ready to eat. This rhythm is closely tied to the body’s response to light and dark, meaning that people are naturally more likely to feel hungry in the morning and then again late in the afternoon.  
  • Eating at these times, as well as at regular intervals throughout the day, can help to regulate the body’s metabolism and ensure that all of the necessary nutrients are absorbed. Eating at the right time can also help to improve digestion.
  • Time restricted eating (TRE) is a type of diet in which individuals limit their food intake to a certain timeframe throughout the day. This approach aims to reduce the amount of time that the body spends in a fed state. Research has shown it may help to improve metabolic health and may even help people to lose weight [1]. 
  • The type of food that is eaten also has an impact on digestion and overall health. Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is essential for maintaining good health. Limiting the intake of refined sugars, ultra-processed foods, and saturated fats can help to reduce the risk of developing chronic health conditions. 
  • Eating can also be about enjoying the experience of trying new foods, appreciating the flavours and textures and sharing the experience with others. Taking the time to savour mealtimes can be an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. 

Practical tips


  1. Find the eating pattern that works for you
    • For some people, eating breakfast in the morning is important to provide fuel for the day and eating lunch and dinner at reasonable times can help promote better digestion. 
        • For others, eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day might be preferable to regulate blood sugar levels and keep energy levels steady.  
  2. Eating slowly and with awareness can help you recognize when you’re full and can help you enjoy the experience of eating. Taking time to chew food thoroughly helps the digestive process. Eating mindfully also allows you to appreciate the food you’re eating and respect where the food has come from. 
  3. Perhaps keep a food diary of when you eat and in what environment...were you sitting in front of your computer eating lunch and firing off emails at the same time? Or did you practice self-care by closing your laptop and enjoying a meal away from distractions?  

Final thoughts 


By understanding your daily habits about when and how people eat, it is possible to gain deeper insights into your overall dietary and health choices.


Eating at the right times to suit your lifestyle, and any medical conditions, may have a positive impact on both physical and mental wellbeing. 

Mei Wan BSc (Hons), RD, MBDA

HCPC Registered Dietitian & Nutritionist

IG: @dietitian.mei


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