What Time You Should Actually Be Eating Dinner, According To An Expert

We have long associated breakfast with the early morning hours, with many people eating breakfast at around 8 or 9 in the morning. We commonly have lunch in the afternoon, such as a sandwich at 12 or a quick bite to eat at 1. But what about dinner? Do we eat as soon as we get home? Do we eat in the later part of the evening? A good dinner is something we all look forward to, but what time should we eat it?

Many people across different cultures practice different times for eating dinner. People in Spain eat dinner between 9pm to midnight, according to The Spruce Eats, while Russians eat dinner around 7pm or 8pm (via Russian Life). Here in the United States, we usually eat our dinner around 6 or 7pm (via Insider), very much like our European neighbors. But is that really the correct time to eat? Would we better off eating earlier, or even later? According to some experts, the answer may still be up in the air.

The best time to eat dinner is still debated

It would seem that many experts can't come to a concrete time when it is best to eat dinner. Registered dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman told The Huffington Post that 6pm-8pm is the "ideal" dinner time, as it gives a person enough time to digest the food properly before bed, although she admits that this suggested time can differ based on one's sleep pattern or circadian rhythm. Beckerman explains that those who stay up later should eat dinner at a later time to prevent them from feeling hungry and going for a midnight snack.

Registered dietitian Jaime Bachtell-Shelbert of Wholly Nourished tells Mashed that meals consumed later in the evening can not only influence one's sleeping patterns, but are also tied to weight gain and "metabolic disturbances". She notes that "Providing a window of at least 2-3 hours between eating and bedtime is a good idea to prevent indigestion."

You should also keep an eye on what you eat shortly before bed. A heavy fast food meal, Bachtell-Shelbert explains, isn't the best thing to eat before going to bed. Instead, she recommends eating a light snack before bed such as popcorn, dried fruit, or nuts. She also recommends "sleep superfoods" such as grapes, kiwis, or cherries.

While dinner may differ for some of us, it's important to find a balance between a filling meal and one that will help you sleep soundly.