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Mental Health Benefit of Daytime Eating

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Daytime Eating and Mental Health

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital developed a study that supports the idea that meal timing may be able to influence mental health, particularly depression-like mood levels. Their study simulated night work and compared the effects of daytime and nighttime eating versus exclusive daytime eating.

Navigation: Does Daytime Eating Benefit Mental Health?, The Influence of Timing Food Intake on Mental Health, Mental Health Benefits of Eating Regularly Throughout the Day, Eating Habits to Adopt to Avoid Depression and Anxiety, Why You Should Take Care of Your Mental Health, Rehab Is Your Best Chance

Modern science continues to prove that even the most basic day-to-day decisions that we make can have a significant impact on our overall health. Your lifestyle choices can affect your well-being. These small decisions create an even bigger effect than people realize.

In fact, research suggests that even the timing of food intake can impact the way people feel, which in turn can influence the way they behave. Researchers found that daytime eating may benefit a person’s mental health as well as their mood.

One study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a founding member of the Mass General Brigham healthcare system, found that eating at night can increase depression-like and anxiety-like mood levels. This means grinding away at your job while everybody is sleeping may put your mental health at risk.

This study suggests that altering your daily dietary strategy may prove beneficial if your goal is to optimize your mental health or prevent mental health disorders. By limiting your meals to daytime hours, you may be able to reduce your chances of developing depression and anxiety.

Melatonin and light therapies are currently the proposed solutions for security guards, nurses, firefighters, and other shift workers who are at risk of developing poor mental health due to their altered biological clock. These workers are usually the ones with internal circadian misalignment. Solutions need to be developed to help them overcome these mental health problems while maintaining crucial round-the-clock services.

Researchers suggest meal timing intervention. Let’s take a closer look.


Does Daytime Eating Benefit Mental Health?

When a person’s internal body clock is disrupted, it can expose them to mood vulnerability. Staying awake during the typical sleeping hours can affect your emotional well-being.

Even after years of night shifts, workers have not fully adapted to the altered schedule. The longer a person’s biological clock is altered, the worse the effects could be.

As we all know, eating regularly throughout the day can help regulate blood sugar levels, which can affect mood and energy levels. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can also provide important nutrients that support brain function and mental well-being.

Studies have shown that irregular eating patterns, such as skipping meals or eating at inconsistent times, may be associated with an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. This may be due to the effect of meal timing on various hormones and neurotransmitters that are involved in mood regulation, such as cortisol, insulin, and serotonin.

Research suggests that certain diets or patterns of eating, such as the Mediterranean diet or intermittent fasting, may have a positive impact on mental health. For example, the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, has been associated with a reduced risk of depression and anxiety.

But aside from eating regularly, proper meal timing may also have an impact on mental health. The exact mechanisms and extent of this relationship are still being studied. However, there is evidence to suggest that daytime eating may benefit mental health.


The Influence of Timing Food Intake on Mental Health

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital developed a study that supports the idea that meal timing may be able to influence mental health, particularly depression-like mood levels. Their study simulated night work and compared the effects of daytime and nighttime eating versus exclusive daytime eating.

According to the research team, symptoms of depression-like mood had a 26 percent increase while symptoms of anxiety-like mood had a 16 percent increase among participants who were in the daytime and nighttime meal control group.

On the other hand, this increased mood vulnerability was not experienced by members of the daytime-only eating group. This suggests that meal timing intervention may have something to do with mental health.

Co-corresponding author Frank A. J. L. Scheer, PhD, Director of the Medical Chronobiology Program in the Brigham’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, said: “Our findings provide evidence for the timing of food intake as a novel strategy to potentially minimize mood vulnerability in individuals experiencing circadian misalignment, such as people engaged in shift work, experiencing jet lag, or suffering from circadian rhythm disorders.”

Co-corresponding author Sarah L. Chellappa, MD, PhD, added: “Our findings open the door for a novel sleep/circadian behavioral strategy that might also benefit individuals experiencing mental health disorders. Our study adds to a growing body of evidence finding that strategies that optimize sleep and circadian rhythms may help promote mental health.”

Chellappa is now in the Department of Nuclear Medicine, University of Cologne, Germany, but completed work on this study while at the Brigham.

The team emphasized that future studies in shift workers and clinical populations are still necessary to establish how meal timing can prevent increased mood vulnerability. They said that while further studies are needed, their study introduces a new ‘player’ to the table, referring to meal timing as an influential factor in mental health.

“Meal timing is emerging as an important aspect of nutrition that may influence physical health,” said Chellappa. “But the causal role of the timing of food intake on mental health remains to be tested. Future studies are required to establish if changes in meal timing can help individuals experiencing depressive and anxiety/anxiety-related disorders.”

The researchers got these results with the help of 19 participants who were subjected to simulated night work over the course of two weeks. One half of the group had meals during both daytime and nighttime hours. The other half only ate during the day.

During the simulated night work, there were no changes in mood for the participants in the daytime meal intervention group.

It is worth noting that participants who had a greater degree of circadian misalignment experienced more depression-like and anxiety-like mood levels.

This study is important because shift workers account for up to 20 percent of the workforce. They are directly responsible for a lot of factory work, hospital services, and essential services that require round-the-clock shifts. They are the ones who are most vulnerable to depression and anxiety-like symptoms due to their circadian misalignment and body clock disruption. This is partly the reason they have a 25 to 40 percent higher risk of depression and anxiety.

Researchers are looking into whether avoiding meals at nighttime could help promote mental health for shift workers. Limiting meals to the daytime may help prevent mood vulnerabilities that are associated with the night shift.

Mental Health Benefits of Eating Regularly Throughout the Day

Researchers placed an emphasis on shift workers and the potential benefits of daytime eating for their mental health. While further studies have to be conducted on the benefits of eating only during the day, there are several noteworthy benefits to eating throughout the day.

According to research, eating regularly throughout the day can have positive effects on mental health, including:

Mood stabilization: Skipping meals or going long periods without food can cause drops in blood sugar levels, leading to irritability, fatigue, and mood swings. Eating regular, balanced meals throughout the day can help stabilize blood sugar levels and improve overall mood.

Improved cognitive function: The brain requires a steady supply of glucose to function properly, and skipping meals or eating irregularly can cause cognitive function to suffer. Eating regular meals throughout the day can provide the brain with a consistent supply of glucose, leading to improved cognitive function and better mental performance.

Reduced anxiety and depression: Studies have shown that people who eat regular meals throughout the day are less likely to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression than those who skip meals or eat irregularly. Eating a balanced diet that includes all essential nutrients can help reduce stress and promote better mental health.

Increased energy and productivity: Regularly fueling the body with nutritious meals can help boost energy levels and improve overall productivity. Eating regular meals throughout the day can help keep the body and mind alert and focused, leading to increased productivity and better mental performance.

Eating regularly not only benefits your mental health, but also your physical health. For example, it can boost your metabolism. Eating regularly throughout the day can boost your metabolism and help you burn calories more efficiently.

By eating at regular intervals throughout the day, you can maintain steady blood sugar levels, which in turn provides sustained energy throughout the day. It even enhances nutrient absorption, which keeps your body healthy.

Additionally, eating regularly reduces the likelihood of overeating at mealtimes. By keeping you satisfied and full, you can avoid cravings for unhealthy foods. This helps you prevent weight gain.

Those who eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day are able to avoid digestive issues like constipation, bloating, and heartburn.

If you are trying to build muscle, eating regularly can help you maintain your muscle mass by providing a steady supply of nutrients to your muscles.

While researchers are still studying the benefits of daytime eating for shift workers, you should stick with consistent meal timing. At the end of the day, it’s all about sticking with a healthy and balanced diet.

Eating Habits to Adopt to Avoid Depression and Anxiety

Aside from maintaining consistent meal times, there are other ways you can use your diet to minimize your risk of mental health disorders like depression and anxiety.

For example, socializing with others during meal times can provide a sense of connection and improve your mood.

What you eat also matters. Make sure you eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

Consume foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and soybeans as they may help reduce symptoms of depression. Also consume probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut as they may help improve gut health on top of reducing the symptoms of depression.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding sugary drinks. As much as possible, limit your intake of processed foods, sugary snacks, and high-fat foods as they may have negative impacts on your mood and energy levels.

If you want to avoid impulsive and unhealthy food choices, plan your meals and snacks in advance. Eat mindfully by focusing on the present moment, savoring the taste, and paying attention to your hunger and fullness signals.

Why You Should Take Care of Your Mental Health

Paying attention to what you eat and when is a good way to keep your mental health in check. You need to take care of your mental health just as much as your physical health.

When you have good mental health, you are more productive at work and at home. You can focus better, make better decisions, solve your problems, and achieve your goals. It also allows you to deal with stress and challenges in a healthy way, equipping you with the tools you need to handle life’s ups and downs.

You feel better about yourself when you take care of your mental health. It improves your self-esteem and gives you a more positive outlook on life. You also become more confident in your abilities.

Even more importantly, it protects you from mental illness. Common mental health disorders include depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Taking the time to take care of your mental health is a good way to avoid these mental health conditions.

When you have good mental health, you are able to maintain healthy relationships with other people. You can have fulfilling relationships with the people around you.

Good mental health even extends into your physical health. You can avoid problems like headaches, chronic pain, fatigue, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Overall, you will simply feel happier, which leads to an improved quality of life. It enables you to enjoy your daily activities, work, and relationships.  Mental health remains an essential part of overall health and well-being.

If you or someone you love is struggling with a mental health disorder or a substance use disorder, look for a treatment facility near you. Your road to recovery through rehab starts today. Don’t hesitate to seek proper medical treatment.


Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.

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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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