Dinner is the center piece meal of the day. But did you know it used to be a supplemental meal that was designed to hold you over until your next breakfast and lunch? Up until the mid-1800s, dinner referred to a midday meal, while supper served as a light evening meal for those needing additional nutrition after a hard day’s work, according to dictionary.com
But most of us experience the opposite. A light breakfast and lunch due to fast paced lives and full schedules can often leave you feeling very hungry by dinner. So you open a bottle of wine, get cozy in the kitchen cooking a lovely, heavy, big dinner. Filling your belly up past 7pm, or right before you go to bed. And although this sequence is accepted by our culture, it goes against the natural functions of the body.
3 major benefits to eat dinner early are.....
Fall asleep and stay asleep
Wake up feeling light, clear headed, and energized
Eliminate digestive issues
Why is eating an early dinner helpful?
Starting at 6pm, universal energy in nature is going down. And, when I say "early" I mean before 6 or 7pm. The sun is going down and it becomes cool and dark. That's why you want sit on the couch, relax, become sleepy, be less productive, and be with friends and family to reflect on the day.
The process of digestion takes energy and requires a lot of upward motion. So, when you eat a big meal energy in your body has to go up to digest the food. This is the opposite of universal downward energy and causes friction. This then shows up in the body and you experience symptoms like indigestion, constipation, gas, bloating, and interrupted sleep between 2-4am. You may feel uncomfortable, sluggish, drowsy, and anxious. When really you should feel light, energized, and content after any meal.
So, how do I start having early dinners?
In short, plan and prepare. Because this practice goes against modern culture, it's a tricky one to shift. But, once you've experienced for yourself a couple early dinners (having your last meal before 6-7pm) you'll be hooked. You feel so good and sleep so soundly that you'll want to make it last.
Organize meals and shopping list
If you always start dinner from scratch every night, it takes a lot of thinking power and time. Being the end of the day, you've already made so many decisions, the last thing you want to do is make more. Can't dinner just make itself?! Do yourself a favor and plan out a few meals on Sunday for the week. Once you have 3-4 meals, make a list of items you need at the store. Check out these 60 Fall Recipes and Dinner Ideas to get started.
Prep items ahead
The other day I cooked up a few recipes to bring me through the week. I baked a big butternut squash and put it in a squash dal and morning muffins. I also chopped veggies for quick and easy grain bowls and made sure I had sufficient fat (ghee, coconut oil, butter, and olive oil), citrus (limes and lemons), and fresh herbs (rosemary, cilantro, and parsley).
Cook foods that are nutrient dense but prepare quickly (for fall season)
Sometimes you don't create enough time to prep food! That's ok. Keep these foods handy when you're in a pinch or adventuring on the road.
Literally every vegetable!
White basmati rice
Canned beans (black, chickpea, or white northern)
Gluten-free quick oats
Nut butter (tahini, almond, or sunflower)
Dried fruit (cranberries, dates, or figs)
Hard boiled eggs
Powdered coconut milk
Divide tasks with friend/partner
Team work makes the dream work. Take turns planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning with the people you eat dinner with. If you live alone, treat yourself to take out once a week. Devise a plan and follow through so you have evenings off certain duties. This way you're less likely to overeat in the evening and reap the benefits of built in accountable.