When you eat vs. what you eat

lobster roll and chips
Lobster Roll at Freshies in Park City–the best food I’ve had in Utah.

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that said when you eat can affect your mood. And not just your mood but mood disorders. It was called When We Eat Can Affect Our Mental Health by Alina Dizik.

Here’s an excerpt:

The hunt for connections between our food and our mood is gaining steam in scientific research. New findings show that it isn’t just what we eat but also when we eat that affects how we feel.

Delving into the relationship between eating patterns and the body’s circadian system shows how eating on an unpredictable schedule such as during the body’s resting phase at night can hurt our mood or exacerbate symptoms of mood-related disorders, according to research from Elisa Brietzke, a professor of psychiatry at Queen’s University School of Medicine in Kingston, Ontario, and Elena Koning, a doctoral student at Queen’s University Centre for Neuroscience Studies. Their research builds on earlier studies showing that eating meals at different times each day contributes to weight gain and is linked to depression.


Their advice is to fast 12 hours at night. In other words don’t eat too close to bedtime. It can interfere with circadian rhythms that I wrote about last week HERE.

It’s also important to stick to the same schedule of eating — even on the weekends.

Here’s more:

MS. KONING: Eating rhythms that aren’t consistent from day to day, or that occur in the incorrect phase, desynchronize the circadian clock, which has a negative impact on mood. It can be hard to pinpoint an exact cause of altered mood, but we know that the brain is susceptible to changes from the body’s energy supply.

A meal eaten in the day has a very different effect on your brain and body than a meal eaten at night. Food is a wake-up cue to the brain and can worsen sleep quality if eaten too close to bed. Melatonin levels start to rise three hours before bed, and the metabolic process following food intake is negatively influenced when the melatonin levels rise. Essentially your body needs at least 12 hours of fasting at night, yet most people only get nine hours.


Do you stick to a regular schedule for meals? How does your mood get affected if you’re off schedule? Or if you eat too close to bed time?

25 thoughts on “When you eat vs. what you eat

  1. Ummmm… The WSJ needs to stick to finances and the market trends, and stay WAY away from what I eat and when I eat it. I do not get my finance advice from Cosmo, so I am not going to get health advice from WSJ.

  2. I changed my eating years ago to reduce inflammation as it impacts arthritis. One of the big points was stopping eating at least 3 hours before bed. I know when I visited daughter in CO they ate dinner very late. Nothing I could really do, but it threw my schedule off and it was hard.

    • I couldn’t do that. We gave up eating together as a family when the kids had swim practice six days a week. They wouldn’t be home until 7 or 7:30 p.m. which is too late for me and my husband. We would eat early and have food prepared for them.

  3. Fasting works for me. When I am really cooking, I do the intermittent fasting bit of waiting 18 hours between meals. The split usually works out as enjoying dinner at around 7-8 PM then having lunch between 1-2 PM the following day. Per minimum though, fasting for about 14 hours every day keeps my mind more clear and at peace. Eating meals too closely causes mind and body issues for me; I hate the feeling of being bloated.

  4. I got to be honest. I get so TIRED of the health news. Most of us were doing Intermittent Fasting already, but didn’t put a name to it. Lately, the health industry tries to get us crazy with all sorts of things. I miss the OLD days, eat normally, be active, walking/biking, etc. and NOT think about health 24/7.

  5. I think what and when I eat definitely affects my mood. If I eat late, I wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to get back to sleep. That makes me grumpy. Lol. Also, if I eat sugary snacks, I feel elated and then my blood sugar drops and I get grumpy. Again. Lol. Nobody wants me grumpy, not even me, so I try to eat well and finish dinner by 6.

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