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Plate of fired chicken and waffles

Source: Ben Bern / Getty

Not maintaining consistent eating times can lead to poor mental health, including depression and anxiety, cardio-metabolic diseases and weight gain, according to Medical Xpress. A doctoral student in the field of neuropsychiatry and a psychiatrist focusing on nutrition and mood disorders found that eating rhythms can be used to limit negative moods and increase mental health. Research shows that the circadian clock, which is a part of the body’s internal clock, aligns the internal processes at optimal times of day based on the environment such as light or food. The main clock controls the  metabolic function over the day-night cycle. According to the research, when the circadian clock in the brain is out of sync with eating rhythms, it impacts the brain’s ability to function fully. The brain takes 25% of an individual’s energy and is impacted by changes in the calorie intake, which means irregular meal times result in negative health outcomes.

The research revealed that individuals with depression or bipolar disorder displayed internal rhythms and irregular meal times, which exacerbates mood symptoms.  Shift workers, with irregular eating schedules, also displayed increased rates of depression and anxiety when compared to the general population.

One suggestion is to create time restricted eating, also known as TRE, intermittent fasting.  TRE restricts the time for eating to a specific time period, which usually ranges from four to twelve hours.  For overnight fasting, all meals and snacks would be eaten between 9:00 AM and 7:00 PM.  Research shows that TRE maximizes brain function, energy metabolism and the healthy signaling of metabolic hormones.