In This Article
Circadian Medicine and Late-Night Eating
In 1984, during my first year in practice, I found myself exhausted at the end of a long day of patients. To figure out why I was so tired after work, I went to see an Ayurvedic doctor. Before my exam, the nurse took my blood pressure and informed me it was high. That really surprised me as I was into yoga and breathing meditation, I was a competitive triathlete, and I had finished an Ironman, so it made no sense that I would have high blood pressure at 27 years old.
The first thing the Ayurvedic doctor asked me was, “What do you eat for lunch?” I told him that I had a very busy practice and struggled to stay on time. I found myself typically with only 10-15 minutes for lunch and would quickly grab a bite or one of the chocolate truffles that were always gracing the staff lounge. I told him that I would have a nice big breakfast and a nice big dinner, but lunch was on the run.
He told me that I should schedule more time for lunch: “Go home and have a nice, relaxing, warm cooked meal in the middle of the day and you will never have blood pressure problems again.” I pushed back, asking for an Ayurvedic pill, but he was quite clear that I did not need a medicine, just a reset of my daily rhythms.
We now call this circadian medicine, and it is Nobel Prize-winning science.3
Shortly thereafter, I reset my schedule to have 1½ hours for lunch. I would leave the clinic and find a nice relaxing place to enjoy what became the largest meal of my day.
My blood pressure resolved in a few weeks and I started telling my patients to do the same. I did a small clinical study with my patients and saw that making such a simple lifestyle shift was often all that was needed to resolve certain types of blood pressure issues.
We Recommend 10 Compelling Reasons to Not Skip Breakfast
Circadian Meal Rules
- Eat breakfast.
- Eat a bigger lunch.
- Eat a smaller earlier supper.
When Do You Eat?
For decades now, I have preached the health benefits of minding when you eat. In America, we are conditioned to eat three meals a day, with dinner as the biggest meal.
Ayurveda suggests that supper should be the smallest meal, eaten as early as possible—aligning the word supper with the soup or supplemental.
A new study published in the journal Circulation, supported by the American Heart Association, evaluated mealtimes of more than 12,000 participants between 18 and 76 years old. 56.6% ate more than 30% of their daily calories after 6PM.
That group had a 23% increased risk of developing high blood pressure and a 19% higher risk of becoming prediabetic compared to those who ate less than 30% of their daily calories after 6PM.1
Many emerging studies back a new interest in circadian medicine and, without realizing it, they support basic Ayurvedic rules laid down thousands of years ago.
In another study of over 50,000 Seventh-day Adventists, meal timing was evaluated for impact on long-term weight loss. They found:
- Breakfast eaters lost more weight than breakfast skippers.
- Larger breakfast eaters lost more weight than larger dinner eaters.
- Larger lunch eaters lost more weight than larger dinner eaters.2
They concluded that for relatively healthy adults, eating less frequently, not snacking, consuming breakfast, and eating the largest meal in the morning or midday may be effective methods for preventing long-term weight gain.2
We Recommend 10 Easy Ways to Lose Weight Ayurveda-Style
Meal Timing for Blood Pressure, Weight Loss + Energy
The studies I cited above found that these three simple rules do in fact lower blood pressure, as well as support long-term weight loss.1,2 If you have these types of health concerns, then making these lifestyle changes are the best place to start.
For me, not only did I see my blood pressure come down, but I still have low blood pressure to this day. My original concern of being exhausted after work was also eradicated by this simple shift and thank God for that!
We raised six children and still, after work, I’m recruited for homework help, track meets, and other projects by my two remaining kids in high school.
Ayurveda starts with circadian medicine for good reason. Fixing your daily routine (dinacharya) and seasonal routine (ritchucharya) is step one to healthy energy levels, blood pressure, balanced weight, and more.
Try it out and let us know what happens!
Two Ways to Reset Your Digestive Clock
- Download my free Ayurvedic Weight Balancing eBook for a guide to meal timing and Ayurvedic calorie restriction without starvation.
- Sign up for my 28-Day Ayurvedic Challenge and let me guide you through a month of Ayurvedic lifestyle changes.