At the end of a loooong day, dinner is screaming your name. The hangry-ness hit hours ago, the post-work traffic was painful, and you’re itching to inhale your evening meal. For most Americans, this means finally sitting down anywhere from 6:00 to 7:00 P.M.
If you fly across the Atlantic to Italy, you’ll find that the locals have only just taken their first sips of Aperol Spritz by this point. That’s because they’re having an aperitivo, which is basically a swanky happy hour of pre-dinner snacks and drinks. They won’t mosey over to their main course reservations until at least 9:00 P.M.
Meanwhile, in Mexico, they’ve already had their big meal at midday. La Comida is a multi-course spread that spans from noon to 2:00 P.M. Most workplaces and establishments will close up shop during those hours to accommodate this epic lunch. Norwegians split the difference. Middag (AKA dinner) is usually eaten around 4:00 to 5:00 P.M. Now that’s an early bird special.
When it comes to dinnertime, where you are on the globe makes a difference. So, who’s got it right? Since there are more than a few factors at play here, let’s dive in and digest them together.
How Often Should You Be Eating?
In general, leaving four to five hours in between bigger, balanced meals is ideal. Try eating your breakfast within an hour or two of waking up to give your metabolism a boost. If you grab a yogurt on the go before work around 8:30 A.M., you should pull out your lunchbox by 1:00 P.M. This gives your body time to digest and keeps your blood sugar from spiking.
Is it Safe to Snack?
We’ll never say no to a snack attack. If you’re starting to feel hunger cues before your scheduled lunch and dinner, that’s your sign to grab a little something. Small snacks with protein, fiber, and healthy fats will power you through to your next meal while keeping your blood sugar stabilized. Have a cup of carrots and hummus, top greek yogurt with berries, or dip an apple in peanut butter!
When Should You Eat Dinner?
No day is picture perfect and can easily be derailed by a late night at work or a last-minute errand you forgot to run (oops). On that rare, random Wednesday when everything’s going according to plan, aim to eat dinner around 6:30 P.M. The 5:30 to 7:30 P.M. window is the sweet spot. Eating later in the evening has been linked to weight gain, metabolic issues, and even sleep troubles. Of course there are other components, like portion size, genetic makeup, what you’re eating, and your hunger levels. Keep in mind that these are general guidelines, and you should work closely with a medical professional to find a diet that fits your unique lifestyle.
If life stuff gets in the way of your supper, don’t sweat it. For the days when you have >30 minutes to cook, we’ve got you covered with meals ready in 3. Whether you need a quick bite after work, have date night plans with your partner, or are hosting a party for friends, our dishes will be done just in time for dinner.