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The #1 Worst Eating Habit for Your Health, New Study Suggests

“This study reinforces the notion that when you eat matters."

It can sometimes be difficult to fit nutritious meals into your busy day, especially if you happen to work late hours. However, it turns out that eating at night could be seriously bad for your health.

In a study published in Science Advances that was backed by the National Institutes of Health, researchers divided 19 people—both men and women—into two groups with different meal schedules. One group ate during the daytime, while the other ate at nighttime. Those who ate at night experienced a 6.4% spike in glucose levels, which could lead to serious health issues like diabetes and heart disease. (RELATED: The 100 Unhealthiest Foods On the Planet)

"This study reinforces the notion that when you eat matters for determining health outcomes such as blood sugar levels, which are relevant for night workers as they typically eat at night while on shift," study co-leader Sarah L. Chellappa, M.D., PhD., said in a news release.

If you at night, there are a few things at play that can affect your glucose levels, Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, adjunct professor of nutrition at NYU and author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, said in an interview.

RELATED: What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Right Before Bed

"One is that you eat extra calories, and these are generally in the form of easy-to-grab ultra-processed foods high in sugar and salt," Young, who is also a member of the Eat This, Not That! Medical Expert Board, added. "You also don't have the chance to burn off the calories as you go to bed, so it's easy to lead to weight gain, too."

When it comes to changing your eating habits for the better, Morgyn Clair, MS, RDN, noted that "setting up a day-time routine is one of the most important first steps when someone is starting a healthy eating journey." Clair, who is also a writer at Fit Healthy Momma, added that people should "avoid erratic eating times and set up a consistent schedule that works for them."

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Desirée O
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, food, and nutrition news among other topics. Read more about Desirée