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Danny Kim for TIME

Regular Mealtimes Make You Eat More Healthily, Study Finds

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People who eat at regular times and pack lunches instead of eating out have healthier diets overall, new research suggests.

In a new study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition researchers found that college students who made their meals at home and regularly consumed breakfast and an evening meal, had overall better diets. They avoided fast food and sugary drinks and ate more vegetables and fruit compared to people who did not keep an eating routine. People who ate on the run, or used media while they ate or purchased food often ate less healthily.

A little planning ahead, and turning off the TV while we eat could ultimately be good for our eating habits, the data suggests. "In addition to considering specific food choices, it also may be important to consider the context of mealtimes in developing dietary messaging and guidelines," the authors write.

The researchers suggested the U.S. develop dietary guidelines for healthy eating that take inspiration from other countries that make eating context a priority. For instance, the researchers write that in Japan it's recommended to "enjoy communication at the table with your family" and "establish a healthy rhythm by keeping regular hours for meals."

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