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I am having difficulty in distinguishing between these time words.

For example,

I ate my meal earlier/recently/lately.

When to use earlier, recently, and lately? What if I've done an action a few minutes ago? What will be the appropriate word?

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I ate my meal earlier.

means you ate your meal before that time, in the same day.

I ate my meal recently.

means you ate your meal before that time but not long ago.
But I would not say it is a normal usage in this example.

I ate my meal lately.

means on some past occasion(s). But the past time frame is not specific.
Again I would not say it is a normal usage in this example. But some additional context would make it more natural. For example:

I have been going to work lately, even though I didn't want to.

As for what happened "a few minutes ago", I would say:

I just ate my meal.

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