Eating at night

Hi – here are some great tips from nutritionist Matt O’Neill about Eating at night

The old saying goes, “Breakfast for a king, lunch for a prince,

dinner for pauper.” However, do you need to eat less at night,

particularly carbohydrate. Here are some facts and practical tips

to manage your eating night-time eating.

Can I still eat carbohydrates after 6pm? The simple answer is,

“Yes you can – just make sure you don’t overeat.” It is over

consumption of food late in the day, or “back-loading” calories, as

leading US dietitian Ellen Coleman calls it, which is the likely

cause of weight gain related to night-time eating.

It’s hard to find any conclusive evidence that carbohydrates or any

food eaten at night is more likely to be stored as body fat.

Metabolism drops when you are sleeping, but that simply lowers

your daily energy expenditure. The 24-hour energy balance (energy in versus

energy out) is what really matters for weight gain or weight loss. For weight loss

there appears to be no difference between eating three square meals and eating

smaller meals more often, as long as total energy intake remains the same.

Let’s get practical

Food eaten at night is not more likely to end up stored as body

fat. Even so, you still need to consider the reasons why you

might often eat too much at night and then implement some

practical strategies to cut back on what you eat late in the day.

Tick which ones apply to you.

Lack of planning – If you don’t eat enough during the day

you being hungry at night. If you skip breakfast, are too

busy for lunch or forget to snack, you leave yourself open to

overeating in the evening. By planning your food for the day,

and taking time out to eat regularly, you can satisfy your fuel

needs and avoid overfilling late in the day.

Eating habits – Habits are powerful behavioural patterns that allow us to

perform many of our daily tasks without conscious effort. Showering and teeth

cleaning are good habits that most of us do on autopilot. Unfortunately,

overeating at night also occurs on autopilot and the habit needs to be broken.

For example, try to serve the evening meal on a smaller plate or take leftovers

to the fridge immediately. These new habits will reduce the volume of food you

eat at dinner.

Eating at night

Social pressure – Your diet may be healthy until you come home and sit down

at the table with other people. It is in these situations where you may feel

obliged to eat everything served by your caring partner, mother or friend. Or

you might simply overeat during long social meals. To manage this feeding

pressure, make your diet plans known to those at home. Recruiting their

support to serve less or change what you eat at dinner will work in your favour.

And as for the belief that you should clean your plate, learn a new mantra, “It’s

better to go in the waste than around my waist!”

Emotional reward – After a stressful day, food can sooth and relax. Chocolate,

ice cream, cake and chips work well at delivering instant relief. Eating is also

an effective short-term strategy to beat night-time boredom. Identifying an

evening stress or boredom-food link is the first step. You then need to

establish alternative emotional rewards. This is not always easy, but is an

important aspect of successful weight management. Ask the question, “What

can you do in the evening that would reduce the need to eat?”

New guidelines for night-time eating

Catch up on your nutrition – The evening meal is an opportunity to achieve a

balanced diet for that day. For example, if you haven’t eaten three serves of

fruit during the day, aim to have some fruit salad for dessert. Eat a little less

of your main dish if needed. If you’ve missed out on vegetables during the

day, make your evening meal veggie-based; a stir fry, vegetable lasagne or

a salad.

Eat enough to get to bed – Unless you are an athlete or

exercising strenuously in bed, you won’t need to carb-load

at night. Serve a smaller portion, take the edge off hunger

and then get to bed. If you are asleep, you won’t feel

hungry until morning. Then you can start another day of

nutritious eating with a healthy breakfast fit for a king. The

old saying still works, but for practical reasons.

“Remember, it’s better to go in the waste than

around my waist!”

Eating at Night – No. 27 (By Matt O’Neill & SmartShape.com.au  2006

Used under license)

 

 

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