September 12, 2011
After working and running around all day, you’re finally home…and STARVING! Wait, it’s way after 7 pm and you know you’ve heard that eating after 7 will make you pack on the pounds. The last thing you want are extra inches around your hips.
Guess what? I’m gonna give you some good news. That is just an urban legend. Eating after dark is not enough to make food magically convert to fat and store itself around your belly and thighs, or any other area that you don’t desire the extra cushioning. The superfluous padding gets packed on when we eat more than our bodies actually need. (The simplest way to estimate your basic caloric need for organ function can be calculated by adding a 0 to your body weight in pounds.)
So, how did this rumor get started? The “recommendation” to not eat after six, seven, eight, or other evening hours was probably initiated by some health professional to prevent clients from overeating. In some ways, that can be true. You know the saying that nothing good happens after midnight? Well, no good comes from eating crap late at night, either (or any hour, for that matter).
The truth is, most of us have bustling work schedules that don’t allow us to eat our last meal of the day until late in the evening - and that’s okay as long as you do it right. Here’s a guide to evening eating and staying the same size:
Have a small, light meal consisting of a lean protein—no larger than the size of the palm of your hand and consisting of mainly vegetables.
A late dinner is okay if your caloric needs have not been met for the day. Ideally, this would be a dinner consisting of something less along the lines of a double cheeseburger and chili cheese fries, and more along the lines of grilled chicken and broccoli. See above recommended small, light meal.
- Eat only if you’re hungry, not because you’re answering a craving.
- If you feel a craving coming on, drink water instead of giving in. Sometimes dehydration disguises itself as hunger.
- If you still feel hungry 30 minutes after your glass of water, try having any of the following sweet or savory snacks, instead of ice cream, cake, or bag of chips.
- ½ cup of light Greek yogurt or plain yogurt topped with fresh fruit, a tablespoon of slivered almonds, or a tablespoon of honey
- Fresh or frozen berries, mixed in a tablespoon of melted dark, 70% cacao chocolate
- ¼ cup (about a palm full) of almonds
- 1 cereal bowl serving of plain or lightly salted popcorn
- Fresh veggie sticks dipped in salad dressing (up to 1 tablespoon)
Late night meals aren’t ideal…but they’re often our only option. A good habit to get into is being mindful of the way you fuel your body throughout the day. Until you catch the break that allows you to have earlier dinners, you’re now equipped with knowledge of how to eat late night without having to let your clothes out.