Are You Eating Backwards?
People who struggle with their weight often find their evening meal to be the most challenging. When it comes to dieting, most people don’t have much of a problem watching calories throughout the day. Then they come home and BAM! They eat more calories in one sitting than they did all day long.
One reason this happens is we’ve been conditioned to eat big meals for dinner. Normally that means a meat, a couple of sides, and sometimes bread or dessert – but who said a meal has to be a 7-course meal? It must have been the same person who invented the Pop Tart for breakfast – and they have it all backwards.
Let’s look at food as fuel. Do you need a lot of fuel to power you to sleep? No. Do you need fuel to power you to work? Yes. So why would we have a small breakfast and big dinner? It’s completely opposite from what our body needs.
5 Healthy Food Habits for Weight Loss
1. Eat a 300-400 calorie breakfast with a nice balance of fat, protein and low-glycemic carbohydrates. Stock up on breakfast foods like Egg Beaters, oatmeal, bagel thins, low-carb wraps, grits, Chobani greek yogurt, Designer Whey vanilla protein, peanut butter, granola and fruit. Plan ahead and be creative. Cooking breakfast in advance and utilizing leftovers (like spinach, asparagus and meats) can really help create fast fixings.
2. Splurge for lunch. Instead having your biggest meal at dinner, schedule cheat meals at lunch. At least you will have several hours to burn off what you ate, instead of eating at night and hitting the sack on a full stomach. Even if you are eating healthy, try to save your high-carb meals, like sandwiches, pastas and potatoes, for lunchtime.
3. Simplify dinner. Don’t over-think your evening menu. If you are trying to diet, limit meals to one white meat and one green side. Use a little olive oil or natural fats, like avocado, to help the meal stay with you longer. Green vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, green beans, spinach, zucchini, collards, cabbage and salad greens are normally lower in calories. Be very sparing with beans, even the green kind. Peas, black-eyed peas, lima beans, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans and kidney beans are all higher in carbohydrates and calories. One green bean that’s an exception is the soy bean (edamame). Edamame has a excellent balance of carbs, fats and protein. YUM!
4. Just skip it. Sometimes people eat just because they think they are “supposed to”. Just because it’s meal time, you don’t always have to eat a traditional meal. If you come home late at night, or you really aren’t that hungry, sometimes it’s OK to just make a protein shake and call it a night – especially if you just left the gym. Or maybe you decide to just have a few almonds and a piece of fruit, or some yogurt to curb your appetite. Although you do need to keep a steady small amount of calories coming in to keep your metabolism revved, they don’t have to be anything fancy or complicated.
5. Choose only one 100-200 calorie evening snack. If you are like me, you can snack the entire night away if you let yourself. Instead, choose your snack wisely. Do you crave sweets? Then a sugar-free fudge pop, jello pudding or fruit may be the way to go. Do you crave salty snacks? Then you may prefer 100-calorie popcorn as your go-to snack. Whatever you choose, try to limit your calories to only one 100-200 calories, and only choose one item – that includes drinks. Even if you WANT to snack, you won’t die if you go without snacking – and those little after-dinner calories add up quick so be stingy with them.