You are doing everything that you ought to. You stock your kitchen and fridge with greens and vegetables, you supervise the tiniest morsel that goes into your mouth and it’s been months that you have tasted your favourite ice cream or dessert. But, when you weigh yourself at the end of the month, you realize that nothing is working. You have gained weight, yet again! In spite of so many sacrifices.
Certain night time eating habits sneak into your lifestyle without your knowledge that might play a big spoilsport in your weight loss journey.
Munching in the night. Surely, you wouldn’t have thought of this practice as the reason for your weighty woes, right? But, night time munching is keeping you away from attaining your fitness goals. Let’s understand how this habit is creating havoc with your weight loss.
Ask yourself – Does my dinner look heavier than lunch?
If the answer is a yes, then you need to reduce your portion size at dinner.
The reason is simple:
We are more active in the morning versus the evening. As our activity levels decrease, your body requires fewer calories. With a heavy dinner, you overload the digestive system, which is winding for the day. It will convert all those extra calories into fat.
So, a king-sized dinner results in a ‘fat hangover’, which makes it far worse than the alcohol one.
However, it’s not just the quantity, but also the food choices at night which cause weight gain.
Cream-based gravies or soups, fried food, and desserts are difficult to digest. And as the day progresses, digesting these foods becomes tougher.
With nine calories per gram, fat is the most fattening nutrient, whereas sugar in dessert quadruples the calories.
So, the super-healthy chole bhature, paneer paratha or dal makhni and jeera rice which is otherwise nutritionally balanced meals do not make for an ideal dinner. Eating high-calorie meals at night stands among one of the top reasons you’re struggling with the extra pounds.
Now, do you eat dinner late at night, say around 10:30 -11 pm?
If it’s an affirmative, then you’ll have to change your dinner timing.
The earlier you dine, the better it is because you would be less active late in the night. And less activity with a late dinner is a double whammy for your weight gain.
Staying up late at night increases your chances of munching. It also increases the levels of ghrelin hormone which increases appetite and decreases the levels of leptin hormone aka the satiety hormone.
Late-night television or internet browsing is often associated with snacking on salty, fried or sugary foods. You wouldn’t even possibly realize you’ve finished a packet of chips or an entire brownie while surfing these gadgets. What’s more is that this habit will create havoc with your sleep pattern. And puff goes your weight loss goal.
So, late dinners and sleeping late at night slim down your chances of getting slim. Fixing a regular sleep and early dinner time is the key to a healthier and lighter you.
- Some tips that’ll help you break free of these incorrect night-time eating habits:
- A long interval between lunch and dinner often results in heavy dinner. Grab a wholesome evening snack – grilled sandwich, frankie or idli, sambhar and chutney – to bridge the gap.
- Don’t watch television while eating dinner. Any distraction during meals increases the chance of overeating.
- Drinking alcohol is associated with overeating and bad sleep. So, it’s advisable to stay away from booze if you want a good night’s snooze.
- Try to eat dinner before 9 pm. If that’s not possible, eat a khakhra, roasted makhana or kurmura before you leave from work. Once you reach home, restrict yourself to one chapati/ half a bowl of rice, dal and some vegetable. A light snack before heading back home will keep the portion size in check.
- Most importantly, don’t skip dinner or only eat soups, salads and fruits. Eat a balanced but light dinner. You’ll wake up happy and fresh the next day. It will clear your bowels and possibly help you shed some kilos along the way!
- Stay away from the low-carb and high-protein dinners. As proteins are super difficult to digest, you’ll end up sleeping with a bloated tummy.
- It’s important to keep the frequency of desserts and fried foods in check. Savour them only on special occasions. And if you can’t control the craving, relish it as a mid-morning snack.
- Try to walk 1000 steps or sit in vajrasan for five minutes after dinner instead of immediately lying down on the couch or hitting the bed.
- Skip the night-time craving for tea, hot chocolate or coffee since their caffeine content affects sleep. A cup of warm milk with cardamom or chamomile tea will induce good sleep.
- Small habits after you are done with dinner like brushing your teeth immediately or chewing fennel seeds go a long way to keep your weight in check. Read more about this here.
With a tab on these sneaky habits, we are sure there’s nothing that can keep you away from attaining your weight loss goal.
So, here’s hoping to happy and healthy night-time habits along with a healthier and happier you. 😊
Vishruta is a nutritionist by profession and a writer by heart. Content writing and menu planning have become her passions over the past few years. Love food, love life — is her mantra.