It's the daily danger zone when we undo all the good work of the day. This is how to avoid the most common mistakes
For many of us, a day of healthy eating is quickly undone when we arrive home from work, exhausted, unmotivated and with low blood glucose levels.
The first thing we grab is a glass of wine or a beer, followed by crackers, dip and anything else we get our hands on, before retiring in front of the couch with our favourite food delivery order or packet of sweet treats to round out the day. Sound familiar?
Our evening food routine is just as important as the routine we try to follow through the morning, if not more so. The reason is that we are more likely to be storing the calories we consume at night — a result of hormonal shifts in the second half of the day and of our tendency to sit and not do very much once we return home.
Here are some simple steps to ensure your evenings are as conducive to weight loss as the first half of your day.
Create a get home habit
We have all been there — you walk in the door so desperately hungry that you grab the first thing you see, eating it all, ruining your dinner and feeling guilty that you have demolished an entire packet of rice crackers and French onion dip.
One of the most powerful commitments you can make when it comes to your nutrition is to build positive health habits — things we do without thinking about so they become part our daily lives. As the period before dinner is a risky time for many of us, swapping the wine, crackers and dip for a glass of sparkling water and cut up vegetables when we first arrive home is an easy way to fill your tummy with the right thing and support weight loss rather than weight gain.
Know your go-to meals
We get caught out with our nutrition when we arrive home and do not know what to cook for dinner. This means we often order in food, consuming many more calories than we would if we prepared something ourselves.
Ideally, busy people would prepare their meals in advance, but if this fails knowing two or three quick and easy, low-calorie meals is the key to weight-loss success.
Good options include a salad served with lamb strips, grilled chicken breast or tuna; a vegetable omelette; or a barbecue chicken and some cooked frozen vegetables. These are all five-minute meals that are actually good for you.
Have a food cut-off
Much of the damage that we do to ourselves each evening has to do with the treats we indulge in while watching Netflix — the chocolate biscuits, tubs of ice cream and chocolate that quickly becomes a daily habit rather than an occasional indulgence.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying a small treat each night but it is when a small treat becomes an entire packet that we have an issue. One of the easiest ways you can control your calorie intake after dinner is to have a food cut-off time. Set a time, 8pm or 9pm, when you will actually stop eating completely and this will naturally control your calorie intake.
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Go for the mints
Changing the taste in your mouth is one of the easiest ways to curb your cravings for sugar each night. Once you have finished your evening meal and perhaps your glass of wine or sweet treat, brush your teeth, chew some gum or enjoy a cup of herbal tea. This will again signal the end of the day's eating.
Sitting around for several hours after eating a relatively large meal at the end of the day is the worst thing you can do for digestion and metabolism. The more you can stand up and move, even incidentally, around your home, the better it will be for weight control.
This means getting up each ad break and doing a job, going for a walk now the days are longer, or at least standing up briefly every hour to burn a few calories and to help aid digestion.