Is Evening Eating Destroying Your Weight Loss Efforts?

Do you eat what you think is a balanced breakfast, mid-morning snack, and healthy lunch with co-workers and then come home in the evening and go on a feeding frenzy? You feel in control, everything is going fine – until you come home at night, starving and eat a large dinner, say yes to dessert (and seconds) and finish off a bag of chips before bed. LindaRD is working closely with many clients from Alamo Ca, Danville Ca, Lafayette CA, Orinda CA and Walnut Creek CA. She also is working with many clients from the surrounding cities such as Alameda, Piedmont, Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Jose and Sacramento.

From a metabolic standpoint, there is really no reason not to eat food in the evening. A calorie is a calorie regardless of when it is consumed. A morning calorie is metabolized in basically the same way as an evening calorie. However, eating in the evening is a problem for many, not because of the way food is metabolized, but because of the quantity of food that is consumed.

Skipping meals is a major culprit of overeating at night. Recent studies reveal that when people ate three meals a day only 13% binged at night. When people skipped breakfast, 24% binged and when people skipped breakfast and lunch, 60% binged. In general, people who spread their meals evenly throughout the day seem to be better able to control their eating. They are less likely to feel hungry and less likely to overeat. So by eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner and planning snacks in between, you can help yourself lose weight as well as maintain better control of your eating throughout the day and night.

For most people, the evening is “down-time,” used to relax, watch television, and unwind from the stresses of the day. Others view this as a time to multi-task and catch up on household chores, bills, homework, and other responsibilities. Whether you’re winding down or working on your to-do list, unconscious eating can accompany your routine and result in a massive calorie intake. Devouring a bag of chips, a sleeve of cookies, or a pint of ice cream can easily occur when your mind is somewhere else.

Sleep deprivation is also major source of excessive weight. Research strongly suggests a connection between obesity and lack of adequate sleep. Statistics show that overweight individuals sleep about 1.8 hours less a week than people of normal weight. Since the 1960′s sleep duration for American adults has dropped by as much as two hours a night, while obesity has drastically increased. Late night binging and sleep deprivation feed on each other – late night binging often creates indigestion and lack of sleep which, in turn, leads to overeating in subsequent days.

The chemical link between lack of sleep and obesity lies in the fact that sleep is a regulator of two hormones that effect appetite, leptin and ghrelin. Leptin helps suppress food intake and stimulates energy expenditure, while ghrelin stimulates appetite, fat production, and body growth. When one is sleep deprived, the level of leptin drops and ghrelin increases. The result is a drastic increase in hunger. One study reported a 24% increase in hunger, with cravings for such items as cookies, candy and cake when there is inadequate sleep time.

I have found in my practice many helpful ways of reducing late night overeating.

  1. After examining my clients eating patterns I compute what percent of their calories are consumed after 6 PM and if the answer is one third or more there is a problem.
  2. We often discuss the need to normalize their sleeping patterns. For example, if they are home in the afternoon I suggest a nap if they are having a craving and know they are not hungry. Taking a nap is “low calorie” and the craving will definitely go away because it only last for minutes.
  3. I establish a meal plan that includes their favorite foods with meals that are balanced. I show them how their best friend is protein and fiber for every meal which prevents cravings. I teach them how to read food labels for the important nutrition facts. I give them a list of snacks that are portable for the office or in the car when commuting. After dinner I allow them 200 calories of snacks that are low in fat and yummy such as a low fat ice cream sandwich, a bowl of cereal, or even a few oreo cookies.
  4. We also explore what activities at night tend to trigger their overeating and develop strategies for changing them. I suggest at nite that my clients micromanage their time with non food related activities such as going on-line, taking a bath, working on a hobby or even cleaning out the closets. Watching TV all evening it sets you up to want to snack, especially with all the food commercials.
  5. I inform them of the critical importance of exercise where if practiced they are more relaxed at night and do not get caught up in mindless eating.

LindaRD meets with all of her clients for the initial consultation from the surrounding towns of Alamo, such as Danville CA, Lafayette CA, Orinda CA and Walnut Creek CA. Most often LindaRD will continue to counsel her clients thru phone, e-mail or Skype. She is also working with many clients from Piedmont to Oakland and Alameda in this same arrangement.

I am glad to inform you that heath insurance is now paying for nutritional counseling. Call me and I will tell you the details. Please visit www. LindaRD.com for more information on services or call (925) 855-0150.

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