Do you have ‘Portion Distortion’?
Many people eat more than half of their daily calories after 4pm. I liken it to the movie ‘Gremlins.’ During the day, you’re hunger is like a cute little Mogwai, easy to tame and keep under control. But once the sun starts to set, boom – out comes your inner Gremlin and Whoosh, you’ve inhaled over half your daily calories and looking for more.
The hormone Ghrelin, is your inner Gremlin
Our hunger hormone has the name Ghrelin (Coincidence – I think not!). It’s what stimulates your appetite, giving you the rumbly tummy before a meal, and it tends to be very time based. It’s almost like an internal clock that says ‘Well you ate at this time yesterday, so it must be time to eat again!’ It’s also a greedy little bugger, and the more you feed it the more it wants. In fact if you feed it high fat, calorie dense meals, it actually craves more.
If you skip breakfast – be warned!
How to break the cycle
To get started, focus on your three main meals and eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. You can only have two snacks during the day – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. And try to avoid staying up too late, as when the midnight munchies come around, we can’t resist as our willpower is at its weakest when we’re tired.
Here’s a good dietary schedule to stick to:
- Breakfast – 8am
- Snack – 11am
- Lunch – 1:30pm
- Snack (high protein) – 4:30pm
- Dinner – before 8pm
Use a food diary to keep track of what you eat and make sure you keep high salt and high fat foods to a minimum to help ward off cravings. Get your portions right with salads, soups and healthy snacks.
Soups are a great option for portion controlled lunches and dinners. One big cooking effort creates multiple servings, making it cost effective and perfect for when you’re busy. Soups are nutritious and delicious and it has actually been proven that they keep you fuller for longer. Most soups are low in calories so having a piece of bread is fine if you’re maintaining your current weight. However, if you’re trying to lose weight, bread is not recommended.
TIP: Keep satchels of miso soup on hand for a quick and easy snack.
When putting a salad together, stick to two heavy ingredients. A heavy ingredient is meat, cheese, avocado, nuts or oil. That way, you won’t be weighing your salad down with foods that are high in calories.
Great ingredients for salads:
- Capsicums are high in vitamin C and you can roast them in the oven.
- Legumes to make you feel fuller and increase your protein count.
- Chickpeas, lentils and tuna in tins so you can always have them handy.
- Seaweed and baby spinach for their high iron count.
- Chia Seeds are high in Omega 3 and a great antioxidant.
- Quinoa for high iron, protein and fiber.
Don’t be afraid to combine ingredients like this delicious beetroot and chickpea salad recipe.
TIP: Mix ¼ lemon, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and some cracked pepper into small bowl and drizzle over your salad for extra zing.
- Carrot sticks or capsicum dipped in hummus.
- Celery sticks filled with low fat ricotta or cottage cheese, sprinkled with Goji berries or currents.
- 1/3 cup of low-fat yogurt with fruit and nutmeg.
- Roasted chickpeas (Chic Nuts) or fava beans.
- Fresh fruit and nuts.
- Tins of tuna mixed with lemon and cracked pepper, spread on rice cakes or whole wheat crackers.
- Protein shake using 1 scoop of protein powder, ½ cup of milk (almond, soy or rice) frozen raspberries and nutmeg or cinnamon.
- 1/3 cup of low fat yogurt, half a banana, berries and a sprinkling of nutmeg.
- Strawberries or any fruit dipped in Greek style unsweetened yogurt.
- Jarra hot chocolate in water . Mmmm – filling and yummy.
TIP: When buying fresh juice, go by my motto – two root and 1 fruit! I.e. choose 2 roots (such as beetroot or carrot) and 1 fruit (fruit has more fructose).