Almost everyone looks back with warmth at memories of some family dinner. Dinners are ideally associated with relaxation, laughter and talk.
The process of laughing and talking over food should technically stretch the meal, giving our brain ample time to send satiety signals. Again, ideally, this should mean saved calories and leaner bodies over time.
The reality, however, is different. In today’s hurried worlds, we rush home from work to errands, events or even kids homework. The calories start building up way before they are consumed. The hurried mindset usually means cutting corners in dinner preparation.
We add fats or fatty meats to add flavor, processed foods to cut cooking times, and heavy starches as comfort food. We may even have skipped meals during the day, and get so hungry that we munch on a snack while waiting for dinner to get to the table. By the time dinner is served, the average meal has doubled or tripled in calories.
As a society, we are also consuming dinner later in the evenings, which means we are not giving our bodies enough time to digest and assimilate the meal. That adds to an automatic increase in fatty stores. Welcome to the land of pear-shaped people!
So what can you do to prevent dinner from destroying your weight loss or weight maintenance plan?
Here are three tips:
- Switch meals - Making breakfast the biggest meal of the day not only gets your diet plan off to the right start, but a balanced breakfast also helps fight disease and reduce cravings through the remainder of the day. It gives you the energy to keep going through the day (with a balanced lunch, of course).
- Plan Ahead – This means taking the time to plan out menus for the week to ensure you don’t have to cut corners and add high-calorie substitutes later.
- Enjoy with Company – Research shows that having a balanced dinner with friends or family on a daily basis prevents obesity as individuals tend to exercise more restraint on eating patterns socially than when eating by themselves. Conversation around the table also means there is more time for your brain to signal, “I’m Full”.
Dr. Michael Allen
Fitness Instructor & Fat Loss Factor Founder