THE BEST OF DINNER- JAMIE FARRELL
THE BEST OF DINNER- JAMIE FARRELL
Whether eating late, skipping it altogether or grabbing whatever is on route home, nobody really has time for dinner anymore.
Dinner is traditional for some, you would sit at the dinner table eat your food and engage in conversation allowing some time for digestion. Now seeing adults eating cereal at gone 21:00 or having whatever food has been discounted at a store on route home is the more common site. “It’s too late, being too busy or I’m not hungry” are usually the reasons for these choices.
Having appetite levels fluctuate could mean that something nutritionally or lifestyle based is sub optimal in your day. If your car had troubles you would notice the warning light come up and fix it, your body is doing the same except signals aren’t coming from a dashboard they’re coming from your brain.
So what can you eat for dinner that is preferable? In my opinion, the answer just like most in nutrition and fitness should be is, it depends. Individual body demands and daily activity levels will influence what is a preferable choice for you to eat.
According to some studies, foods like fish, eggs and yoghurt are digested easier than foods like red meat due to the time the stomach takes to break tougher textured foods down. Individual digestive health will vary though, so studies don’t always represent you as an individual, with intolerances becoming more common now.
Processed foods or foods that take a long time to rot usually contain less digestive enzymes than “natural” foods. Types of processed food can sometimes also be lacking in micro/macro nutrients, giving essentially empty calories. So just like breakfast and dinner it would appear opting for fresh nutrient rich foods based around your macro/micro nutrient needs seem to be better choices. Basing dinner around a protein source along with plenty of vegetables/salad and a carbohydrate source.
It’s easy to get caught up with diet ideas like no carbs past 20:00 or don’t eat at all past 18:00. In my opinion there are way to many variables per person to make general assumptions like that. Carbs are fuel for our bodies and when we sleep we will need energy for biological processes like cellular repair etc. So try any theories out yourself before forming an opinion on something.
People are great at making rules up when it comes to eating, another popular theory seems to be “I’ll have a big lunch because I’m not eating dinner tonight”. The culprits guilty of this are often the same ones seen not eating to try and loose weight. Just like I explained in my previous blog, skipping meals can for the majority produce counter productive effects. It can disrupt neurotransmitter signals and encourage hunger. Hunger causes the release of hormones like ghrelin, which if ignored will signal for the body to make metabolic adaptions, potentially resulting in the storage of body fat.
Also assuming your bed time is around 22:30 and that you are having sufficient meals throughout the day, having dinner before 20:00 can be beneficial for some, as around 20:00 your body should start producing hormones like melatonin that prepare you for sleep. Post 20:00 is also when I find most people tend to get sugary cravings of hunger, this can be brought about by blood sugar instability.
The body will seek an immediate source of fuel, usually in the form of a quick fix of glucose (blood sugar) hence why you crave these sugary foods. Having efficient meals during the day will help control these cravings. Ignoring any signals your body is sending by going to bed on an empty stomach, can keep the bodies stress response high and the body full of cortisol, potentially disrupting sleep as this hormone will keep you alert. Sleep is a time for repair so denying it any fuel in the form of food can result in muscle loss or appetite disruption the following day.
Headaches, stomach problems, mood swings, fatigue, low blood sugar, stress induced hyper vigilance, cognitive issues, sleep disruption, illness, anxiety and bad breath are just some signs that can all be brought on by insufficient/lack of nutrition. I’m sure people are not intentionally doing this, it’s all a ripple effect of our busy lifestyles.
Finding practical options, like preparing food in advance will hopefully help to deal with this growing problem and encourage better choices. Whilst time may for now, not allow you to eat well or get adequate sleep and you appear “fine the way you are”, it’s important to realise that your body is great at adaption and will adopt necessary physiological changes to keep your body in homeostasis (stable internal environment). However, if you make suboptimal choices regularly, you will put yourself at a higher risk of developing health issues like diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, reproductive issues and cancer. These have all been linked to poor nutrition and once these illnesses present themselves, you no longer have to worry about finding time for your health, they will make the time for you.