Since time immemorial, we have been hearing this phrase “Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Prince and Dinner like a Pauper”. Though this phrase is very true and most of us may or may not agree to it, the question is, how many of us actually follow it?
I have come across people who eat absolutely minimal or may even skip meals during the day and then wonder why they are not shedding any weight even though they are consuming less calories. The answer lies in their ‘very much elaborate dinners’!
In today’s fast paced and busy lives, it’s become very common that people tend to have very less or almost skip their breakfast as they need to rush to work. Lunch is had at the desk more often than not, either alone or with the colleagues, which may be less enjoyable. At times, due to time constraints, lunch gets compromised. All these factors lead to a limited food intake through the day. Result: Body deprived of energy through the day -> Feels excessively hungry in the latter half of the day -> over eating/ bingeing occurs during dinner. At times, we don’t just feel hungry but we might even ‘crave’ for some junk and thereby succumb to binging on junk food items which then results in fat storage.
For majority of us, dinner is the meal which we look forward to as most of the families consider dinner as an opportunity to catch up with the family members, interact with each other, laugh and have a good time, and dinner perfectly serves the purpose! While we relish various delicacies together and get busy talking to each other, there are high chances of us eating more than we actually want to.
Isn’t this scenario exactly opposite to the saying that we discussed at the top? Oh yes! It is! This is where the root cause of weight gain lies.
You’ll be surprised to know that just getting the dinner correct has helped people get their weight under control. It works like magic! It’s very simple and quite logical. Body has enough time to metabolize the food and shed off the extra calories consumed through the day as our activity levels are at peak during the daytime. As the day ends, our activity levels drop and so does the metabolic rate. Thus, the caloric consumption should ideally taper by the end of the day. However, if we load our body with a huge amount of calories at night, it has higher chances of pushing the calories into fat storage thereby leading to weight gain.
Now how do we tackle this? The very first solution is having a heavy breakfast. If you are running short of time, carry a mid-morning snack with you e.g. A fruit/Nuts/Dry fruits/Yogurt is a good for you. Second most important factor is to have a heavy evening snack by around 5-6 pm. Consuming an evening snack keeps us full, cuts down the junk cravings and thus automatically reduces our intake during dinner. It’s very important to choose the evening snacks wisely. It could be a bowl of sprouts/a whole wheat bread veggie sandwich/boiled corn with chopped veggies and herbs/boiled egg or paneer roll with whole wheat base/a bowl of roasted chanas or nuts. I am sure dishes like these would satiate your hunger and when you would go ahead for your dinner, you wouldn’t be very much hungry.
So your dinner could be – Start with a bowl of mix veggie soup/salad, then move on to a bowl of stir-fried veggies (that covers the carb/fiber component and certain vitamins-minerals) along with a bowl of roasted paneer cubes/sprouts/grilled chicken or fish/boiled eggs (that covers the protein and fat component). In this way, we can ensure a light yet balanced meal covering all the macronutrients along with micros (vitamins-minerals). Ofcourse you can make this meal delicious in your own ways by using various herbs and spices to delight your taste buds.
Remember to keep a gap of 2 to 3 hours between your bed time and this meal to avoid gastric discomfort.
Last but not the least, eat this meal absolutely mindfully, which means, eat slower, take smaller bites, savour every bite and thoroughly enjoy it with your family, making the experience absolutely joyful!