Eat a pile of lacklustre lettuce for dinner, and you’ll find yourself starving (and frustrated!) an hour later. Nobody wants to go to bed hungry… but eat too much and you’ll feel over-full and uncomfortable at bedtime. It’s all about balance, right?
In this article, we’ll share tips on how you can balance out your meals to maximise your weight loss and make better choices to help you feel full and satisfied after dinner. And we’ll answer some of the most common questions around choosing healthy dinner recipes to lose weight.
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Let’s begin with…
There certainly are benefits to eating a lighter dinner. Late night meals that are either heavy or carb-packed are correlated with increased weight. Plus, eating a heavy meal will give you that sluggish feeling the next morning which will mess with your appetite at breakfast.
In general, the later you eat dinner, the lighter it should be, according to many experts. Choosing a lighter option at dinner (especially if you eat dinner late) will help your body digest and break down the food overnight so you sleep better and wake up refreshed and hungry (which is a good thing!). And you’ll lose more weight! One study found that the time you eat your food can have a huge effect (more than doubling) on the amount of weight loss you achieve.
As you may have noticed, some types of foods and ingredients fill up your tummy for longer and break down more slowly. These foods can stop you wanting to eat again soon after a meal, which is perfect for cutting out after-dinner treats, snacks, and desserts. So, when you’re looking for healthy dinner recipes to lose weight, choose ones that have:
Just as importantly, healthy dinner recipes to lose weight should cut back on carbohydrates (especially refined ones) and sugars because these tend to give you a quick burst of energy but break down quickly. That means you’ll have an empty tummy and low energy levels very soon after eating a seemingly big meal. And that’s why you might feel tempted to eat dessert or a sugary snack. Choosing ingredients to satisfy your appetite will set you up for success between dinner and bedtime.
Generally, yes. There are much better times of the day to eat your food to make sure your body uses up the energy and gets all the nutrients it needs. But if you’re REALLY feeling hungry, your schedule is a bit off, and/or your body is telling you to eat… listen to your body. Try to tune in to what’s really going on. If it’s genuine hunger and it can’t wait till morning, eat! Just make sure you eat something healthy and try to set up your schedule and meal plan so that it doesn’t become a regular habit.
Here’s the short answer: you should put the food away around 3 hours before you plan to go to bed.
Why stop eating three hours before bed? Eating right before you go to bed (or worse, in bed!) is a bad idea. Here are just some of the reasons why…
So, stop eating at least 1-2 hours before bed. But ideally, 3-4 hours. That means if you normally go to bed at 10pm, try to make sure dinner finishes between 6-7pm and resist the urge to have supper or snacks before bed.
Want to know more? Read how to stop night time snacking!
First of all, don’t be afraid of hunger. It’s okay to be a little bit hungry when you go to bed.* For many of us, part of losing weight includes getting used to the feeling of being hungry and being okay with it. You may find that after a few nights of pushing through the urge to snack after dinner, you’ll become a lot less tempted to reach for unhealthy foods and after-dinner treats.
*Of course, if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or anticipate a fairly active night with your little one, you’ll need to do what works for you.
But if you are super hungry and you feel like it’ll impact your ability to fall asleep (or whatever else you need to do through the night), it’s okay to have a healthy snack before bed. Ideally, go for a super healthy, light, vegetable-based snacks like carrot or celery sticks, perhaps mixed with some protein like cheese or hummus. If you do eat food later in the night, try to avoid lying down within 2-3 hours after eating, and go for a walk to help your body start digesting the food more quickly.
Ready to make a positive change to your diet? Add these to your healthy meal plan and see if it makes a difference to your appetite after dinner.
If you’re still peckish after sticking to the healthy dinner recipes in your weight loss meal plan (or you need some extra energy to get through a night shift, an all-night breastfeeding baby, or something else), try these healthy weight loss recipes you can eat before bed.
Join The Healthy Mummy’s next 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge and get amazing community support, healthy meal plans, and more healthy dinner recipes. To lose weight, you’ll find our community of healthy mums are just the support you’re looking for. We’ll see you on the inside!