So, what should your last meal of the day contain? Mapson recommends protein such as meat, fish, eggs or tofu. “This helps you feel full longer.” They should also contain a small amount of carbohydrates, such as starch, vegetables, potatoes, quinoa or rice, because studies have shown that they help to induce better sleep if they go four hours before bedtime. “Eat low-energy foods like green leafy vegetables and fruit, as the fiber helps you feel fuller for longer.”
However, she says, if it’s 9 p.m. and you start feeling hungry again, it’s a sign of two possible things: “that you haven’t eaten enough, or you’re misinterpreting your body’s internal hunger signals.”
Make sure “you’re eating enough protein throughout the day,” says Mapson. “If you haven’t fueled yourself well, your body will still be crying out for energy at night. Increase your breakfast and lunch until you get good levels of healthy fats, at least 50g of protein and around 25-30g of fiber per day. “
Healthy, appetizing meals include stir-fry chicken or prawns with brown rice, or a piece of fish, baked potato and plenty of vegetables. Breakfast can include an omelette with vegetables or meat, or porridge with nuts and seeds, topped with high-protein yoghurt.
It’s important to check whether your hunger is actual physical hunger or just boredom or ordinary hunger, says Mapson. “Sometimes we eat because we normally eat at that time, and it’s not a physical need for food.” But, even starving is not good either. Mapson recommends a snack like yogurt with berries, or nut butter on toast to keep you going.
A walk after dinner will help you digest your food and encourage glucose to be absorbed by your skeletal muscles. “This helps with cravings and to prevent snacking in front of the TV.”
If you are overweight to lose, you may also be misinterpreting your body’s internal hunger signals. Give your body a chance to adjust to a longer evening fast. Drink a nightly infusion before bed instead of reaching for the cookies. Also, distraction can work if you think that your pain is not real. “Take up a craft, or get your nails done, anything that keeps your hands busy,” says Mapson.
But most importantly, don’t blame yourself if 5pm isn’t possible, says Mapson. “Yes, there are some benefits of eating earlier, what’s more important is that your eating habits fit your lifestyle.”