Rule 5. Supper
Evening is an important part of our circadian rhythms. A good supper and quality sleep give a complete recovery of our body at night. Evening overeating, nighttime snacks, excess stress, light and stimulation disturb the evening calm, the sleep structure and its duration. A person can sleep as much but recover worse. The worse the sleep is, the worse the metabolism and the work of hunger-satiety system are. The worse the sleep is, the weaker self-control you have. Have an early, moderate and right supper - this is the key to the good sleep and health!
By the example of my patients, I see that evening is a weak point for many people. Why? Because they do not consider stress and twisting of the light regime. This is an example. The deep water and scary looking anglerfish has a fleshy growth from its head - a fishing rod - that glows in dark water. Attracted by light, smaller fish come close and go straight to the mouth of the anglerfish. The same for us, the excess light and stimulation in the evening disrupt our circadian rhythms. They make us think that it is day. They make us stick to the screens and eat plenty and fully in the evening. Do not fall into the trap of light!
Different countries have different traditions. In some countries, supper is early and moderate; in others it is late and quite hearty, which can depend on the daily work and a hot climate. But in general, everywhere we see the attitude to supper as a minor meal (give dinner to your enemy; dine like a pauper etc.). But modern people, which have no food culture, face the evening temptation to eat and often give in.
BREAK: A huge amount of LED radiation with a high proportion of blue spectrum light (mobile phones, computers, tablets, TVs, LED lamps, etc.) disrupt our internal clock. The light of this area of spectrum gives a signal that it is day and aggravates the feeling of hunger.
Circadian hyperphagia (overeating). The issue of evening meals is closely related to the work of our circadian biorhythms. A huge amount of LED radiation with a high proportion of blue spectrum light (mobile phones, computers, tablets, TVs, LED lamps, etc.) disrupt our internal clock. The light of this area of spectrum gives a signal that it is day and aggravates the feeling of hunger.
Hyperphagia and stress epidemic. Chronic stress is becoming common. If acute stress dulls appetite more often, then chronic stress, on the contrary, increases appetite due to the higher production of ghrelin. Fatigue and hunger combined with stress get higher in the evening, which leads to overeating. Moreover, ghrelin stimulates the central nervous system, so people have to eat to fall asleep, using food as sleeping pills. The abuse of caffeine and alcohol also exacerbates the eating disorders.
Hedonic hyperphagia (the wish to eat to have pleasure without real need of calories). In addition to stress, the contentment deficit disorder occur when people can’t be content and at peace with their life. Such people eat because they are bored, sad, feeling lonely and low-spirited, and they choose the most high-calorie combinations of starchy, fatty, fried, sweet or salty foods, etc.
BREAK: People snacking at night have the impaired work of biological rhythms and many hormones, as well as impaired metabolism. The more and the more often people eat late, the more pronounced symptoms and sleep disturbances they have.
Workload. The intensive workload, absence of a full breakfast and time for lunch lead to the intense physiological hunger in the evening and overeating. Long periods without food in the mornings and afternoons lead to the increased production of cortisol, which increases stress more.
People snacking at night have the impaired work of biological rhythms and many hormones, as well as impaired metabolism. The more and the more often people eat late, the more pronounced symptoms and sleep disturbances they have. Late suppers and night snacks lead to obesity, the risk of type 2 diabetes, and the psychological problems. Studies have confirmed that increased appetite at night is associated with depression or latent depression, emotional tension, and anxiety.
A number of negative effects of late meals are discussed in the previous chapter. We note that existing studies do not always give an unambiguous answer. In fact, if we consider the number of calories consumed (though it is not easy in the long run), then the effect of supper on the body structure is not so great. So, in the conditions of a slight calorie deficit, nutrition in the mornings and evenings for 12 weeks did not affect the level of fat. But more research found a link between a late bountiful supper and obesity.
The dietary regimen is associated with inflammation in adipose tissue. Eating at night, compared to eating during the day, activates macrophage immune cells and causes a greater inflammatory response in adipose tissue. Eating before sleep makes heartburn seven times more probable, compared with those who finish eating three hours before bedtime. The studies showed that late meals reduce learning ability and lead to the impaired work of hippocampus.
Other problems exist. So, the risk of developing coronary heart disease is 55% higher for those who eat late at night. Interestingly, the risk of developing hormonal disorders, including breast cancer and prostate cancer, is also associated with late meals. The risk of developing breast cancer is reduced by 16%, and prostate cancer by 26% for those who have supper at least two hours before bedtime.
Syndrome of night food. An extreme violation of food biorhythms is night eating syndrome. Its main symptoms are: frequent (more than twice a week) episodes of eating late in the evening or at night, for which more than 25% of the daily amount of calories is consumed; periodic (more than four times a week) lack of appetite in the morning; feeling of guilt and shame because of eating; reduced quality of life. This disorder requires the psychotherapeutic consultation and work to normalize the biorhythms. Just willpower is not enough to get rid of it. The night eating syndrome is dangerous for people with normal weight as well, because it affects the quality of sleep. The greater the amount of calories you consume in the evening and at night proportional to the daily amount, the higher your risk of obesity.
Have early, moderate and healthy supper. Remember that breakfast affects sleep the same as the next breakfast depends on supper. An early and moderate supper is a guarantee of an easy awakening and appetite next morning. The scientists have found that foods with a low glycemic index for supper stabilize blood sugar for the next day!
Have supper at least 3-4 hours before bedtime. Supper must make up from 20 to 30% of the daily calorie intake. You can eat the medium-starchy and low-starchy vegetables and greens, healthy fats: butter, olive oil, coconut oil. The portion can be big. And do not forget to eat raw vegetables! Limit the use of cereals, farinaceous products, convenience foods, and large amounts of protein foods.
BREAK: Give preference to foods containing more fiber: vegetables and greens. Refined carbohydrates increase the risk of insomnia, but fiber for supper can prolong the phase of slow sleep!
Early supper. Early supper helps to increase the eating pause and additionally insensibly reduces the number of calories consumed. The scientists have found that with the restriction of eating from 7 pm to 6 am and without counting calories, healthy people eat 240 kcal less per day on average! And this in the long run gives a noticeable weight loss! Early supper promotes the production of growth hormone, more 70% of which is excreted at night. Growth hormone stimulates muscle growth and fat burning. Eating at night, in its turn, promotes the release of insulin, which reduces the level of growth hormone.
Carbohydrates. Despite the fact that carbohydrates can give pleasant sleepiness, you should not eat starchy foods for supper; you should limit the amount of farinaceous dishes and sweets. Give preference to foods containing more fiber: vegetables and greens. Refined carbohydrates increase the risk of insomnia, but fiber for supper can prolong the phase of slow sleep! Therefore, a complex salad is a great solution! Scientific studies show that sugar for dinner makes the episodes of micro-awakening during the night more frequent, which significantly reduces the quality of sleep.
Fats. Fats are also an important part of supper but only combined with fiber. Fats do not cause insulin rise, stimulate the release of the hormone cholecystokinin, which helps to feel full. Give preference to coconut oil, butter, olive oil. Even a piece of pig fat is good. So don’t be afraid to dress a salad with oil but keep a sense of balance.
BREAK: People feeling anxious and having problems with falling asleep should avoid plenty of protein foods. But for those who go to gym and sleep soundly, or work late, proteins for supper can also be a good option.
Proteins. The issue of protein products for supper is not entirely unambiguous and should be considered individually. On the one hand, proteins increase activity and stimulate the nervous system, which is not very good for sleep. People feeling anxious and having problems with falling asleep should avoid plenty of protein foods. On the other hand, proteins perfectly satisfy hunger and keep up satiety for a long time. Therefore, for those who go to gym and sleep soundly, or work late, proteins for supper can also be a good option.
Evening lighting. To let the circadian rhythms work properly, the light in the house must coincide in spectrum with the sunset light: be yellow, diffused, and dim. To do this, in the evening you have to turn on the incandescent lamps that have the needed spectrum, but not LED lamps. But even more of the LED light comes from smartphones, laptops, and TVs. There are ways to change this. You can install programs like f.lux, twilight1, or use the night shift function (blue light filter). But the best idea would be to buy special glasses that block the blue part of the spectrum.
Temperature in the evening. Temperature is also an important signal for our body. The temperature of our surroundings should decrease from about 19.00. Everything that prevents us from cooling down will prevent us from relaxing and falling asleep. Therefore, such tips as taking a walk before bedtime, ventilating the bedroom, and decrease of heating work great.
Stress in the evening. Evening stress is a common cause of loss of control of eating behavior and overeating. Under stress, we have a craving for fatty, sweet and salty food. This is part of the defensive reaction, because our body perceives stress as physical activity (flight or fight response), therefore it makes us to replenish the calorie content. Anti-stress techniques perfectly reduce appetite and promote deeper sleep: muscle relaxation, keeping a diary, deep rhythmic breathing, using a needled massage mat, free writing2, and yoga. All this helps to improve our well-being and reduce stress, and so, appetite. All procedures for the body increase the production of the anti-stress hormone oxytocin: water procedures, massage, rubbing, sauna, self-massage, etc.
Caffeine. Not only coffee, but also tea, other drinks, bars and medicines contain caffeine. Its average half-life is 4-5 hours, but the effect can be longer, for all eight hours. Therefore, if you want to avoid the effect of caffeine on sleep, do not drink coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks after 12.00-14.00. Scientists have found that caffeine shifts biorhythms to a later time and reduces the time of slow sleep. Excessive consumption of caffeine leads to sleep disturbance and morning fatigue. There are people who are genetically very sensitive to caffeine; for them it causes anxiety and exacerbates neurosis. For such people, caffeine restriction will have a very positive effect on health.
1 - the applications that adjust the color temperature of a computer monitor by the geographical location and time of day specified by the user.
BREAK:The average half-life of caffeine is 4-5 hours, but its effect can be longer, for all eight hours. Therefore, if you want to avoid the effect of caffeine on sleep, do not drink coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks after 12.00-14.00.
Alcohol. Alcohol is a very high-calorie product. Although alcohol accelerates the process of falling asleep, it also reduces the quality of sleep, especially in the second half of the night, increases snoring, causes dehydration, and can cause insomnia with frequent use. Go to bed sober.
No convenience foods or ready meals. They contain large amounts of sugar, salt and flavor enhancers. Salted foods for dinner will cause fluid retention and make you look worse in the morning.
Less tyramine. Do not eat foods that contain a lot of biogenic amines, such as tyramine, for supper. They increase the secretion of adrenaline and worsen sleep. Tyramine is found in chocolate, wine, sauces, cheese and in some protein and dairy semi-finished products.
Pleasure in the evening. Plan some pleasant activity for your evening out in advance and have it even if you are reluctant to do it. This principle is the base of the method of behavioral activation, which is very effective in depression. Your hobby, the communication with family and friends, any other noncaloric pleasure will help. When we get tired, we can refuse to communicate and to do something valuable for us.. But when the brain is deprived of emotional nourishment, it searches for other ways to fill its deficit and finds it in food! I see often that evening hunger frequently has emotional roots.
Forced supper. Often people have to dine late when there is no way to eat fully and calmly at work. This is not an ideal regimen, but do not frighten yourself with horror stories that the food will rot in the intestine at night, etc. The body gradually adapts and food is digested normally. Horror stories that the stomach and intestine do not work at night are incorrect: their function is slightly reduced, but not critically. And they can adapt to your rhythm of life.