Rule 5. Supper
Rule 5. Supper
The evening is an important part of our circadian rhythms. A good supper and quality sleep allow a complete body recovery at night. Evening overeating, night-time snacks, excess stress, light and stimulation disturb the evening calm, sleep structure, and duration. A person can sleep as much but the recovery is worse. The worse the sleep is, the worse the metabolism and the work of the hunger-satiety system are. The worse the sleep is, the less self-control you have. Have an early, moderate and healthy supper which is the key to good health and a night of good sleep!
From my patients’ experience, the evening is a weak point for many people. Why? Because they do not consider their stress and the use of artificial light. This is an example. In the deep water, the scary-looking anglerfish has a fleshy growth from its head, like a fishing rod that glows in dark water. Attracted by this light, smaller fish come close and go straight to the mouth of the anglerfish. It’s the same for us, the excess light and stimulation in the evening disrupt our circadian rhythms. They make us think it is a day. They make us stare at screens and eat more in the evening. Do not fall into this light trap!
How did the problem arise?
Different countries have different traditions. In some countries, supper is early and moderate; in others, it is late and hearty, which can depend on the type of work and climate. But everywhere there is an attitude that supper is a minor meal (give dinner to your enemy; dine like a pauper, etc.). Modern people who lack traditional food culture, face the evening temptation to eat and often give in.
A vast 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 these gadgets give out signals it is day and increases the feeling of hunger.
Circadian hyperphagia (overeating). Evening meals are closely related to the work of our circadian biorhythms. A considerable 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 these gadgets give out signals it is day and increases 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, leadingto 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 for calories). In addition to stress, contentment deficit disorder occurs when people can’t be content and at peace with their lives. Such people eat because they are bored, sad, lonely, and depressed. They choose the most high-calorie combinations of starchy, fatty, fried, sweet or salty foods.
People snacking at night disrupt the work of biological rhythms, many hormones, as well as metabolism. The more often people eat late, the more pronounced their symptoms and the sleep disturbances they have.
Workload. The intensive workload, the absence of a full breakfast and no time for lunch lead to 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.
People snacking at night disrupt the work of biological rhythms, many hormones, as well as metabolism. The more often people eat late, the more pronounced their symptoms and the sleep disturbances they have. Late suppers and night snacks lead to obesity, the risk of type 2 diabetes, and psychological problems. Studies have shown that increased appetite at night is associated with depression or latent depression, emotional tension and anxiety.
How does it affect health?
Several negative effects of late meals were discussed in the previous chapter. We note that existing studies do not always give an unambiguous answer. If we consider the number of calories consumed (though this is difficult), then the effect of supper on the body structure is not great. Some studies show that in the conditions of fewer calories, nutrition in the mornings and evenings for 12 weeks did not affect the fat level. But further research established a link between a late, large supper and obesity.
The dietary regimen is associated with inflammation in adipose tissue. Compared to eating during the day, eating at night activates macrophage immune cells and causes a greater inflammatory response in adipose tissue. Eating before sleep makes heartburn seven times more likely than those who finish eating three hours before bedtime. The studies show that late meals reduce the ability to learn and lead to impaired hippocampus work.
Other problems exist. The risk of developing coronary heart disease is 55 percent higher for those who eat late at night. Interestingly, the risk of developing hormonal disorders, including breast and prostate cancer, is also associated with late meals. The risk of developing breast cancer is reduced by 16 percent, and prostate cancer by 26 percent for those who have supper at least two hours before bedtime.
Syndrome of night eating. 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 percent of the daily number of calories is consumed, and periodic (more than four times a week) lack of appetite in the morning, resulting in a feeling of guilt and shame because of eating and reduced quality of life. This disorder requires psychotherapeutic consultation and work to normalize the biorhythms. Just willpower is not enough to get rid of it. The night eating syndrome is also dangerous for people with normal weight because it affects the quality of sleep. The greater the number of calories you consume in the evening and at night, proportional to the daily amount, the higher your risk of obesity.
Have an early, moderate and healthy supper. Remember that breakfast affects sleep the same as the next breakfast depending on supper. An early and moderate supper guarantees an easy awakening and appetite the next morning. 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 20 to 30 percent of the daily calorie intake. You can eat medium-starchy and low-starchy vegetables, greens, and healthy fats like butter, olive oil, andcoconut oil. The portion can be enormous. Do not forget to eat raw vegetables! Limit the use of cereals, farinaceous products, convenience foods and large amounts of protein foods.
Give preference to foods containing more fiber like 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 unknowingly reduces the number of calories consumed. Scientists found that with restricting eating from 1900 to 0600 and without counting calories, healthy people ate 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 than 70 percent of which is excreted at night. Growth hormone stimulates muscle growth and fat burning. In contrast, eating at night promotes insulin release, reducing growth hormone levels.
Carbohydrates. Even though carbohydrates can give pleasant sleepiness, you should not eat starchy foods for supper; you should limit the number of farinaceous dishes and sweets. Give preference to foods containing more fiber like 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 supper increases episodes of micro-awakening during the night, significantly reducing sleep quality.
Fats. Fats are also an essential part of supper but only combined with fiber. Fats do not cause insulin rise and stimulate the release of the hormone cholecystokinin, which helps to feel full. Give preference to coconut oil, butter, and 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.
People feeling anxious and having problems falling asleep should avoid plenty of protein foods. But for those who go to the 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 falling asleep should avoid plenty of protein foods. On the other hand, proteins satisfy hunger and keep satiety for a long time. Therefore, for those who go to the gym and sleep soundly, or work late, proteins for supper are also a good option.
How to follow the rule? Ideas and tips.
Evening lighting. To let the circadian rhythms work correctly, the light in the house must coincide with changes in the sunset, so they need to be yellow, diffused and dim. To do this, in the evening you have to turn on the incandescent lamps that have the necessary spectrum but not LED lamps. Even more LED light is emitted from smartphones, laptops and TVs. There are ways to change this. You can install programs like f.lux, twilight, or use the night shift function (blue light filter). Another idea would be to buy special glasses blocking the spectrum’s blue part.
The temperature in the evening. Temperature is also an important signal for our body. The temperature of our surroundings should decrease from about 1900. 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 decreasing heating work well.
Stress in the evening. Evening stress is a common cause of losing control of eating behavior and overeating. Under stress, we crave fatty, sweet, and salty foods. This is part of a defensive reaction because our body perceives stress as a physical activity (flight or fight response), therefore it makes us replenish the calorie content. Anti-stress techniques help reduce appetite and promote deeper sleep, such as muscle relaxation, keeping a diary, deep rhythmic breathing, using a needled massage mat, free writing and yoga. All this helps to improve our well-being, reduce stress, and therefore appetite. Treatments for the body like water procedures, massage, rubbing, sauna, and self-massage increase the production of the anti-stress hormone oxytocin.
Caffeine is not only found in coffee but also tea and other drinks, bars and medicines. Its average half-life is 4–5 hours, but the effect can be longer, for a total of eight hours. Therefore, if you want to avoid the impact of caffeine on sleep, do not drink coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks after 1200–1400. Scientists 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. Some people aregenetically very sensitive to caffeine; for them, it causes anxiety and exacerbates neurosis. For such people, caffeine restriction will have a very positive effect on their health.
The average half-life of caffeine is 4–5 hours, but the effect can be longer, for a full eight hours. Therefore, if you want to avoid the effect of caffeine on sleep, do not drink coffee, tea, and other caffeinated drinks after 1200–1400.
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 ultra-processed foods or ready meals. They contain large amounts of sugar, salt, and flavor enhancers. Salty foods for dinner will cause fluid retention and make you feel 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 semi-finished dairy products.
Pleasure in the evening. Plan some pleasant activities for your evening out in advance and do them even if you are reluctant. This principle is the base of the method of behavioral activation, which is very effective in depression. Your hobby, communication with family and friends, and any other noncaloric pleasure will help. When we get tired, we can refuse to communicate and choose not to do stuff that’s good for us. When the brain is deprived of emotional nourishment, it searches for other ways to fill its deficit and finds it in food! I often see 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. The body gradually adapts and food is digested normally. Horror stories about the stomach and intestine not working at night are incorrect. Their function is slightly reduced, but not critically, and they can adapt to your rhythm of life.
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