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Why We Need to Eat Larger Breakfasts and Smaller Dinners

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Whether we are diabetic, overweight, or simply want to improve our health and diet, how and when we eat makes a significant difference. Studies have shown that even if we eat the exact same foods and calories, when we eat it in the day affects how our body processes it. Eating larger meals earlier in the day and having light dinners have been shown to help weight loss. An easy way to remember this food ratio is nutritionist Adelle Davis’s adage, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” Those who consume a bulk of their daily caloric intake in the first two meals have improved weight loss results. Our bodies need more fuel throughout the day and burns less calories at night, so eating more in the evening means that food is being stored as fat.

For many of us, dinner has customarily been our largest meal of the day. We are on the go in the morning, and lunch needs to be fitted in to busy work days or errands; whereas dinner falls during the part of the day where we tend to have more free time. Evenings are our leisure time, and we have the luxury to give more time to a large dinner and dessert, followed by wine or warm drinks and snacks on the couch.

Close-up of girl eating popcorn late at nightThere are many factors that can make it challenging to adjust (but it’s doable!). Awareness of what reasons may be at play in your eating habits will help you know how to begin to make lasting changes. Obviously, if it was as simple as knowing information and then doing it, we would already be eating well. Do we eat poorly because of lack of time, energy, help, cooking skills, or budget? Each individual and each family’s personal food culture are influenced by many different areas. Our eating habits are also as emotional as they are physical. In other words, we don’t just eat when we are hungry – we eat more in the evenings because we are tired, bored, stressed or because we want to reward ourselves. Food can be a way to relax and enjoy downtime, so even after a large dinner, people can continue snacking until bedtime for pleasure rather than hunger.

If you are managing your weight, heart health, or diabetes, try making dinner your lightest meal of the day. Avoid evening snacking after dinner. Ideally, we should not be eating within the three hours before we sleep. Not only does it add to our caloric intake for the day, it also raises our blood sugar and makes it more difficult to fall asleep. We’ve certainly gone over some compelling reasons to give this eating style a try!

Here are two ideas to make the shift to eating larger breakfasts and smaller dinners:

1. Start eating bigger breakfasts. This may be easier said than done, but it does help train your body to get used to a change in meal proportions. A larger breakfast will help kick start your metabolism for the day, so that whatever reasons remain for evening overeating, physical hunger will not be one of them. Keep in mind that a larger breakfast can mean a higher caloric intake, so if the idea of consuming a lot of food early in the morning is challenging, start by researching what foods you enjoy that are high in nutrients (eggs, baked sweet potato, or Greek yogurt). Ask yourself what schedule or lifestyle changes need to happen to successfully change your breakfast routine. Do you sleep in and do not have time to eat breakfast? Are you not in the habit of having the proper groceries for breakfast foods?

2. Eat continuously if you cannot eat a big breakfast. Be realistic – some people simply do not have an appetite in the morning, or will not have more time in the morning to make or eat a substantial breakfast. Make things flexible for yourself, especially in the beginning. Try eating small things consistently early in the day: eat nuts or trail mix on your commute to work, snack on fruit while you are checking emails, have soup instead of your mid-morning coffee or add hard-boiled eggs to your lunch salad. As long as you are eating more during the day than at night, you are still accomplishing your goal. Note that what you choose to eat is also important, since it will affect your blood-sugar levels for the day. Trade sugary and carb-heavy pastries for omelettes or whole-wheat oatmeal with fruit and nuts instead. Prepare snacks the night before that you can eat throughout the morning and afternoon and train your body to expect consistent, small meals or snacks. This will keep your metabolism and energy steady, which helps prevent the big sugar spike and consequent drop that

Ultimately, each person has to find the weight management lifestyle that is effective for them. Try this king-to-pauper eating style or experiment with medium sized breakfasts and lunches and small dinners. Let us know how it works for you!

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