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April 7, 2021

The time of day you are most likely to overeat

Filed under: Fitness — Tags: — admin @ 3:04 am

Should yummy food be on offer, and those around us are indulging, even if we are not hungry it is extremely easy to overeat.

Humans are not overly good at stopping eating, even when they have had enough, and yet even a slight hunger pang can see us running for the fridge. In saying that, there are distinct periods of day in which our physiological drive to eat may be more pronounced than usual, when habitual overeating is more likely to occur.

So, if you find yourself uncomfortable from eating too much on a regular basis, these are the times of day that overeating is more likely to occur…

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A couple of hours after lunch

It may be the result of boredom, or a lunch that is not nutritionally balanced, but it is not uncommon to experience sugar cravings an hour or two after lunch. Physiologically this can be explained by a drop in blood glucose levels that can occur when a carb-rich lunch is consumed, especially one that is lacking in protein and or vegetable bulk. As such, the easiest way to control this is to ensure that your lunch choice is nutritionally balanced — with a mix of lean protein, low-GI carbs such as wholegrain bread or crackers and at least 2-3 cups of salad or vegetables.

Take control: keep a supply of low-calorie sweet foods on hand to deal with this craving — berries, a piccolo or a couple of crackers with nut spread. Or add in a small sweet treat such as a few choc-coated nuts or squares of dark chocolate and enjoy with a warm drink to signify the end of eating until it is time for afternoon tea.

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

When you get home from work

Perhaps the most dangerous time when it comes to a potential calorie overload, is the time when we arrive home late afternoon, starving and alone with a container of hommus and a packet of rice crackers. Physiologically it is normal to be hungry at this time of day; it has been several hours since our last substantial meal, blood glucose levels are low and it is time for dinner. The issue with snacking on high calorie crackers, chips and dips at this time is that often more calories than an entire meal are consumed, which inevitably results in overeating in the second half of the day.

Take control: factor in a protein-rich snack such as portion controlled cheese and crackers, a nut or protein bar or cottage cheese and fruit an hour or two before you leave work to take the edge off your hunger. Then keep a supply of low calorie yet nutritious snacks such as veggie sticks to munch on while you prepare dinner. Most importantly keep any tempting chips, crackers and dips out of the house.

After dinner watching TV

Whether you opt for chocolate or biscuits or ice-cream, or all three, munching on high calorie treats after dinner is a food habit many of us are guilty of. Rarely this habit is hunger driven, rather it is a bad habit that evolves over time as we seek out comfort and food reward after a long and often stressful day. If this snacking translated into a row of chocolate or a biscuit with a cup of tea there would be no cause for concern, but after dinner eating tends to be an entire tub of ice-cream or block of chocolate as we need more and more of the sweet treat to get the satisfaction we once would have from a smaller portion.

Take control: opt for individual icecream or chocolate portions to keep your calorie intake at less than 100 calories after your evening meal. Not keeping large portions of sweet foods in the house is a good starting point to cutting this habit, too — if it is not there, you can’t eat it.


Late afternoon weekend parties

Not often mentioned but a frequent contributor to hundreds of extra calories is the snacking that occurs when we are socialising, often via large platters and tasting plates of food. Here chips, dip, cheese and canapes are consumed over many hours, making it extremely difficult to track how much you are actually eating. And as you have not actually ‘had a meal’ we often do not even register that we have eaten these calories at all. In an ideal world we would fill such platters with low calorie foods such as veggie sticks, light dips and lean protein but as this is rarely the case, keeping your calorie intake under control requires some behavioural intervention.

Take control: Stand away from any food platters and serve any snacks on plates so you can monitor your overall intake. Opt for lighter options such as veggies and thin slices of cheese and self-impose a limit of just a single plate or two of this type of snack food before you step away from the platter.

Author Susie Burrell is a leading Australian dietitian and nutritionist, founder of Shape Me, and prominent media spokesperson, with regular appearances in both print and television media commenting on all areas of diet, weight loss and nutrition.

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