“I changed my job in the beginning of the year and started to go home between 21 and 22 o’clock, had dinner at that time, but I started to gain weight without eating more or having larger portions. I have no option for an early dinner. So please, give me an advice which foods are healthy for late eating?”  – Tanya

Answer:

Everyone knows the saying: “Eat your breakfast alone, share the lunch with a friend and give the dinner to your enemy”.

The primary purpose of food is to give “building material” for our tissues and to supply the organism with energy. Unfortunately the menu of most of the contemporary people contains easily digestible carbohydrates or these with high glycemic index which leads to rapid increase of blood glucose. If one walks actively after eating, the energy from this “sugar” is utilized by the muscles but if one goes to sleep after a sumptuous dinner, our muscles “go to sleep” as well and the glucose goes to the liver where it is transformed into glycogen and fat. Fats accumulate in different places, but the worst thing is they lead to obesity of the visceral organs. Diseases like metabolic syndrome with its complications – diabetes mellitus, arterial hypertension, atherosclerosis, hepatic steatosis easily occur afterwards.

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We pay too little attention to our dietary regimen engaged in our work. Usually we are not hungry in the morning or there’s no time for breakfast. Lunch is also not complete and we have dinner to our heart’s content. Then we go to bed. This overfills the stomach and the duodenum and could be the reason for reflux disturbances and sleep disorders. The sumptuous meal before sleep is an additional stress for the organism which could “spend” this time of the day in simplified regimen, relaxing and recovering.

On the other hand, when we don’t have dinner insulin production from the pancreas is increased, and the increased amount of this hormone leads to larger needs for food. Thus we wake up quite hungry in the morning, especially if we have an active lifestyle. So, my advice is to try to have dinner at least two hours before sleep. In this way the organism will have enough time to “deal with” the calories. The best way to use them is to go for a walk. The evening play with your kids can help as well. The intellectual work also burns a lot of energy.

Talking about dinner, do not imagine fatty steak with French fries and a dessert. It’s about a “light dinner” – a bowl of yoghurt or a salad. Remember, when the organism does not receive enough nutrients and minerals, metabolism slows down and less extra calories and fats are burnt. This is the reason why people who don’t have dinner or follow a strict diet lose weight more difficulty.

Here are some of my favorite recipes for a light and healthy dinner:

1. Salad with quinoa

Mix ? cup of boiled quinoa, ? teaspoon Himalayan salt, 1 Tbs lemon juice and half avocado cut to pieces. Pour some olive oil. Then add half tomato cut to pieces and a handful of fresh basil. Add some black pepper if you want. Scramble all ingredients and enjoy!

2. Diet omelette:

Products for one large omelette:

3 egg whites and one egg yolk

1 onion bulb

1 green pepper

1 cup preserved mushrooms (the type is your choice)

1 cup tomatoes

Way of preparation:

The pepper, onion, tomatoes and mushrooms are cut to small pieces and steamed in the mushrooms’ juice.

The egg whites and the yolk are lightly beated and 2-3 Tbs water are added. Beat them again and put them in heated pan. When they get tight, pour the vegetables and roll the omelette. Sprinkle with finely cut parsley.

3. Oven-baked salmon

Products:

a piece of salmon fillet

For the marinade:

1 lemon

? tsp mustard

? tsp coarse ground mustard

black pepper

salt

vegetable seasoning

dill

Way of preparation:

Prepare the marinade as you squeeze the lemon and add the finely cut dill, the two types of mustard and the spices. Stir well until the mixture becomes homogenous. Put the salmon fillet in a pan covered with baking paper or foil. Smear the marinade on it. Roll with the paper and bake it in oven heated to 200oC for 25 minutes. Serve the fish with a salad, as you add pieces of melon and cover with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

4. Shrimp Saganaki

Products:

5-6 large shrimps

? cup tomatoes

80 g low-fat desalinated feta cheese

black pepper

olive oil

parsley

salt

garlic (optional)

Way of preparation:

The shrimps are washed and cleaned. They are steamed for 5 minutes in boiling salted water. Tomatoes are blended and left on the cooker to boil for 3-4 minutes. Olive oil, salt and black pepper are added. The sauce is boiled for one more minute. Add the blended cheese, stir well and boil for another minute. Here is the time for the crushed garlic if you like it. The drained shrimps are added then and the meal simmers for 3 more minutes. Water is added if necessary. Meal is decorated with parsley.

Finally, I want to emphasize that weight gain could be not linked with dinner. Rethink your other meals, the presence of stress eating or small in quantity but full with empty calories, unrealized intermediate courses. Answer the question if your physical activity is not reduced due to your new work and if so, try to compensate this in the weekends with more walking, climbing stairs etc. Do not forget that the gained kilograms are often a symptom of functional disturbance of any of the endocrine glands (thyroid, pancreas, adrenals, ovaries). So you should seek specialized help in order to avoid certain diseases and/or additional weight gain in time.

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