I am back and wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy and prosperous 2016. I can guess you indulged in all the different ‘sorts’ like I did over the Christmas holidays and with a few more days of rollicking and celebrating the end of one year and the birth of another, we all would be busy with more ‘sorts’ like cakes, ice-cream, chocolates and lots of other varieties to eat and drink from morning till night and overnight.
So here’s the balance: A little indulgence now and again does not get you into too much trouble but a constant habit of consuming processed foods and drinks (which tend to be high in sugar and salt) is definitely going to have a negative effect on your health.
The other day, I let you into what my ‘former’ typical daily food plan (or lack of it) looked like. Part of that if you remember was that with a very busy work schedule it seemed difficult to get a meal during the day and so the tendency to compensate with a large meal at night. So what is it (really) with eating late at night, any problems, who is complaining? Does it matter if I eat late at night?
I found out and it turns out that it does not matter what time of the day you eat, you will most definitely put on weight if you eat larger portions and take in more than your fair share of calories per day. Does that now indicate a freedom of ‘fooding’ all night? Most people who eat only one meal a day (at night) tend to eat larger portions because of the psychological belief that they have missed out on their fair share of good food for the day. On the other hand a constant habit of overeating will most definitely lead to excessive weight gain which in turn can cause a lot of health risks.
Here are some overweight related health problems: Coronary Heart Disease where excess body mass causes a build of up waxy substance that the doctors say clogs up the arteries disturbing the supply of blood to the heart. It can also cause heart failure when the heart is unable to pump enough blood round the body. Other health risks are Osteoarthritis (stiffness and pain in body joints like the wrists, knees, hips, ankles making it difficult for you to move that joint or perform certain activities), High Blood Pressure, Type 2 Diabetes and some types of cancers. I actually have friends who had to lose a bit of weight to successfully deal with joint pains and there are lots of records out there of different people who were already experiencing symptoms of some weight-related health problems whose symptoms vanished after they heeded the advice to lose some weight.
Apart from the tendency to overeat there are other likely problems with eating late at night. Eating shortly before going to bed can cause acid reflux and heartburn. Our stomachs produce acid to help in breaking down the foods that we eat and food normally stays in the stomach from between 2-4 hours depending on the individual, the quantity of food and the type of food eaten. Foods that are high in protein and fat take a longer time to digest than most other foods and some people produce more acid than others.
The acid produced in the stomach can come back up the oesophagus causing acid reflux which could also be present with or without heartburn but with other symptoms like hoarseness, chronic throat clearing, post-nasal dripping and even asthma. A little lifestyle change may be necessary to avoid any of these symptoms; instead of eating dinner and going to bed immediately, choose to eat your last meal for the day at least two to three hours before bed time and select smaller portions of easier to digest food.
Okay, so I am getting a lot smarter with my eating habits now and this is what my new meal plan for the day looks like: I have decided to eat a meal or snack every 3 to 4 hours with a combo of high quality protein and fiber at every meal or snack. Now don’t get carried away with my choice of the word snack which to an average mind means a helping of a pack of over-salted crisps, a few biscuits or a slice of cake all topped with carbonated drinks. When I say snack, I mean a healthy snack like Tuna or Mackerel sandwich made with brown bread slices and some green and purple vegetables.
A good mix of protein and fibre gives me the needed daily portion of food nutrients. Here are some of the food items that make my list for protein: Chicken, Turkey, Guinea Fowl, Oily and other types of Fish and Sea Foods, Beans, Nuts, Eggs, Cottage Cheese, and Semi-skimmed Milk. For fibre: Fruits and vegetables, Beans, Lentils, Chickpeas, Brown Rice, Brown Pasta, Oats, Potatoes eaten with the skin.
The next time you see me I should have dumped all the ‘additionals’ gained from all the ‘sorts’ over this festive season. Until I return with the story of ‘Whole wheat’ for and against, I am going to try my hands on some healthy snack. Bye for now!
Funke Fasanya, an authority on healthy living writes from the United Kingdom.