(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — In last week’s article, we looked at the worst foods to eat at night-time and how beneficial eating for a restful night is to your health and well-being. If you are working to slowly break the night-time eating pattern or looking to avoid the potential problems, there are a few guidelines you should follow.
• Limit your eating to an eight-to-10-hour range each day;
• Never eat within two to three hours of bedtime, this will also reduce your risks for acid reflux and breast and prostate cancers;
• Plan and purchase your late meals ahead of time;
• Eat nutrient-dense and healthy foods throughout the day;
• Avoid sugar- and flour-based processed foods; keep it natural;
• Don’t forget to drink water; stay hydrated.
Regardless of the time, your food choices are always important, but your “late-hour” food choices are extraordinarily important. Aim to select foods with compounds known to promote relaxation and sleep (melatonin, tryptophan, serotonin, magnesium etc), without harassing your digestive system, and avoid foods which contain compounds known to increase anxiety, wakefulness, edginess, and are challenging for your digestive processes.
Check out a testimonial from one of our new ITK members, Greg Mundy from West Virginia, who has, so far, lost 30 pounds in three months: Before starting ITK, dinner time was anywhere between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm.
I tend to work late into the night, so snacking after 10:00 pm was the norm for me. I was quite intimidated by the 6:30 pm cut-off time, but decided to give it a shot. It was a difficult transition, but well worth it!
As I stuck to the system and consciously made the effort to not eat past 6:30 pm, a few amazing things happened. I no longer woke up with crippling heartburn; my junk food cravings ended; I felt more energetic in the mornings; inflammation in my joints were reduced; and I lost weight.
Cutting out late-night eating was difficult and took a great deal of determination and planning, but the health benefits I’ve experienced far outweigh the initial discomfort.
Best foods to eat at night-time
Yes, the most potentially controversial one first. They are energy-giving foods, but if you are a fan do not worry, they are rich in melatonin and serotonin which promote sleep, and magnesium which is involved in the muscle-relaxing process.
Possibly the most definite of the good pre-bedtime foods. One 50-calorie medium kiwi is more than your day’s supply of vitamin C, and is filled with minerals, antioxidants and serotonin. It reduces inflammation, is good for your digestive health and lowers cholesterol.
There have been studies which show that kiwi is one of the best foods for improving sleep quality. This is probably the only food I would recommend having up to one hour of bedtime.
Healthy and regular nerve functions are essential for a good night’s sleep. Almonds are dense with tryptophan, melatonin, magnesium, and fibre, which give you a comfortable satiation and will assist in a steady night’s sleep. They have also been associated with lowering risks of many chronic diseases.
Well known to be loaded with tryptophan, and with four grams of protein per ounce, turkey can keep you feeling satisfied all night.
Tart cherries or cherries
One cup of cherries will give you a high percentage of your daily requirements of vitamin C, manganese and vitamin A. It is rich with cell-protecting antioxidants and cancer-fighting flavanols. Most importantly, for sleep, it is high in melatonin.
We have often heard that a cup of warm milk can put you right to sleep, well, it turns out they were right. If you are a milk drinker, and not lactose intolerant, a cup of warm milk may give you enough tryptophan to put you comfortably to sleep.
Non-caffeine, herbal teas are known to have a range of health benefits. A regular routine of teas such as chamomile tea, valerian tea and passion flower tea, are known to reduce anxiety, may boost your immune system, reduce cravings, contain antioxidants, and improve sleep quality.
Good night-time foods (special mentions)
• Fatty fish (salmon)
• Sweet potato
• Walnuts, pistachios
• Cottage cheese (with peach)
• String cheese
• Greek yogurt (with berries or chia seeds)
• Chia seeds
• Hummus (with baby carrots)
• Natural oatmeal
• Peanut butter on whole grain breads (or apples)
• Whole wheat crackers.
Remember, whatever you do chose, do not overeat; keep your servings small, even when making a meal of multiple options.
You should never feel full after eating, just satiated. Never eat within two to three hours of bedtime, be aware of how your choices affect your sleep and body weight, adjust if necessary, and remember, stick with small portions.
Much of what we believe doesn’t work for us is what we have never tried or have never tried consistently.
Stop, don’t just read and move on, this is way too important; take a few notes and apply these guidelines to your life. Try it for two months, it certainly will not hurt and very likely will help. Most of all, rest well.
Fitz-George Rattray is the director of Intekai Academy, which is focused on helping people live a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and weight management. If you are interested in losing weight or living a healthier lifestyle, give them a call at 968-8238, or visit their website at intekaiacademy.org