Eating late into the night can undo the best daily diet. But it is natural for most of us to want something after a meal …. just to finish it off. What we are really craving is a ‘taste change’ to signal to our mind and taste buds that we are ‘done’ with eating.
Instead of letting late-night nibbles sabotage you, swap them for one of these low kilojoule treats to transform your habits, your health and your waist line.
Try these low kilojoule (<400kJ) treats soon after dinner and close the kitchen by 8pm:
1. Swap Full-Fat Hot Chocolate (795 kJ) for Mint Tea with Honey (377 kJ)
1 cup warm peppermint tea + 2 tsp honey
Peppermint has one of the highest antioxidant levels of any food. It is a calming and soothing herb that has long been used to aid an upset stomach or indigestion. Mint is thought to increase bile secretion, which helps to speed up digestion. Peppermint is also thought to relieve pain and discomfort from gas and bloating. It’s refreshing flavour is a relaxing way to end a meal.
2. Swap Chocolate Ice Cream ( 904kJ) for Cinnamon Almond Milk (335 kJ)
1 cup warm unsweetened vanilla almond milk + 1 tsp pure maple syrup + ¼ tsp cinnamon.
Cinnamon is a spice that is made from the bark of Cinnamomum trees. It’s distinct aroma and taste is due to a compound called cinnamaldehyde. It is this compound that is responsible for most of cinnamon’s reported effects on health and metabolism. Some studies have shown that it can lower blood sugar levels, reduce heart disease risk factors and inflammation.
3. Swap Salt and Vinegar Potato Crisps (2243kJ) for Air-Popped Popcorn with Vinegar & Sea Salt (126kJ) 1 cup popcorn + drizzle of apple cider vinegar + sprinkle of sea salt
Apple Cider Vinegar is claimed to have many benefits, some of which are supported by science. These include weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and improved symptoms of diabetes. It is made by combining crushed apples and yeast, which ferment, and then adding bacteria for further fermentation.
4. Swap Banana Bread (1364kJ) for Cacao Covered Frozen Banana Slices (282kJ)
Peel, slice & freeze ½ banana. Sprinkle with your favourite raw cacao powder.
Raw Cacao Powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. The process keeps the living enzymes in the cocoa and removes the fat. It is rich in flavonoid antioxidants which may help with keeping our blood vessels flexible, prevent our blood from becoming ‘sticky’ and reduce inflammation. It may even help to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood pressure. The bitter taste helps us to moderate the amount we eat.
5. Swap Flavoured Fruit Yoghurt ( 812kJ) for a shot of Kefir + fresh berries (201kJ)
¼ cup plain kefir + ¼ cup fresh berries
The evidence around Kefir is strong. It is a fermented milk drink made by adding kefir “grains” to milk. These are not grains in the conventional sense, but ‘cauliflower-like’ cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria. The name comes from the Turkish word keyif, meaning “feeling good” after eating. Kefir grains contain about 30 strains of bacteria and yeast, making it a more powerful probiotic source than yoghurt.
Habits can be so set that you don’t even realise they are habits! Picking up a large vanilla latte and a ham & cheese croissant at drive-through on your way to work may be your ‘go to breakfast’ on the run but if it’s no longer serving you, the thought of going ‘cold turkey’ can be overwhelming. The deprivation game never works long term but small habit changes can. Try making small, painless changes like swapping to a medium vanilla latte and a ham & cheese toasted sandwich for starters. You can eventually drop it back to a small skim latte and an egg and salad wrap. You’ll feel energised and transformed before you know it.
Work with a basic plate model for meals instead of a prescriptive eating plan. Build your lunch and dinner around non-starchy / green veggies (½ plate) add a small amount of protein such as meat, chicken, fish, egg, tofu or legumes (¼ plate) and top it off with ¼ plate of carbs such as starchy veggies (potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, peas or corn) or 1 cup of cooked rice or pasta or 1-2 slices of bread or a small wrap. Using this plate model can transform the way you feel about lunch and dinner and it can be applied to most meals. E.g. A grilled chicken and salad sandwich, lean spaghetti bolognaise with salad, stir fry veggies and tofu with brown rice.
Remember, small changes can make a big difference and increasing your ‘overnight’ fast time to 12-16 hours can give your body time and space to repair and heal. Reducing your “eating window” may give your metabolism the boost it needs.
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