4 Meals Anyone Can Make
Lesson 4: Eating nothing after dinner and before bed doesnt make you a saint.
Lesson #1: Cutting out after-dinner snacks didn't necessarily encourage me to make healthier choices.
I started out the experiment dreading it. My willpower is frankly non-existent, and I've found that strict diets or cutting out certain food groups altogether don't work for me in the long-run.
I realized fairly quickly that continuing to eat low-carb dinners wouldn't work, because I still felt hungry after. One day, after working out, I had a chicken and vegetable curry with green beans instead of rice for dinner. I was still really hungry after and, having worked out, I convinced myself that it was OK to have some post-dinner fruit. And just like that, I broke my snack-free rule. On other nights, I was better, however, and sipped my nightly cup of green tea in resentment as my husband enjoyed a bag of potato chips or popcorn.
In addition to eating more for dinner and adding carbs to my plate, I found a way to cheat by having my snacksbeforedinner. This tricked my body into not wanting those snacks later. Noticing this pattern, however, I made an effort to eat more fruit and vegetables, and would munch on carrot sticks or an apple as I cooked dinner to curb my cravings later.
Some of the healthier snacks I started having before dinner to keep me full. Chloe Pantazi/INSIDER
"The reality is, you shouldn't feel more hungry after dinner," registered dietitian Wendy Bazilian, author of told INSIDER. "Although you may feel your digestion change or a bit of shift, which might be interpreted as hunger, that can dissipate within just a couple days," she said. "Your digestive system is near-constantly in motion," she added, saying that "some people sense that 'any motion' is hunger and that's not the case."
Bazilian also suggested that not eating before bed can also help you fall asleep quicker.
Lesson #2: Not eating snacks may or may not have helped me sleep better, but I felt better when I woke up each morning.
Though most nights I would get to bed around the same time as usual (around 11.45 p.m.), I found that I was sleeping slightly better than usual.
One blissful evening, I even went to bed at 9.30 p.m. — averyrare occurrence — and had the best night's sleep in a long time. I felt refreshed the next morning, though I'm not sure if sleeping better that night had to do with not eating anything before bed, or being tired from a late night the day before.
As registered dietitian Lisa De Fazio told me, snacking before bed doesn't help you sleep.
"Eating before bed will cause your blood sugar to spike and crash while you sleep," she told INSIDER. "This blood sugar crash will put stress on the body, weaken the digestive system, and lead to adrenal exhaustion. Sleep is is all about relaxation and restoration. Cortisol, the stress hormone, should be at its lowest at night. When blood sugar crashes in the middle of the night, cortisol levels rise, and melatonin decreases. Melatonin helps you sleep well."
Bazilian said that not having snacks close to bedtime can not only improve your sleep, but also the way you feel in the morning. "Falling asleep time (how fast) can improve, staying asleep can improve, and the quality of the sleep can improve," she said, adding that everything from the amount of calories to the fat and salt content in food can also affect sleep in a negative way, and even make you feel more tired the next day.
So it's likely that cutting out high-salt popcorn or those occasional spoonfuls of full-fat ice cream, could have helped me sleep on some nights during that week.
I slept a bit better, but I missed my occasional late-night Halo Top. Chloe Pantazi/INSIDER That said, I still didn't notice a big improvement in my sleep. Registered dietitian Andy Bellatti, the strategic director of Dietitians For Professional Integrity, pointed out that getting a good night's sleep also comes down to curbing other habits besides snacking.
"If better-quality sleep is the problem to solve, I would prioritize other things before going to bed: minimizing screen time, meditating, soothing music, and avoiding the news," he told INSIDER. It's safe to say that I avoided none of these things, which might explain why I didn't notice a hugely positive change.
Lesson #3: I probably need to eat more during the day, and stop eating in front of the TV.
Not eating snacks in the evening made me realize that, most of the time, the reason I want more to eat after dinner is because I'm still hungry. Having a light breakfast or lunch, both of which I usually eat at my desk, didn't help, and may have been part of the reason I kept snacking at night.
I also realized that, even on the nights when I did feel full after dinner, I felt like I was missing something when watching TV. My "Real Housewives" binge wasn't quite the same without my post-dinner popcorn or Halo Top. But did I really need those snacks, or was I just used to having them in my hands when watching my show?
No more late-night popcorn for me.
According to Bellatti, a pattern of late-night snacking is often out of habit rather than necessity.
"Many of my clients who curb late-night snacking fare off well in the long-term because their usual post-dinner snacks were cookies, ice cream, and baked goods," he said. "Replace that with healthier items (or eliminate the late-night snacking altogether, since often times that has more to do with habits — like watching television — or emotional eating) and you'll be better off."
Lesson #4: Eating nothing after dinner and before bed doesn't make you a saint.
While I was cutting out all snacks for the experiment, I don't think it's a sustainable or realistic rule. That would mean never having another dessert (unthinkable), and denying yourself food if you're ever genuinely hungry after having an insufficient dinner.
If you don't eliminate eating snacks at night altogether — which I don't plan on doing again anytime soon — it's probably a better idea to choose healthier snacks, and have them at least an hour or two before your bedtime, according to Bellatti.
"If you are physically hungry after dinner and aren't going to bed for another hour/hour and a half or so, snack on something that promotes stable blood sugar," he said, suggesting a handful of almonds, two squares of dark chocolate, a glass of unsweetened coconut milk, or a chia pudding.
Since the experiment ended, I've definitely made a move to eating healthier if I crave a late-night snack, and I have stopped snacking quite as much — though I can't say I'm ready to give up my Halo Top for good.
Video: Pencilmiss Steals Pencilmate's Food! -in- LORD OF THE FRIES - Pencilmation Cartoons for Kids
IKEA Will Soon Use Biodegradable Packaging Made From Mushrooms
15 Hot Makeup Products You Need This Summer
Autism Spectrum Disorder: Causes, Diagnosis, and Everything About Managing the Condition
Should You Get a Pet Rodent
Pink Pineapples Are a Thing — Heres Everything You Need to Know
Have You Got What It Takes To Be An Army Girl
Estée Lauder Re-nutriv Ultimate Lift Age-Correcting Eye Creme
The Celluveyor conveyor belt can move in any direction
Were Calling It: Rust Is the Colour of the Season
How to Calm Your Sister