I was talking to a friend about calories. She was telling me she sometimes eats an avocado for lunch and how filling they are. We started chatting about how awesome avocados are and I said that no matter how healthy they are, I just can’t eat an extra 300 calories of it with lunch. In my mind, I am still a calorie counter. I’ve gotten much better at eating foods that are healthy and not necessarily low in calories, but that number still matters to me.
That conversation lead into her asking me how I break down my calorie intake throughout the day.
My breakfast is very filling and runs between 280-380 calories. That includes my coffee with cream. I have a mid-morning snack that runs between 80-180 calories depending on what I eat. (Today I had a Babybel cheese and some pistachios.) Lunch varies depending on what I’m having but I try to keep it under 400 calories. If I’m going to the gym after work I have an afternoon snack that runs around 150 calories (usually something carby).
She was surprised that I leave around 1000 calories for dinner. The reason behind this: I am a nighttime eater. The time I will most likely get the munchies is at night after I’ve eaten dinner. I know this about myself. I’ve always been this way.
In the past, I tried to change my eating habits because studies show you should eat your biggest meal during the day and a light dinner. (Look at farmers! Their biggest meal is at noon when they eat lunch. It makes sense, their bodies need the fuel.) Studies also claim that if we eat at night, we’ll gain more weight (never eat after 7pm propaganda). I don’t think that is necessarily a A + B = C equation. I think the reason why people who eat at night gain more weight is probably because of WHAT they are eating, not the fact that they are eating.
Eating small dinners has never, ever worked for me and I would always go over my calories. Always. I realized that it didn’t work and found something that does. Saving enough calories for dinner (and dessert) works for me and I’ve been successful at staying within my calorie range as a result. I still get dessert and I don’t go over my calories. I don’t feel restricted and I satisfy my sweet tooth. I also snack less in the evening because I eat a satisfying dinner that fills me up.
Not every plan works for every person. Some people are night time eaters like me. Some people need to eat more during the day and less at night (maybe they have acid reflux and bigger dinners aggravate that). The trick is to find what works for you, and what works for YOUR body. If you are seeing positive results and you feel better, keep doing it.
QUESTION: What’s your take on the “don’t eat at night” edicts? Are you a nighttime eater?