A subscriber, M, asked recently about out-of-control eating in the evening. Here’s what she says:
Q: At breakfast and lunch I have a plan I can stick to. I am tired after a day of work and ready to eat anything. I can usually make it through dinner, but then I face evening challenges and I get really crazy.
M’s question is a very common one. I asked What happens earlier in the day? What are breakfast and lunch like? And she said:
I will admit it’s the same thing every day. I weigh and measure breakfast, usually cereal with fruit and milk or yogurt. Lunch is either salad or leftovers - small portions.
A: This is actually a pretty easy problem to fix by going back to Square One, aka The Basics, aka What Your Grandparents Always Did, aka Starting the Day Right, aka … breakfast.
Many people all over the world eat “the same thing every day” for breakfast. Nothing wrong with that, because lunch and dinner tend to vary. But breakfast needs to be enough food, and any time someone says they’re weighing and measuring, I think it likely they’re restricting. Undereating.
(And not necessarily! Maybe they’re an athlete concerned about getting enough of some macro for their sport. I don’t know. But … usually, it’s restriction.
So get enough. And if you’re trying to make it to lunch, get a balanced breakfast. I don’t mean meat, starch, and two veg - I mean protein and fat and carbs. Something that will keep you going for a few hours. Perhaps an egg sandwich. Some people like a chopped salad. No need to stick to “traditional” ideas of breakfast. (Check out the recent “Breakfast around the world” issue of Lucky Peach for ideas.)
Lunch of salad or leftovers seems fine. Or salad and leftovers. “Small portions” does not seem fine, if you “go crazy” in the evening.
We all know people - oh! just terrible people - who can skip breakfast, eat a small salad at lunch, and be happy with a cocktail and a bowl of cereal for dinner. But if you come home tired from work, face challenges, and then go off the rails, you are not that person. You will never win the battle to stay thin by undereating, because work and home challenges wear down your willpower while your hunger is building strength all day. You have the kind of body - a common enough kind of body - that’s going to win at the end of the day. It shows you exactly that, all the time.
And that’s not bad news.
Because, as I say, this is a pretty simple fix: Eat enough at breakfast, eat enough at lunch.
Now some people do not want breakfast. Maybe they are not a morning person. Or maybe they, too, go crazy and get bingey in the evening and wake up full. But most people who want to shift this pattern find that within three days or so eating in the morning, their body has adjusted and is asking to be fed shortly after getting up.
There may still be evening struggles, but they will be many fewer and much less crazy.
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