Is your routine affecting your health and your ability to manage weight?
Our bodies have been programed through evolution to function a certain way. With today’s busy and often stressful lifestyle, many people adopt a routine that works against, rather than in harmony, with some basic physiological and metabolic processes. A poor routine long term can lead to poor health, both inside and out, as well as make it difficult to achieve and maintain your ideal weight.
Here are some tips for ensuring your routine is working for you, not against you!:
1. Eat early on in the day: Our body is programmed to burn more kilojoules in the first half of the day, and is in storage mode at night. Think back to the days when our work days and meal times were set around the rising and setting of the sun. We rose early and went to bed soon after the sun sets and our meals followed this routine. These days we are tending to have our largest meal at night (often late at night). Unfortunately this is when we have the least opportunity to burn up the kilojoules in this food! Make sure you eat breakfast everyday(preferably before 8am) and avoid late lunches and dinners (e.g: lunch after 2pm and an 8pm dinner).
2. Get Enough sleep. Everybody is different but most of us function best from 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Also the hours of sleep you get before 12 pm are worth double the hours accumulated after midnight. Inadequate good quality sleep can cause hunger hormones (leptin and ghrelin) to become deregulated. This may be the reason you feel like your stomach is a never ending, bottomless pit.
3. Reduce the stresses and find ways of managing stress that work for you! Stress causes the release of cortisol and noradrenaline in the blood stream. These hormones, whilst useful short term such as in a fight, will make it very difficult to lose weight if they are cursing around your body chronically. This is because they act to promote fat storage. Strategies that can be useful in reducing stress include exercising regularly (especially outdoors), doing something you enjoy for at least 20-30 minutes everyday e.g; reading a book or magazine, talking to a friend in person on the phone, cooking, getting a massage, having a long bath/shower, meditation or just listening to music.
4. Make time to truly enjoy your food: Eat slowly, think about the taste, textures and flavours you are eating and what you like about them. Avoid distractions such as eating in front of the computer and TV that can cause us to eat mindlessly. Eating without being present and actually tasting the food can cause us to finish our plate and feel unsatisfied and unaware of the amount of food we have eaten – this can lead to overeating and weight gain. Keep in mind that it takes 10-20 minutes for our brain to register how satisfied we are after a meal; so if you don’t allow at least this time after finishing your meal you risk eating more than you need.
Dietitian APD, AN / Exercise Scientist