We all know that what you eat is critical to maintaining a healthy weight. Experts often contradict each other in terms of what the ideal diet is, and I have experimented with many dietary theories over the years and I have found that no single plan is right for everyone all of the time.
We all can agree, however, on the wisdom of limiting processed foods and sugar, and one trick that has worked for many of my health coaching clients is including an abundance of sweet vegetables into meals to reduce sugar cravings later on. There are many to choose from: onions, beets, squash, and sweet potatoes are among my favorite.
If you are dealing with extra weight around your middle, I share with you the five tips below that can help you battle the “muffin top”—not through what you eat (although of course that is critical!) but by WHEN and HOW you eat.
1. Eat your biggest meal when the sun is highest in the sky. In other words, make lunch the largest meal of your day. Americans are so used to eating their big meal in the evening, and I remember when Maia lived in Spain for a semester during college and she noted that she was served a light breakfast (often just a piece of toast), a hearty large midday meal (paella or fish with veggies, etc.), and a very light dinner (sometimes just a cold soup and some fruit). This is one reason that Europeans tend to be more slender than Americans!
2. Don’t eat after 8:00 PM. Your digestion is not as robust in the evening, so besides eating a light dinner, ideally you’ll avoid eating at all after 8:00 PM. Good digestion helps you absorb more nutrients from the food you are eating, which makes you feel more satisfied and less likely to snack between meals.
3. To speed up metabolism, slow down when you eat. My clients are always shocked by how well this trick works! Take your time when you eat, and make your meals an event. Set the table nicely and don’t eat on the run or while watching television. This will result in eating less, better digestion, weight loss, and less midriff bulge.
4. Honor your hunger. I tell my clients to never wait until they are ravenous to plan their meal. Start planning when you first start getting the hungry twinge and make a choice that will enhance your health goals and give you energy. When we are ravenous we make unhealthy, convenient choices and eat quickly. This can be detrimental to digestion and our awareness of our satiety, and contributes to extra weight around the middle.
5. Fast for 12 hours a day. You’ll experience better health and weight loss by giving yourself at least 12 hours each day without food or drink (water is okay). As I’ve suggested in the previous tip, I typically don’t eat anything after 8:00 PM—I then try to hold off on breakfast until 8:00 the next morning. Also, I like to break my fast most mornings with water and fresh squeezed lemon to help my body detoxify.