When you're on a mission to lose weight, what you choose to eat needs to line up with your goals. However, according to Break the Weight founder and health coach Ricki Friedman, how and when you eat is just as crucial. If you tend to eat light all day and chow down on a large dinner, you might be standing in the way of your success.
According to Ricki, your largest meal of the day should fall between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. After a large midday meal, you have an opportunity to go for a walk, work out, or move in some capacity that will support your digestion, but after a large late dinner, people tend to sit down to relax and go to bed on a full stomach — not a good idea if you want to wake up full of energy with healthy digestion, said Ricki.
This plan may sound easy enough, but Ricki explained, "It's often more of an emotional challenge than a physical challenge for people to make dinner light. Most of us use dinner as an activity for us to do when we get home out of loneliness or boredom, so you'll need some structure or alternative activities to fall back on!" Ricki's number-one activity she suggests to clients? Take a 20-minute walk every night after dinner. An evening walk supports healthy digestion, takes your focus off of food, and gives you an opportunity to check in with your emotional state.
If you're not sure what constitutes a light dinner, Ricki's only hard-and-fast rule is to make it less than 400 calories. Here are four options she recommends to her clients:
- Four ounces of salmon with grilled veggies and half a sweet potato
- Vegetable or lentil soup
- Half a cup of quinoa with lots and lots of veggies
- Half a veggie or beef burger with grilled vegetables
"If you want something like pizza, only have one piece or two, and then take your nighttime walk. It's not about taking all the things you love away from yourself; it's about learning how to have them, so you can go to bed feeling good, light, and satisfied," said Ricki.