Eating Cut-Off Time – Trial and (Mostly) Error

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As you might remember, I started Bob Greene’s The Best Life Diet a few months ago.  One of his first suggestions, and one that’s supposed to stay with you for the long haul, is to stop eating after 7:30. Sometimes he phrases this as “two hours before bed,” but I find that is a dangerous loophole in practice. I’ll get a craving around 8:30 and think, Oh, there’s no way I’m going to bed before 10:30 anyway! Eat on!

There are many good reasons for this rule of thumb. The best is that your metabolism slows down at night, so if you go to bed full, your body simply incorporates that extra food energy into your current  fat stores. On the other hand, if you go to bed a little hungry, your body goes, “Oh, no! I’m not going to make it! Better get into those backup stores just in case.” I would swear, the few nights in the last few months I’ve actually followed this rule, I’ve woken up thinner. I’ll look down at my thighs and go, “Great diet!”

Truly, I am a complete, 100% believer in the power of the cut-off time. Bob Greene, I have to say, makes a compelling argument. Even worse, though, he makes it sound so easy.

It’s Not Easy!

So why is it so difficult? I find it immensely challenging to not eat in the evening. I get the fiercest cravings when I’m watching TV, or when I’m tired after teaching evening classes. It’s very easy to convince myself that I really am hungry, even using the hunger scale (see above link), so I really should eat just a little something. I work out a lot, I’ll think, my metabolism is probably just different.

So I will often have a little something , and a little something almost always leads to a lot of something. This is most true at night, when my defenses are weakest.  I’m just dead tired and full of self-doubt, and emotional eating doesn’t seem like such a bad alternative.

Looking back, my success record at avoiding evening munching is really low. In the last few months, I don’t think I have even a total of seven days success of stopping at my planned cut-off time. I’m not letting it get me down, though. I acknowledge this is a challenge, but I’ve overcome challenges before.

Moving On

The best thing you can do when you’ve been unsuccessful meeting a short-term goal is to turn your eye to the long-term. That’s exactly what I’m doing now. True, I might not be able to stop eating every single night at 7:30 in the next week, or even in the next month.

On the other hand, if I look ahead a year or two – or even five – how do I see myself? Do I see myself as the kind of person who can eat three well-portioned, nutritious meals a day and feel satisfied? Do I see myself as someone who can finish dinner, and enjoy an evening without obsessing about food (and whether or not to eat it)?

I really do. I can absolutely see myself creating an even healthier relationship with food. Looking back over the last fifteen years, all of my healthiest eating habits were developed through lots of trial and error, many small steps, and many, many mistakes/learning experiences.

I know this is just another one.

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