As I mentioned not too long ago, I’ve been following Bob Greene’s The Best Life Diet, and I’ve had a little trouble sticking to the cut-off time.
After a few months of experimenting, I’ve decided that the cut-off time is not a perfect rule.
Greene recommends a light dinner. He says that if you go to bed a little hungry, you’re right on target. The problem with going to bed a little hungry is that you wake up in the middle of the night very hungry.
In theory, what Greene says makes sense. It’s not great to eat a huge dinner and go to bed full, because that’s when your metabolism slows down. All those calories are unnecessary, so instead of being used as energy, they get stored in your body as fat.
So I’m with him that far, and I tried. Honestly, I tried! I do feel a huge change in my body since I cut out evening snacking, and would definitely recommend that. On the nights that I followed his rule to the letter, though, and have just a light dinner and nothing else, I would start to get legitimately hungry around 8:30.
By the time I went to bed, that niggle in the stomach was turning into a slight grumble. I found it really hard to fall asleep, and then when I did, I would wake up in the middle of the night, ravenous.
Need a Man?
One time I watched Bob Greene on Oprah, and a caller had this very issue. “What do you do when you wake up hungry?” she asked.
His answer has bothered me ever since. Instead of recommending increasing portion size just a little, or eating the same small portion later in the evening, do you know what he said?
He said that if you wake up in the middle of the night hungry, it’s not food you’re hungry for, but companionship. He asked the woman if she was in a relationship. She said it was long-distance, and he nodded knowingly. Clearly it was the lack of a man in her bed that was making her eat.
I’m not saying I never eat for emotional reasons. The thing is, if I wake up in the middle of the night hungry, and it’s never happened before – only after a change in my eating habits – maybe, just maybe, it’s because of my change in diet, not because I’m a lonely wretch.
It’s taken me years and finally trying it out for myself, but I’ve officially come to this scientific conclusion:
That’s a pretty jerky thing to say, Bob.
Now I have found some balance. I eat a wisely portioned dinner around six, and if I get hungry right before bed, I might have a small nibble. I don’t go crazy. Usually it’s just a bite or two of leftovers I’ve stored from dinner – just enough to take the edge off.
I’ve still been losing weight, just by eating well-balanced meals and reducing snacking to one or two fruits or vegetables. If I’ve had a tough workout, I might squeeze in a protein shake.
What it comes down to is this: If there’s a rule that makes a diet unbearable for you, that diet isn’t going to work. You must be willing to listen to your own body, and find your own way to be healthy and balanced.