A balanced dinner is the perfect way to keep your body fit

Consider this simple proposition. If you over-indulge at dinner-time and sleep on a full stomach, the excess calories you consume have nowhere to go… and will most likely end-up around your waistline. This is because, during the night, your body goes into rest mode. When you fall asleep, you cannot burn off all the excess calories that you have consumed, so this surplus energy is stored as fat.

Surely it did not take a genius to figure that out! Eating a right dinner is, therefore, a crucial first step towards maintaining or losing weight. The fact is, this is the time of day when your physical activity is tapering off.  You are tired and your energy levels are probably dropping. This makes you extremely vulnerable. Your natural instinct is to grab all the “comfort foods” you can lay your hands on.

For some of you, your social life begins after sunset. You might start with a drink at the club. Or, you may dine out at a restaurant. Many of you will attend family functions, where food is the highlight of the evening. So, how do you resist all the temptation coming your way? While it is not easy, controlling binge-eating at dinner-time is a key factor in weight loss.

Balanced Dinner Plan

It's a great idea to start your meal with a soup. Research shows that people who consume soup before starting their main meal consume about 100 calories less than those who omit the course. People who watch their weight have also consistently recorded that soup has helped tremendously in their diet plans.

Follow the soup with a salad. Think juicy veggies, fruits, crisp sprouts, crunchy salads and you get the idea. A dash of lime juice, chaat masala, a bit of rock salt and pepper add extra zest to your salad options.

Arriving At The Main Course

By the time you get to your main course, you are already beginning to feel satisfied. Your main course is divided into three distinct food groups.

Cereal The body's main energy provider, Examples are rice, roti and bread

Vegetables  Rich in vitamins and minerals, high in fibre, helps immunity and aids digestion. Examples are steamed, raw or cooked vegetables.  

Protein-rich Foods The body's building blocks, working for repair and regeneration. Examples are dals, curd, lean meats and fish.

A dinner main course should be a combination of the above — such as roti, veggies and dal; or rice, vegetable curry and curds. It's your way of making sure that the three food groups are always included. You could be dining at home, eating out, on the go, among friends, alone… it does not matter, as long as your meal is balanced.

You may wonder why a balanced meal is such a big deal. Look around you. Observe people who are on a diet. Do you see dark circles or dull skin? Did you hear complaints about falling hair, or feeling listless?  With the right kind of meal planning, you will have no such problems.

Tips

Avoid Large Meals

Big meals are harder to digest and can make you feel sleepy. When you consume small, healthy meals every day, your body needs more calories to break down the food, thereby helping to raise your body metabolism.

Sit Down And Eat Slowly

It's easy to overeat when meals are grabbed on the run, or while standing in front of the refrigerator. Eat slowly, to give your body time to release the enzymes that tell your brain you've had enough. The slower you eat, the sooner you'll be satisfied.

Watch The Clock

If you eat too much after 9 p.m., chances are that you'll gain weight. This is the time when your body is tired; it is also the time when you are probably gearing up for social and business dinners. The later you eat, the harder it gets to digest the food. If you have to have a late dinner, eat a small snack in advance — that way, you won't be ravenous at dinner time.

Don't Overeat If You Are Stressed Out

Avoid eating as an antidote to emotional pain. Whether it is alcohol, drugs or food, excess of any kind leads to weight gain. This, in turn, triggers higher stress levels, and becomes a vicious cycle.

The writer is a certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist.