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7 Dinner Tips for How to Stop Sugar Cravings at Night

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What you eat for dinner has a huge impact on your feeling of fullness right afterwards.

Credit: d3sign / Moment / GettyImages

It’s like clockwork: every night your sweet tooth is looking for something sweet before going to bed.

Biology is to blame for this. A small study from March 2013 published in the journal Obesity found that the body’s internal clock increases hunger and cravings for sweet foods (including starchy and salty) in the evening.

While you can’t change your circadian system, you don’t have to be tied to your sugar cravings. In fact, what you do over dinner can help reduce cravings for desserts and other sweets.

Here, dietitians share seven simple dinner hacks to help stop sugar cravings at night.

1. Skip the lemonade (and other sugary drinks)

A large glass of lemonade with dinner could be the culprit for your nighttime sugar cravings.

Sweetened drinks increase your blood sugar levels instantly. “It’s almost like injecting glucose into your veins,” said Lisa Moskovitz, RDN, founder and CEO of NY Nutrition Group.

But here’s the problem: “The faster your blood sugar rises, the more insulin you produce and the more your blood sugar collapses,” explains Moskovitz.

This glucose roller coaster is a recipe for those with a gnawing sweet tooth no matter how much you ate for dinner, she says.

And drinking sugary drinks on a regular basis can even alter your brain. Animal studies show that sugar intake leads to chemical changes in the brain – similar to addiction – that increase candy cravings, says Kylie Gearhart, RD, a collaborator with NY Nutrition Group.

Takeout: Ditch the lemonade and other sweet drinks at dinner (and from your overall diet).

“If you’re an avid lemonade drinker, I wouldn’t suggest drinking cold turkey, which could lead to even more intense cravings, but instead gradually reduce your intake by mixing half soda with half seltzer water or juice with water,” says Gearhart .

2. Go for low glycemic foods

While a heaping bowl of white pasta sounds like a delicious dinner, you might crave candy in the wee hours of the morning. That’s because certain foods – like refined carbohydrates – have a high glycemic index (GI).

The glycemic index is a value assigned to foods based on how slowly or how quickly those foods raise blood sugar levels, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

High GI foods quickly release glucose into your bloodstream, causing blood sugar spikes. “But what goes up has to go down quickly, and the rapid rise and fall in glucose levels puts you in a vicious circle that leads to a burst of energy and increased cravings for sweets,” explains Gearhart.

That is why “stabilizing blood sugar levels is the key to avoiding the need for sugar before going to bed,” says Moskovitz.

And eating low glycemic foods – which release glucose slowly and evenly – can help you with that. Stock up on green vegetables, legumes, and nuts to keep your blood sugar levels balanced and stable throughout the night.

3. Pack your plate with protein

Curbing nocturnal sugar cravings can result in getting a decent amount of protein at dinner.

Your body digests protein more slowly than fat and carbohydrates. “That means that eating a higher-protein meal will generally make you feel full longer and reduce the urge to spike in sugar after dinner,” says Moskovitz.

In fact, protein has been shown to reduce the “hunger hormone” ghrelin and increase hormones like glucagon-like peptide-1 and cholecystokinin, which contribute to feeling full of satiety, Gearhart says.

“Protein also has a minimal impact on blood sugar,” adds Moskovitz. And that’s important because foods that raise blood sugar quickly often lead to rapid blood sugar crashes and, as a result, increased sugar cravings.

So make sure your dinner plate is getting an adequate serving of protein. Fortunately, there are a variety of protein options that are perfect for the dining table. From chicken, turkey, and fish to eggs, tofu, and legumes, you can find a healthy source of protein regardless of your diet.

Chances are you may not be getting enough fiber at dinner (or in general). In fact, most Americans – a staggering 95 percent – don’t get enough fiber each day, according to a July 2016 article in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

But if you’re looking to reduce sugar cravings, fiber is your friend. “One of the greatest benefits of fiber is that it slows digestion and the absorption of fat, which can keep you full and satisfied longer, and reduce cravings,” says Gearhart.

The 2015-2020 American Diet Guidelines recommend between 25 and 34 grams of fiber per day if you’re a person under 50, or 22 to 28 grams if you’re older.

You can help achieve your daily goal by piling your plate on high fiber foods like vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. For quick and easy dinners, Moskovitz recommends opting for a pre-made source of high-fiber whole grains like Seeds of Change Organic Quinoa & Brown Rice.

Tip

As you add more fiber to your diet, you should drink enough fluids to prevent constipation, Gearhart says.

The desire to have candy after dinner can actually mean that you are thirsty.

“We can often mistake thirst for hunger,” says Moskovitz. You might experience excessive thirst masquerading as sugar cravings, especially if your dinner was a little salty than usual, she adds.

To quench your thirst, drink 1 to 2 cups of water before dinner and then drink more during your meal, says Moskovitz.

Having dinner in front of the subway: we are all guilty. But when you’re tuned to the TV, don’t pay attention to your plate. “It’s hard to be fully aware and present when you’re surrounded by distractions, especially television,” says Moskovitz.

Not only do you run the risk of overeating (because you ignore your feelings of fullness), you may also crave nightly sweets.

Case in point: Eating while watching TV is linked to higher consumption of high-sugar foods and sweetened beverages in children, according to a systematic review in October 2017 in Maternal and Child Nutrition.

The simple solution is to turn off the screen. “You will feel much happier after dinner if you take your time and enjoy the food instead of mindlessly shoveling food into your mouth while being distracted by social media or television,” says Gearhart.

And practice mindful eating over dinner: chew your food slowly, enjoy every bite, and use all of your senses, Gearhart says.

Sometimes nighttime sugar cravings signals that you are not eating enough during dinner.

“If you pay attention to calories, carbohydrates, or servings in general, you can step back too far,” says Moskovitz. But that can backfire later.

If you do not eat enough food (especially carbohydrates) with meals, your body will let you know, often in the form of sugar cravings.

To combat this, always eat a balanced dinner (including breakfast and lunch) with all three macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein), Gearhart says.

And if you’re still craving sweets after dinner …

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we just can’t shake our sweet tooth after dinner. And that’s fine. This is how you deal with your night longings in a healthy way.

Stop to see if the pining is over.“Sometimes the craving only lasts a few minutes,” says Gearhart.

“When you feel like you’ve really eaten enough and had a reasonably balanced, well-balanced dinner throughout the day, try to distract your mind a little by going for a walk, tidying up your room, tidying your closet, or one Call my girlfriend, ”she says.

But if you still feel like it, iDon’t fight the desire.“Work with them instead,” says Moskovitz. “If it really feels like an urge to eat rather than an emotional one, then combine a little bit of what you want with something you know your body needs.”

For example, fill half a bowl with ice and the other half with fresh fruit and nuts. “You will still feel like you are getting a satisfying serving, but adding foods high in fiber or high in protein will keep your blood sugar stable and nourishing at the same time,” she says.

Whole Grains Health

Protein Variety and Heart Health Are Linked, Study Finds

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We’ve all found ourselves in the habit of eating the same three things over and over (…and over) again. When life gets busy, falling back on simple dishes that satisfy your tastebuds is the natural thing to do. But if you’re cooking up the same couple proteins on the regular, a new study published in the the journal Hypertension suggests that it may be time to introduce a few new varieties into your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

The study pulled existing data from over 12,000 participants who took part in a minimum of two rounds of the China Health and Nutrition Survey. Researchers sought to explore the relationship between hypertension—or high blood pressure—and the variety and quantity of proteins from eight major dietary sources consumed by participants. (Study participants were an average age of 41 years old.)

Researchers measured protein intake by looking at three consecutive days of eating, scoring each round based on the number of protein varieties consumed (including legumes, fish, eggs, whole grains, refined grains, processed and unprocessed red meat, and poultry).

The results? “Among ‘just the right amount’ consumers of protein, those eating the greatest variety of protein had a the lowest blood pressure,” explains John Higgins, MD, a sports cardiologist with McGovern Medical School at the UT Health Science Center at Houston. Notably, those who ate the least and the most amount of protein were at the greatest risk for developing high blood pressure, while those who ate the greatest variety of protein were 66 percent less likely to end up developing hypertension between the rounds of the survey .

“The heart health message is that consuming a balanced diet with proteins from various different sources, rather than focusing on a single source of dietary protein, may help to prevent the development of high blood pressure.” — Xianhui Qin, MD, study author

Although the survey results sound complicated—and, hey, they were—the takeaway is simple: “The heart health message is that consuming a balanced diet with proteins from various different sources, rather than focusing on a single source of dietary protein, may help to prevent the development of high blood pressure,” Xianhui Qin, MD, the study author, said in a press release. In other words: Mix it up! Spin the protein wheel of fortune and try something new.

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If you’re not quite sure where to start with upping your protein game, Dr. Higgins recommends looking at your consumption on a daily basis. “The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than about 5.5 ounces of protein daily, about one to two servings, from healthy sources such as plants, seafood, low-fat or fat-free dairy products and some lean meats and poultry,” he says. “The best proteins are lean proteins including beans, soy or tofu, fish, skinless chicken, very lean meat, and low-fat dairy products. Avoid proteins that say ‘hydrogenated’ on label or contain high levels of trans fats or saturated fats. “

Of course, there’s always room in your eating plan for less nutritional proteins, too—just try to incorporate these lean sources when you can, and ask your doctor if you have questions about what dietary habits are right for your particular health status and family history .

A delicious way to eat more varied proteins? This delicious quiche recipe:

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The 10 Best Diet Books in 2022

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Staff, Courtesy of Shalane Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky

The word “diet” has earned itself an undeniably negative reputation, often leading people to think of unsustainable restriction and unhealthy fads. However, if you’re looking to adjust your way of eating, whether you want to feel better, lose weight, or hit a new personal record, there are tons of great diet books out there that can help educate you on ways to improve your nutrition and get you feeling better than ever.

While the diets of the past have focused on restriction, newer ways of eating encouragement consuming more good-for-you foods to crowd out less healthy choices, leaving you feeling satisfied, not deprived. These diet books are also super educational, teaching you why you should eat certain foods, what they can do for your health, and the best ways to make them delicious. To help you on your nutrition journey, we’ve gathered the best diet books and healthy cookbooks available today.

Best Diet Books

    How to Choose a Diet Book

    If you’re looking to switch up your diet, the first thing you should ask yourself is why. What exactly do you want out of a diet?

    Second, consider your lifestyle. Do you need meals that are quick and easy? Do you like to take an hour or two to cook for yourself every night? How often can you grocery shop for fresh ingredients?

    Finally, consider whether you’re looking specifically for a cookbook or one that will provide you education on a particular way of eating without necessarily giving you recipes. While many cookbooks will have some content that discusses the origins of food and their nutritional benefits, these books are unlikely to go as in-depth regarding nutrition as less recipe-focused ones.

    How We Selected

    To find the best diet books among the many options on the market, we researched the most popular books available and considered their content, credibility, design, digestibility, and organization. We then looked at both expert reviews and more than 105,000 customer ratings, written by people who’ve bought these books on Amazon, to settle on the diet books you’ll find below.

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    1

    Best vegetarian

    How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    This is a great all-around cookbook, but it’s an especially great buy if you’re trying to lay off meat. This book contains everything from specific meal recipes to instructions for steaming veggies, truly teaching you how to cook from start to finish. There are recipes for every meal, as well as snacks and desserts, and it includes instructions for so many different dishes you could easily cook from only this book for an entire year and not get bored.

    2

    Best for Longevity

    The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100

    This cookbook highlights recipes from specific areas across the globe—called blue zones—where people live the longest. While some of their longevity surely comes from other lifestyle factors, there’s no discounting the role diet plays in their long-lasting health and wellbeing. These recipes not only focus on ingredients, but the ways in which foods are prepared and how that relates to their overall nutritional value.

    The goal of the book is to increase longevity and quality of life while creating delicious recipes that you’ll want to eat time and time again.

    3

    Best Mediterranean

    The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook

    The Mediterranean diet is consistently ranked as one of the healthiest diets in the world. It’s full of lean proteins, healthy fats, and tons of vegetables, providing a well-rounded, nutritious way of eating.

    This cookbook not only has 500 great Mediterranean recipes, but it also helps you learn which ingredients you should make staples in your grocery list. It also uses only ingredients that you can easily find at standard grocery stores, which makes the Mediterranean diet more accessible.

    4

    Best for Runners

    run fast eat slow

    You’ve probably heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen”—and to some degree, the same holds true for personal records. While nutritious food won’t necessarily knock 30 seconds off your mile time, it can help you fuel your workouts so you get the most out of your training.

    This book was designed by Olympian Shalane Flanagan and is packed with recipes designed to help runners fuel their toughest workouts and recover after. As a bonus, the recipes included in this book just so happen to be delicious, too.

    5

    Best Vegan

    The Complete Plant-Based Cookbook

    When first going vegan, it can be difficult to figure out how to make food that is both delicious and nutritious. This book has 500 recipes ranging from meals to snacks to desserts that use entirely plant-based ingredients. These recipes also offer alternate ingredient options, like eggs and dairy, which is great if you want to add more plant-based recipes into your diet, but aren’t ready to dive headfirst into veganism.

    6

    Best for a full reset

    The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    If you’ve been diet-hopping in hopes of finding a meal plan that can help you commit to a healthier lifestyle and enjoy some weight loss, Whole 30 is a great choice. It has you cut out sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, and some other specific foods for 30 days. The idea behind the diet is that it helps jumpstart weight loss while simultaneously getting you to reassess how you think about what you are eating to reach a place of freedom with your food.

    7

    Best for weight loss

    The Obesity Code – Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss

    If weight loss is your goal, and you have struggled to find lasting success, this book could be a game-changer. It dives into the science of weight loss, helping you understand hormones, insulin resistance, and other reasons for weight gain. The book recommends intermittent fasting and a low-carb diet, and guides you on how to do them correctly, efficiently, and in the long term.

    8th

    Best for Learning about Food

    How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease

    A lot of eating plans focus on what you should eliminate from your diet, but this book places more importance on what you should be adding to your diet and why.

    It discusses foods that are scientifically proven to help you live a longer, healthier life, and the many ways in which food can help prevent disease. It focuses on whole body health—including both mental and physical health—and teaches you to focus on more than just weight and physical appearance when it comes to your food.

    9

    Best for Anti-Dieters

    Not a Diet Book: Take Control. Gain Confidence. ChangeYourLife.

    The rise of anti-diet culture gave inspiration to this book, which helps you improve your relationship with food, tackle weight loss, and debunk fad diets to find a simple and easy way to lose weight and create habits that will keep the pounds from coming back. This book will help you build skills that enable you to live a happier, healthier life without focusing too closely on calories or numbers on a scale.

    10

    Best for fasting

    Complete Guide to Fasting

    Fasting has gained popularity over the last decade and can be a great way to boost your metabolism, clear your mind, and promote weight loss. There are, however, rules you should follow while fasting so that you improve your health rather than endangering it. This book will guide you through intermittent, alternate-day, and extended fasting to ensure you choose the style that will work best for you and do it correctly.


    Before joining Runner’s World as an Editor in 2019, Gabrielle Hondorp spent 6 years in running retail (she has tested top gear from shoes, to watches, to rain jackets which has expanded her expertise—and her closets); she specializes in health and wellness, and is an expert on running gear from head-to-toe.

    This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io

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Eating different kinds of protein protects against hypertension: New study

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Despite all this talk that more Australians are toying with vegetarianism, and despite the endless drum-beating about red meat giving you cancer and a dodgy heart, we continue to have one of the world’s highest levels of meat consumption.

Analysis published in December found Australians eat about 95 kilograms of meat per capita every year. The global average is 35 kilograms.

The article, ‘The Evolution of Urban Australian Meat-Eating Practices’, argues our meat-eating habits are driven by a blocky culture, an association with social status, a perception that plant-based diets are inadequate and lame, and ignorance about cooking legumes and tofu.

On the other hand, the authors point to a survey that found almost 20 per cent of those sampled “identified as meat-reducers”.

Furthermore, the authors say, 87 percent “of the meat reducer segment reported consuming a meat-free dish as their main meal at least once a week”.

They point to another survey that found almost 20 per cent described themselves as “flexitarian”, which is cool.

But it may not translate to more lentils, nuts, whole grains, fish and dairy hitting the dinner table as new favorite sources of protein.

A new study found why we need variety

Chinese researchers found that “eating protein from a greater variety of sources is associated with a lower risk of developing high blood pressure”.

Good to know because blood pressure is literally out of control in Australia.

One in three adults – more than six million Australians – has high blood pressure.

Of those afflicted, only 32 per cent have their hypertension under control. That leaves about four million Australians as ticking time bombs.

In December, in the Medical Journal of Australia, Professor Alta Schutte, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at UNSW Sydney, called for a national taskforce to tackle the issue.

By improving the control of hypertension, the risks of coronary heart disease, dementia and cerebrovascular disease will be substantially reduced.

The Chinese study suggests changing your diet will go some way to solving the problem.

the study

“Nutrition may be an easily accessible and effective measure to fight against hypertension. Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is one of the three basic macronutrients,” said study author Dr Xianhui Qin, of the National Clinical Research Center for Kidney Disease at Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China.

The study authors analyzed health information for nearly 12,200 adults (average age 41), who had taken part in multiple rounds of the China Health and Nutrition Survey from 1997 to 2015.

Over three days in the same week, participants shared what they had eaten.

They were given a protein “variety score” based on the different sources of protein they’d eaten: whole grains, refined grains, processed red meat, unprocessed red meat, poultry, fish, egg and legumes.

One point was given for each source of protein, with a maximum variety score of 8. The researchers then evaluated the association for new onset hypertension in relation to the protein variety score.

New-onset hypertension was defined as blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mm Hg/90 mm Hg, the use of blood pressure-lowering medicine, or self-reporting that a physician had diagnosed high blood pressure.

The average follow-up time was six years.

The results

More than 35 per cent of the participants developed new-onset high hypertension during the follow-up.

Compared to participants with the lowest variety score for protein intake (1), those with the highest variety score (4 or higher) had a 66 per cent lower risk of developing high blood pressure.

The amount of protein eaten was also a factor. Consumption was divided into five categories, from least to most intake.

The researchers found that “people who ate the least amount of total protein and those who ate most protein had the highest risk for new onset of hypertension”.

The researchers didn’t ask why a variety of proteins was more healthy. But nutritionists, doctors and health writers have banged on about it for years.

Lean red meat is high in quality protein but provides no fiber or healthy fats. Processed meats are high in saturated fats and salt and are the worst.

Fish is high in long-chain fatty acids, which are good for the brain. Lentils and whole grains are high in fibre.

Hand on heart, a bit of each during the week might stop you from carking it in the street. Which is just undignified and unmanly.

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