Body Tricks

sundial is like your circadian rhythms To those of you who are now following us via email, we did send out the tentative Cupcake Time Diet Plan on Wednesday night. If you didn’t get a copy of it, let us know and we’ll happily forward you one.

We have really learned a lot during our adventures with dieting. Failure is not always a bad thing because it can teach you lessons you never knew you needed to learn, even if it does keep you in your fat pants. This is one thing we did learn: if you eat late at night, you will gain weight.

When the kids were little, Sherry always gave them a Midnight Snack. This was a small snack that was part of their bedtime routine – first they would get into their jammies (bath time some nights but not always), then a snuggle in bed with Sherry while we read a book together (we read everything from Where the Red Fern Grows to The Black Cauldron Trilogy to Anna Karenina), and, lastly, a Midnight Snack before tuck ins.  We laughingly called it Midnight Snack because it always felt so late when  snack time rolled around (usually 9:30 p.m.).  In fact, Sherry played a pretty good April Fool’s joke on Brooke when she was around 6 years old (Brooke claims she is still in need of therapy because of this and says you should not try this at home).  You see, Brooke would often fall asleep early in the evening and wake up just in time for her bedtime routine.  So on the morning of April 1st, Sherry convinced Brooke it was nighttime as she woke her early in the morning. A sleepy little Brooke joined her sisters for a Midnight Snack of brownies and milk.  It was dark (just like it was at night when Brooke would wake up in time for her snack) and Brooke was still a little drowsy (typical) and pretty anxious to return to her warm bed for the night. As they finished the last bits of their brownies, the sun began to rise. Brooke was confused and panicked to think that the sun had forgotten it was night time and she would now be required to stay awake “all night” and wait for another night to show up.  For a long time, she could not be convinced that she had actually slept through the night – she is sure she was somehow cheated out of a full night’s sleep. 

Anyway, Midnight Snack time remains an endearing part of our bedtime routine.  However, during the past few years the midnight snack seems to have grown in direct proportion with our weight. And it no longer is part of our bedtime routine; it seems to have become a part of our stay up routine.  We found ourselves working late into the evening and then actually eating our Midnight Snack, well, at midnight to wake us up so we could stay awake even longer. Soon we were shocked to find our clothes telling us we were fat with every zip and every button. We shook our heads in disbelief because we were gaining weight while, at the same time, generally eating less and trying to lose weight. It wasn’t until we started trying different diets, that we realized that we were eating late at night to create enough energy to stay awake. Late night eating – when your body is ready for bed – increases weight because your body is converting those calories into fat. Just like poor Brooke watching the sun come up, your body can be confused and left to operate at less than optimum capacity when your activities don’t match the time of day.

Your circadian rhythms create a continuous loop wherein your body knows when to store energy (i.e., bedtime) and when to prepare to use it (i.e., breakfast time). Your thyroid gland gives you a great big dose of thyroxin as your feet hit the ground each morning to prepare you to be awake and alert for your day. You need to treat yourself to a good breakfast (even if you hate breakfast) in order to keep your food intake aligned with your circadian rhythms so you enjoy can enjoy optimal health and energy.  Skipping breakfast can make you fat, too.

So, if you want to lose weight, don’t eat at night. Instead, go to bed and get a good night’s rest. Sure there are times when you’ll need to stay up late but if you find yourself staying up past 11:00 p.m. on a regular basis you’re doing yourself a disfavor.  Getting adequate sleep and eating only during the times when you are most likely to expend energy are two of the most important tips for being healthy and maintaining a healthy weight. Doing otherwise will leave you exhausted and weighing more than you want. Who needs that?

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