Healthy Lifestyles: Eliminating Ice Box Raids

by Paul Blustein

In previous articles we talked about the difficulties what many of us do when we first walk in the front door from a hard day at work. Yep, raid the ice box. This week we will continue and show you ways to stop that routine and get on to more serious and much needed changes in our lifestyles.

Here is something that definitely stops that raid on the ice box. It will take courage, but what a way to go especially if you get your spouse, or partner to help with the last part of this idea. We will not be held responsible for what new developments that may arise from this routine.

Instead of changing your diet, Garcia prescribes three weekly workouts, followed by a massage. That physical exercise, he explains, stimulates the body to produce another sort of natural opiate, endorphins, neurotransmitters that help the body relax.

Another place to break the curse is in the aisles of the local A & P. Not surprisingly, people who buy super size products end up eating more. "Availability creates craving," says Stephen Gullo. Instead of a pint of Häagen-Dazs sorbet, buy individual servings. You'll end up eating less. Variety is another villain. "If you've got five different types of fat-free cookies in the house, you'll consume more than if you have just one kind," he says. The Gullo mantra: Boring is beautiful, or at least less fattening.

Gullo says, instead of vacuuming the refrigerator for leftovers, consider a cup of nonfat soup as an early-evening appetizer. A study by the department of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine indicates that soup works as a powerful appetite suppressant. (The fact that soup is perceived as satisfying may be one reason it really is more filling, the study suggests.)

"It's important to actually sit down at the dinner table," says dietitian Gail Becker. It takes your brain 20 minutes to realize that you are eating. Studies show that if you eat on the run, or if you eat while working or watching TV, your awareness of actually eating is not high. The result is that you will generally end up consuming more calories than you need.

Night crawlers should also consider arranging their evenings so that they don't end up with too much unstructured time or food on their hands. "Think about making your trip to the gym at night," says David Heber, director of the U.C.L.A. Center for Human Nutrition. "The fact is, if you're exercising, you're not at home eating more than you should be." But to avoid landing in the kitchen in lawnmower mode after a particularly tough Spinning class, Heber warns, keep up blood-sugar levels by eating a yogurt or a protein bar before working out.

Studies vary on the effects of late-night eating. Nutritionists do agree that it generally is not a good idea to have a huge meal before going to sleep, if only because the body's metabolism slows at night. Which means that the mega bowl of food stuffs wolfed down at 10 p.m. has no place left to go but to your thighs. Also, says Oz Garcia, Most of the body's repair is done during sleep. The gut needs to rest. If your stomach is full, you rekindle the whole digestive system, and all that work disrupts your sleep patterns. This may explain why a woman wakes up exhausted and famished if she gorged late at night, even if she thinks she got enough sleep.

The key to controlling night eating isn't deprivation. The simplest way to prevent it is to cut down on coffee and to make sure that the body is fed well and consistently throughout the day. To maintain steady blood-sugar levels, most nutritionists now recommend eating something every three or four hours: a light breakfast before leaving home, a mid-morning snack at the office, a low-fat lunch with a mixture of protein and carbohydrates, and a snack at the end of the day to stave off those early-evening munch feasts. And there's nothing wrong with dessert, so long as it's in moderation. The word for sweets is 'occasional,' says Gullo. Or at least make it fat-free. You can have a fat-free sorbet pop every day without guilt.

Even nutritionists cut women a little slack when it comes to bedtime snacks. Milk and cookies never killed anyone as long as the cookies and milk are fat-free. Better yet is a cup of fat-free yogurt. Not only should it satisfy a sweet tooth but milk (and milk products) contain tryptophan, an amino acid that has a sedating effect. "Sleep comes more easily if you have something soothing at the end of the day," says David Seres, an internist who specializes in nutrition at the Beth Israel and St. Vincent's medical centers in New York City.

The next time the clock strikes ten and the icebox beckons, remember the words of Stephen Gullo: "The bad news is that the majority of my patients have gained weight at night with food they have brought home and eaten. The good news is that it is one of the easiest weight problems to correct."

That's all for today, stay healthy,


You can reach Paul at

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