Ask a Health Coach: How to Stay on Track After Hours

romantic couple watching television at homeYou know that black hole of time between work and bed? There’s nowhere to go, nothing new to watch, and a bottle of wine (or bag of chips) calling your name from the other room. Call it the pandemic happy hour or straight-up boredom, but if you’re using your after hours time in a less-than-ideal way, check out this week’s post from PHCI Coaching Director, Erin Power. And keep your questions coming in our Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook Group or below in the comments.

Ann Marie asked:

I don’t have a problem eating healthy during the day, but I can’t seem to control myself after dinner. I just feel ravenous, even when we’ve made a healthy meal. I try to hold out but once my husband goes into the kitchen for a snack, I’m right there with him. And once I start, I can’t stop eating!! How do I tame my late-night cravings?

I think it’s safe to say that your eating cycle is off, Ann Marie. What do I mean by eating cycle? It has to do with your circadian rhythm.https://stm.sciencemag.org/content/9/415/eaal2774‘>2

This study looked at the behaviours of night-shift workers and found that they have a 43% higher risk of obesity than their 1st shift counterparts. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413118302535‘>4 The group whose window ended at 3pm had dramatically lower insulin levels, reduced blood pressure, and a significantly decreased appetite. More information on Intermittent Fasting here. 

  • Stop grazing throughout the day. I’m a huge advocate of always answering hunger with a meal versus grabby something snacky. Make it a habit to sit down (and slow down) for your meals, ensuring you’re in a parasympathetic state so you can properly digest your food.
  • Michael asked:

    My glass-of-wine-a-night habit is getting a little out of hand. I used to have a glass here and there, but lately I’ve found myself pouring multiple glasses every night. Think I need to go cold turkey? Or do you recommend a healthier substitute?

    I can’t tell you how often I’ve gotten questions like this – especially over the past 9 months. While in the past, you might have had a commute or trip to the gym to decompress from your day, now there’s no real distinction between work and leisure. There’s no change of scenery and no change of people to interact with. Enter wine (or whatever your escape of choice happens to be).

    I don’t necessarily think you have to go cold turkey, unless you’ve noticed that alcohol in general is a problem for you.https://www.uchealth.org/today/five-reasons-water-is-so-important-to-your-health/‘>6 But if you enjoy having your nightly glass of wine, I’ve got a few strategies to help you reel it back in.

    1. Support your body with nourishing food. Preparing and enjoying a satiating meal can help you tap the breaks on filling up on less-than-nourishing choices. Alcohol turns to sugar in the body, so loading up on protein and healthy fats can keep those cravings at bay.
    2. Drink a non-alcoholic beverage first. Got a favorite alcohol-free drink? Pour a glass of bubbly water or kombucha before diving into the adult version. You might find that you don’t even want your drink of choice afterward. But if you do, go for it! Heck, you can even use a wine glass if you feel like being fancy.
    3. Distract yourself. Seems simple enough, but if you’re bored or stressed or not sure how to spend your downtime, finding a way to change your situation can keep you from polishing off a bottle of cab. Even though you’re probably home all day, I’m sure there are areas of your house that could use some attention. So, start a load of laundry. Iron that pile of clean clothes you’ve been staring at all month. Or clean the clutter off your desk.

    Between the pandemic and the holidays, the kind of stress we’re under is unprecedented, so it’s natural that alcohol plays a role here, but it doesn’t have to derail your entire evening.

    Peter asked:

    Even though I’m working from home, my days are packed and the only time I have to work out is after dinner. Problem is, I’m so exhausted by then that all I want to do is lay on the couch. I’m not overweight and my fitness level is pretty good. I’m wondering, how bad is it to take a break from exercising for a while?

    If your fitness level is generally good, taking a few days or weeks off isn’t going to impact your muscle-to-fat ratio that much. That said, there are tons of studies like this one that prove daily exercise can improve your immune function, which is especially important right now.

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