Q: I work weird hours and get up at lunchtime. Usually I don’t get to eat dinner until eleven at night. How can I still eat healthy meals daily?
-Kiran Virk, Surrey, BC
A: “You’d be surprised how many people work ‘weird’ hours,” says Christine Hanlan, a registered holistic nutritionist based in Toronto—she works with many who are up for part or most of the night. “Regarding nutrition and healthy eating, though, the same guidelines apply no matter what your schedule is,” says Hanlan.
To start, she recommends a meal soon after you wake up to kick-start your metabolism and energy, and to keep your energy and blood sugars steady by eating every three hours (during your hours awake, that is). “If you let your blood sugars get too low you’ll feel tired mentally and physically, and for most people low blood sugars lead to cravings for the unhealthy foods and beverages that are to be avoided on a healthy diet,” says Hanlan. Eating every three hours usually translates to three meals and two to three snacks a day, adds the Toronto-based nutritionist. She suggests balanced meals and snacks that each includes protein and fruit or vegetables.
As for when to have your last meal or snack, she recommends eating your last one approximately three hours before bed. Don’t chow down on just anything, though. “To maintain a healthy body composition,” says Hanlan, “the last meal before bed should be the smallest with less emphasis on starchy carbohydrates, such as rice, pasta, breads, corn and potatoes.”
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