It is important to maintain a good lifestyle in order to keep your body fit and healthy. Just as breakfast is an important daily meal, dinner is key as well.
Dinner provides the body with essential nutrients it needs to function while you are asleep. A healthy, light dinner also helps you enjoy sound and restful sleep. On top of that, dinner is the most likely meal to be a group activity, giving you time to interact with family and friends.
People often ignore the importance of a healthy meal before retiring for the day, or they make poor choices for their dinner menu. Your dinner must include salad, soup and a simple side dish.
Health experts recommend having dinner at least 2 hours before going to bed. Eat in moderation and avoid caffeinated drinks or alcoholic beverages at dinner.
Moreover, there are many things you need to do—or not—before and after eating dinner for optimal health.
Here are the top 10 healthy things to remember before and after eating your dinner.
1. Drink Warm Water
Drink a glass of lukewarm water 30 minutes before a meal to aid digestion. In addition, this glass of water will keep you satiated and prevent overeating during dinner.
You can sip a little water during your meal to help swallow your food. Avoid drinking too much water as it can impair digestion.
After dinner, wait for at least one-half hour and then drink a glass of warm water. Slightly warm water helps helps break down the food in your stomach and aids digestion. This helps the body absorb nutrients.
2. Do Not Sleep Immediately
After enjoying a warm dinner, many people are tempted to go to bed right away. However, doing so can be detrimental. Lying down after having a meal can slow down the process of digestion. It may also make you feel bloated and can lead to heartburn.
Wait for at least 2 hours before going to the bed. During this time, you can go for a walk, do dishes, prepare things for the next day or spend time with your children. The point is to do anything other than collapse on the couch or go straight to bed after a meal.
3. Take a Short Walk
After dinner and before going to bed wait 30 minutes and then go for a walk. There is no need for an hour-long walk. You can simply enjoy a short 15– to 20–minute stroll in or near your house.
Walking is good exercise for your whole body. It will help you digest your food and prevent bloating and upset tummy. If you do not like walking, keep a pet to inspire you to walk after dinner.
4. Avoid Heavy Exercise
Walking is an ideal exercise after eating your dinner. However, heavy exercises late at night are not a healthy option. A late-night workout, especially a cardio session, raises the body temperature significantly, preventing the release of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycles. This means exercising late at night can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
Moreover, your body will be trying to digest your dinner, leaving you feeling sluggish and lethargic during heavy exercise. It also increases the chance of getting stomach pain or cramping.
5. Brush Your Teeth
It’s important to brush your teeth properly soon after eating but not immediately. Wait 30 minutes and then brush your teeth. For overall oral health, the American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth before going to bed. This will help remove plaque and neutralize the pH of your mouth, keeping your teeth clean and healthy.
You must also brush for 2 minutes. Brush each section of your teeth for 30 seconds – top left, top right, bottom left and bottom right. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and good quality toothpaste.
6. Do Not Smoke
Smokers may be tempted to have an after-dinner cigarette, but resist the urge. Smoking is bad all the time, but smoking after a meal encourages heartburn by relaxing your lower esophageal sphincter.
In addition, smoking worsens symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome as well as ulcerative colitis (a stomach ulcer). Smoking also has a bad effect on colon muscles.
Cigarettes contain as many as 60 carcinogens that increase cancer risk, and the nicotine in them is highly addictive. Plus, it can disrupt your sleep cycle.
7. Avoid Taking a Shower
Taking a shower or a bath after eating dinner can interfere with the process of digestion. Digestion requires a lot of energy and a good amount of blood flow toward the stomach. When you take a bath or shower right after eating dinner, it causes a slight decrease in body temperature.
It is advisable to wait at least 30 to 45 minutes after any meal before bathing. If possible, take a shower or bath before dinner and change into a light outfit.
8. Wear Loose Clothes
If you are having dinner at home, wear loose and comfortable clothes. Tight-fitting clothes put pressure on your abdomen that can contribute to heartburn. If you are having dinner out, change into comfortable clothes when you get home.
In addition, light and loose-fitting clothes help you sleep better. Wearing tight-fitting clothing at bedtime can raise your body temperature, which can disturb your sleep.
9. Do Not Loosen Your Belt
If you feel the need to loosen your belt during or after dinner, it simply indicates you have overeaten. The habit of loosening your belt after a heavy meal can loosen your abdominal muscles, leading to a big bulging belly.
So, eat only to the extent that you can be comfortable without loosening your belt! Moreover, dinner should be light and not heavy, which will slow down digestion.
10. Say No to Fruits
Fruits are a healthy addition to your diet, but eating fruits right after dinner is not healthy. It is difficult for the body to digest fruits properly if you eat them immediately after dinner. Also, the sugar content in fruit is likely to keep you awake and hinder digestion.
It is better to eat fruit 30 minutes before dinner. People who have diabetes must carefully choose fruits as the sugar content in many can increase the blood sugar level.