Early dinners may help prevent cancer: Here are 4 perfect meals to avoid late-night munchies

By Prudence Wade. Published 2020-09-16
BOLD-Food
They’re easy to make and – more importantly – won’t have you hovering around the fridge come 10pm.

There’s nothing worse than eating dinner a bit later than anticipated, and then lying in bed with an uncomfortably full stomach. Not only does this mean you struggle to drift off and feel sluggish the next day, but there might also be health ramifications for resorting to too many late-night meals.

New findings in a study published in the International Journal of Cancer revealed that the later people ate dinner, the more likely they were to develop breast or prostate cancer.

Eating dinner before 9pm, or waiting two hours after finishing the meal before going to bed, was found to be linked to a 26% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, and 16% lower chance for breast cancer – compared with eating dinner after 10pm or going straight to sleep after. According to the researchers, this might be related to the effect that eating meals too close to bedtime can have on our circadian rhythm – the internal ‘body clock’ that regulates things like sleep and hormones.

However, we all know that eating early comes with its own dangers – the dreaded late-night munchies. We’re people of limited will-power, and many of us will rush to the fridge for a pre-bed snack to stave off the hunger pangs.

What’s the solution? Well if you are going to try and stick to a regular, not-too-late dinnertime, it’s important to make it a meal that won’t leave you yearning for a 10pm treat.

Here are four supper suggestions that will keep you full until bedtime…

  1. Savoury oatmeal with miso butter

Sure, oatmeal might seem more like a breakfast than dinner dish, but hear us out. This ‘Dishing up the Dirt’ recipe for savoury oatmeal is packed full of veggies and feels like dinner thanks to the addition of miso.

Not only this, but it will keep you full for hours afterwards. This is in part because oats are a killer source of fibre – something which will come up time and time again as being great for satiety. Also, the viscosity (the ‘slimy’ feel as you eat the oats) actually contributes to a feeling of fullness too. You can mix up this recipe any way you want, adding any veg in your fridge to oatmeal.

Plus, adding a fried egg into the mix provides around 6g of protein, which is no mean amount. Eggs often seen as a great way to help maintain a healthy weight, as protein-rich foods are proven to fill you up longer.

  1. Chicken quinoa burrito bowls

White rice shouldn’t be a go-to if you want to feel full, because as a refined carbohydrate it’s digested quickly and your body processes it into sugar. Quinoa is a much better shout – it has twice the protein content of rice, and as it contains all amino acids, it’s a complete protein too. Couple this with the fact it’s also full of fibre, and it’s the perfect choice for dinner.

Sub out white rice from your evening meal with this recipe from ‘Gimme some Oven’ for chicken and quinoa burrito bowls, and the extra protein source from the chicken will also keep you full for hours.

It’s totally your prerogative whether to have this meal with a margarita or not – just remember, while an alcoholic drink might send you to sleep quicker, the sleep you do have is likely to be more disrupted.

  1. Lentil dahl

Not to sound like a broken record, but the real key to staying fuller for longer is having a combination of protein and fibre in your meal. Lentils tick both those boxes, and is also a really high-quality carb so will release energy slowly after you’ve eaten.

And what better way to really reap the benefits of lentils than with a bowl full of them? This ‘Delicious Everyday’ dahl recipe will do the trick. Much like oatmeal, it’s got the kind of texture that makes you feel full, and it’s also naturally low in calories – so you can eat a relatively big bowl and feel stuffed for long afterwards.

Sure, it’s full of nutrients and general goodness, but it’s also cheap, easy and tasty, making it a perfect weeknight meal.

  1. Baked potato with beans

Definitely don’t overlook the humble potato. In fact, a study into the relative satiety of different foods found boiled potatoes to be the best – they are apparently seven times more filling than a croissant.

Boiled potatoes aren’t exactly the most exciting of dinner options however, which is why we offer up the universally loved baked variation. Top with baked beans for protein (remember, this really is the nutrient of choice if you want to feel full for longer), and cheese for calcium (OK, science doesn’t say Cheddar will keep you full for hours, but it’s a must for any baked potato, isn’t it?) and you’re good to go.

Chances are you don’t need a recipe for this one, just chuck your spud in the oven and get ready for deliciousness.