Food has always had a special divine status in our Indian tradition so much so as a form of god. This can be learned from the beautiful Upanishad story about the enlightenment of Shevtketu who was the son of the sage Uddalaka.
In the story, Shevtketu returns home after completing his education in Vedas and was very proud of the knowledge gained.
Noticing his pride his father Uddalaka asks him question if he knows who is ‘Bramha’. To this question, Shevtketu responded that it was not part of his curriculum and asked his father to tell the answer.
Uddalaka then tells him to know the answer Shevtketu should fast for 2 weeks continuously to which Shevtketu agrees.
As days pass Uddalaka repeated his question to Shevtketu and Shevtketu tried to answer the question best to learn but by the end of the Shevtketu decided to put his weapons.
And when his father repeated the question who is ‘Brahma’ Shevtketu said he is completely haunted by hunger at the time and for him, except for food, nothing is ‘Brahma’.
This was the lesson his father wanted to teach him and is the learning which is most important in life today ‘Food is God.
And while food must always be respected likewise the time we take the food should also be fixed in a disciplined manner.
In our modern life, we all have accepted a routine of taking breakfast between 9 Am-11 Am, Lunch between 1 Pm – 3 Pm, and dinner sometime between 8 Pm -11 pm.
But have we ever thought if this lifestyle is a proper routine to follow and at the same time are we respecting our food & body with this routine?
When it comes to dinner the common misconception most of us have with its literal meaning, most of us believe dinner’s literal meaning denotes the food we consume the night but that is not the case. As per the English dictionary also dinner is the main meal of the day taken around the evening.
In earlier days people used to start the day quite early with sunrise and tended to end the day by evening and the eating habits were also mapped to this form of lifestyle, but this has considerably changed with our adoption of modern lifestyle.
We all love Akshay Kumar and health enthusiast follows how he promotes adopting a healthy lifestyle and has quoted this many times about how he prefers eating his last meal before sunset and how he has benefitted from this routine.
And this advice has been proven by many researchers over the years where researchers study the relationships between Circadian rhythm and metabolism activity.
Circadian rhythm is our body in built clock which works in a 24- hour cycle, so to illustrate what happens when we sleep do all body functions stop the answer to this question is ‘NO’ as they are managed by our body clock working silently in the background.
Or in other words As the Day transitions to night, your body’s Digestive system and energy-expending system change as well, which may decrease your body’s ability to deal with the fat you eat at that point.
One of the latest research in this area was conducted by the University of Surrey under Dr. Jonathan Johnston, it was a 10-week study focusing on the concept of intermittent fasting where the changes in body metabolism were studied by the change in the time of eating food.
The study focused on the breakfast and dinner times of the participants, so the set of people was divided into 2 groups with one group having to delay breakfast by 90 minutes and the other group having to have dinner 90 minutes earlier.
The study did not restricted participants’ food or dietary choices and at the end of the study, researchers concluded that change in mealtimes helped the participants twice as much as fat those having normal meals.
Maintaining a healthy weight is an important aspect of life irrespective of the age group and at the same time losing weight becomes more difficult as we grow old. So, healthy weight management should be our highest priority at all times.
Best Time to eat Dinner
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that if you’re trying to lose weight when you eat dinner compared to when you go to bed might play a key role.
The ideal time to eat dinner is between 6-6:30 pm.
As we discussed above it all aligns with your circadian rhythm. This typically means eating dinner at least 3-4 hours before bedtime and this is the most important tip for anyone who wants to lose weight.
Late Dinner cause Weight gain
When you fall asleep, your metabolic Rate drops; you’re less mobile, exercising, or doing other things that require a lot of energy. So if our body is burning less fat, one of the reasons could be immediately becoming inactive after eating.
Should I eat a light Dinner?
Having a light or low-calorie dinner can help you to lose weight and include other health benefits also. Benefits of eating early and light dinner included lower blood pressure, better sleep; improve digestion, better metabolism to reduce obesity risk, control blood sugar, and thus hunger and craving.
Try to have dinner early, roughly around 3-4hours before you sleep at the same time selecting a light meal at the time of dinner also helps reduce many health issues.
Kind of Food to be Included and Avoid in Dinner to lose weight:
Look for things that are high in fiber, lean proteins, or fruits and vegetables Khichdi, curd rice, vegetable stew, homemade soups, Bowl of Salad, Grilled fish/Chicken, Tofu, Paneer, Oats Idli, Vegetable Uttapam, quinoa, Bowl of Lentils are good options
Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated and it is necessary for your digestion and metabolism. Our bodies easily mistake thirst for hunger causing us to consume more calories than we require.
You should avoid Fried food, sugary, salty foods, and avoid foods with a lot of carbohydrates.
Tips to avoid overeating:
People overeat at night for a variety of reasons that often have little to do with hunger, from satisfying cravings to coping with boredom or stress. And even after-dinner craving for late-night snacks is not new.
Also since this is the laziest time of our day our choice of snack is usually a high-calorie food something chips, cookies, candy, or ice cream.
In this situation, it’s all too easy to consume the entire bag or container before you realize it. These additional calories not only cause body weight issues but are a major reason for problems like indigestion and sleeping disorders.
1. Food Portion size is important
Eating too much or not enough of any type of food can lead to many health problems. The appropriate portion size of food is the key to reaching your ideal body weight goal with other health benefits.
The larger the portion size more time it will take to digest it properly. So listen to your body when you are having your meal. Don’t starve yourself or skip your meals as it can make you nutrient deficient with a lot of other health issues.
2. Try eating off a small plate:
When people use small dinnerware or small plates results in eating less food than people using larger dinnerware.
Eating off a small size plate is a smart idea to eat a small portion of food which means consuming fewer calories which ultimately aids in weight loss.
3. Avoid skipping meals:
Skipping meals is not good for health. Every meal is important and it should be on time as skipping meals may result in weight gain or make it harder if you want to lose weight.
Usually, when you don’t eat you make your body deprived of essential nutrients and this causes your body to crave high-calorie-dense food.
4. Avoid the Race to Finish the Food
While we eat at a pace we tend to invite a lot of problems and the only solution to those problems is to moderate our speed of eating food.
When we eat at a moderate speed we also tend to have improved digestion, improved hydration levels, body weight management, and above all a satisfying feeling at the end of our meal.
Many studies confirm that just by eating slower, you’ll consume fewer calories — in fact, enough to lose weight without doing anything different or eating anything different. The reason is that it takes about 15-20 minutes for our brains to register that we’re full.
The speed of eating the food should not be at a high pace as we would then never realize when we have crossed the line to overeat. So if you are looking for weight loss eating slowly should be a part of your new lifestyle.
5. Avoid The Carving For Second Serving
For some reason, people usually tend to always go for a second serving during their meal time. Dinner time is the time when we cook food in abundance and we usually lost track of our calorie count.
In this case, eating slowly is the key factor that helps you to avoid overeating or second serving. But if you desperately want a second serving then you can have two small servings or prefer low-calorie food items like veggies or salad. This trick will help you to feel full.
6. Avoid distraction (like TV)
Our body is like a complex system and each function we perform is linked back to the mental controls held in our brain. Each activity that we do happens through a complex system of interlinked signals that our brain sends across.
The same thing happens when we eat food, much research has proven that it’s highly important to concentrate on food while we are eating to maintain a healthy body weight ratio and avoidance of overeating.
It’s a fact that while we are eating our brain takes about 20mins to send out a signal that we are not hungry anymore and imagines if we are not concentrating while we are eating the number of calories that we could end up consuming.
And Surprise!!! Surprise!!! What could be our biggest distraction that could trigger the situation of not concentrating on food while having a meal, yes you guessed it right, it’s our very own television and now you also know the reason why it is also called an idiot box.
7. Avoid Packed or Processed Ready-To-Eat Foods
As the saying goes we become what we consume it’s highly important t watch out for what we a having in our meals.
Life today does not always provide us if the opportunity to think about what we are eating leading to a situation of health problems and overweight.
Processed food becomes the biggest blocker in our road to success of ideal weight management and the reason is associated with its ingredients.
Processed foods are usually manufactured with the objective of bulk sales and this could only come through taste this leads to most of the time preparation of such food items high levels of sugar, salts & fats, and regular or long-term consumption of these would cause health impact.
So the best thing that could be done in this case is limit or to avoid these food items as much as possible and definitely not consumed them very late in the day.
8. Avoid stress
Emotional eating is defined as eating to overcome or comfort your negative emotions, thoughts, stress, sadness, anger, fear, anxiety, and loneliness. Emotional eating can sabotage your weight loss journey.
It often leads to too much eating, especially high-calorie dense food items like fried n fatty or sugary items.
Emotions have a high impact on our eating patterns and this varies from person to person, emotional eating is also called impulsive or binge, anyone in this state tends to eat at pace and in high frequency.
Although this emotional phase may stay for a short period of time it may tend to impact the weight loss goals and journey of an individual highly in a negative manner as the zeal to meet the weight loss target also get lost even sometimes leading to negative emotions like food guilt.
9. Know your trigger food items
Emotional eating or binge eating disorder (BED) is a serious condition involving making a person feel completely powerless against the urge to eat specific food items. It may feel like a strong compulsion.
There is also a pattern to the kind of food items usually having a high content of calories which are collaborated by combinations of sugar, fat, and salt. This condition could be controlled by exercise, meditation, or specialized consultation.
10. Eat fiber-rich food
Fiber is a natural and healthy carbohydrate. There are lots of surprising benefits of a fiber-rich diet. A fiber-rich diet makes you feel fuller faster, so it helps you to maintain a healthy weight. It has also been linked with easier weight loss and low risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and bowel cancer.
Note: Quantity of fiber should be gradually added and also modulated as consuming excessive fiber in a frequent duration could cause certain digestive problems like gas, cramps, and bloating.
Low-Calorie Indian Dinner For Weight Loss
|Days||Diet Plan Chart|
|Monday||Grilled paneer + sauté vegetables|
|Tuesday||Vegetable khichdi+ Raita+salad|
|Wednesday||Quinoa salad + mixed vegetable soup|
|Thursday||Savory oats with lots of vegetables+salad|
|Friday||1-2 roti + lauki( bottle gourd) chana dal veg+salad|
|Saturday||1 Missi roti+1 bowl Mix veg+salad|
|Sunday||2 mix veg stuffed roti + curd+salad|
(Non-vegetarian can replace any day meal with grilled fish/chicken with sauté veg or fish/chicken curry with 1-2 multigrain chapatti)
Low-Calorie Indian Recipes for Dinner
a) Grilled Paneer or Tofu with Sauté Vegetables.
1. Heat a pan. Add 1 tsp of Olive oil.
2. Grill 150 grams of Paneer (or Tofu) with a pinch of salt. Grill well from both sides and take that out and cut it into pieces.
3. In the same pan add 1 tsp Olive oil add 2-3 cloves of garlic, green chili (optional) 1-2 inch piece of
ginger cook it for sometime
4. Add diced onion, capsicum, beans, broccoli, carrots, or any other vegetables of your choice n cook it for 2-3 minutes on high flame.
5. Add salt and lemon. And it’s ready to eat.
b) Moong dal Vegetable Khichdi
1. Firstly, in a pressure cooker heat 1 tbsp ghee/Oil and sauté 1 bay leaf, 2 pods cardamom, 2 cloves, 1 tsp cumin, and a pinch of Asafetida( Hing).
2. Continue to sauté 1 onion followed by 1 slit green chili and 1 tsp ginger garlic paste.
3. Add vegetables like peas (2 tbsp), a quarter of carrot, and some capsicum (2 tbsp). Sauté for a minute.
4. Now add ¼ tsp turmeric, ½ tsp chili powder, ½ tsp garam masala, and 1 tsp salt. Sauté on low flame.
5. Furthermore, add ½ cup rice and ½ cup moong dal. Sauté for a minute on low flame.
6. Now add 3 and 1/2 cup water and 2 tbsp coriander leaves. Mix well.
7. Cover and pressure cook for 4-5 whistles on medium flame.
8. Finally, serve masala khichdi with plain curd or Raita.
c) Quinoa Salad
1. Rinse quinoa a few times in water, strain, and boil in 1½ cups of water for 5-7 minutes. Move away from heat & then add 1 teaspoon olive oil, and set aside.
2. Combine quinoa, tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, and chopped coriander in a bowl. Mix well.
3. Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper powder in another bowl.
4. Add grilled paneer (or Tofu) 50 gm (optional). Mix well and add to salad. Toss to mix.
5. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve immediately.
d) Savory oats:
1. Add oil once it’s hot adding cumin or mustard seeds, green chilies, ginger, and onions (skip if you don’t eat).
2. Add tomatoes and other vegetables of your choice
3. Add spices turmeric, and red chili and cook it for some time.
4. Add oats, water, and salt and mix well then close the lid and cook it for around 5-6 minutes.
5. At last add lemon and coriander leaves and mix well everything and it’s ready to eat.
e) Lauki(bottle gourd) Channa dal
1. Rinse ¼ cup of chana dal (Bengal gram or split and hulled black chickpeas) and soak the same for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour. Drain the water and keep the lentils aside.
2. Heat 1 to1.5 tsp of oil/ghee in a pressure cooker. Crackle ½ to ¾ teaspoon of cumin seeds, a pinch of Asafetida, and 2-3 cloves (laung).
3. Add 1 finely chopped onion (about ½ cup chopped onions) and sauté stirring often until they become translucent.
4. Add 1 inch of finely chopped ginger, and 1 chopped green chili and sauté for 10 to 15 seconds.
5. Now add 2 medium finely chopped tomatoes (about 1-1.5 cup finely chopped tomatoes)
6. Add ¼ teaspoon of turmeric, ¼ teaspoon of red chili powder, and ½ teaspoon of garam masala powder, and Continue to stir and sauté until the tomatoes soften.
8. Add ¼ cup of chana dal, around 2 cups of peeled and chopped bottle gourd(Lauki), and salt (as per taste).
9. Please check the bottle gourd if it tastes bitter please discard it. Stir and mix well.
10. Then pour 1 cup of water into the pressure cooker and stir.
11. Cover the pressure cooker with the lid and cook for 4 to 5 whistles on medium heat. The curry should have a medium consistency.
12. Add the coriander leaves and stir. You can also garnish the curry with coriander leaves (1 to 1.5 tablespoons).
13. Serve lauki chana dal veg hot or warm with roti or Rice.
f) Mix Veg
1. Firstly heat 1-2 tsp oil and saute cumin seeds, bay leaves, asafetida,
2. Saute 1 onion and 1 tsp ginger garlic paste.
3. Further add turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder, and 1 tsp salt. saute well.
4. Add tomato puree and cook well.
5. Add ½ cup whisked curd. Stir continuously.
6. Now add roasted or steamed mix vegetables and mix well.
7. Add ½ cup water and cook for another 10 minutes.
8. Turn off the flame and add 1 tsp Kasuri methi and 2 tbsp coriander. Mix well.
9. Finally, serve mix vegetable curry/mix veg recipe with hot roti.
g) Soya Matar Sabzi
1. To make Soya Chunk & Green Peas Sabzi, first, we need to soak the soya chunks in hot water for at least 30 minutes. If you want You can replace soya chunks with soya granules.
2. Grind the tomatoes along with green chili and ginger to a smooth puree and keep it aside.
3. Heat a pan with 1-2tsp oil, add ½ tsp cumin seeds and allow it to splutter for a few seconds. Once done, add bay leaf and tomato puree.
4. Sprinkle a little salt and cook until the tomatoes are cooked or for about 4 to 5 minutes. Add all the dry spice powders including red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder, and salt, and cook for another 10 minutes.
5. Squeeze out all the water from the soya chunks and add them into the kadhai or pan and mix well. Let it cook for about 2 to 3 minutes.
6. Once the chunks are cooked properly, add green peas and sprinkle little water. Close it with the lid and cook for about 10 more minutes and serve hot.
7. Serve the Soya Chunk & Green Peas Sabzi Recipe along with roti and 1 small bowl of vegetable raita.
h) Black channa (black chickpeas) chaat:
1. Rinse a few times in fresh water and then soak the dried black chickpeas overnight or for 8 to 9 hours in enough water.
2. In a pressure cooker, add the soaked chickpeas with enough water covering 1 to 1.5 inches above the chickpeas.
3. Pressure cook for 4-5 whistle minutes and cook it more for 10 min on low to medium heat or till the chickpeas are cooked tender.
4. Once the pressure settles down naturally, and then only open the lid of the cooker. Check if it is done or not. And if the chickpeas still look undercooked then again pressure cook for some more minutes. Add water if needed while pressure cooking again.
5. Once cooked till softened, drain all the water.
6. Take finely chopped onion, tomatoes, green chili, coriander leaves, cucumber, or any other salad leaves and some pomegranate seeds if you like for that sweet n crunch taste.
7. Take a large bowl adds all your ingredients (chopped vegetables and chickpeas) together and mix well. You can also make this recipe with other peas like white or green chickpeas or you can mix two or more according to your choice.
You can also add sprouts (Moong, beans) it will enhance the taste. You could also use cooked black-eyed beans or any other beans of your choice.
8. If you have handy canned cooked chickpeas (fresh is always better), then the chaat will be ready in 5-10 minutes. Excellent even with some whole meal toasted bread.
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Early and light dinner is the key to burning fat faster with numerous health benefits. The results from the 2021 journal nutrient also confirm that people skipping dinner regularly are more likely to gain weight for a longer duration when compare to people having a moderate and light diet as dinner.
If you liked this article then please share it so that we can help as many people in India to lose weight by eating low-calorie dinner.