Y’all, this is New Orleans. The Early Bird Special starts at 8 pm and the band doesn’t go on before midnight. That’s not just a rumor. Those are the rules.
The good news is that every hour is happy hour. The bad news is that the late nights and rich food of this city will do you in. Many a soul has regretted that 3 am daiquiri and fried pickles run, myself included.
The other bad news is that late night food and liquor become so habitual that you don’t even notice the grey pallor of your skin and the extra ten pounds until you go to someplace crazy, like California or Idaho, where people have tans and eat organic chickpeas or whatever.
I gave up the really late dinner habit almost a year ago, the first time I read Body Thrive. I lost 15 pounds in three months. Yes, I also made other changes, but ditching the midnight pizza was major.
So, when I made Earlier, Lighter Dinners my adventure of the month, I thought, “no problem. I already have this down. Now all I have to do is think of something interesting to say on the blog since I actually have nothing to say.”
Except that I do. Because, somehow in the past year, earlier has gotten later and later and lighter has gotten heavier and heavier. And I gained seven pounds, which, I think, is no coincidence.
Once I started actually tracking my dinner times, I realized that earlier has become 6:30 to 7:30 instead of 5:30-6:30, so I set the goal of eating at least six dinners a week by 7 pm.
Because kaizen, y’all. Small steps are do-able.
Aaaaaand…I did it every week except one. Despite the fact that I had numerous evening social engagements and my father visited from out of town for a week.
Here’s how I ate lightly before 7 pm and still had a social life in a twenty-four hour town:
- I offered to cook. When I had guests over, I invited them to come at 5:30 or 6:00 and made sure we ate before 7:00, dessert included (which I never skip). I love to cook, so it’s no big deal for me to offer to hostess if it means I get to set the terms.
- I ate before I went out. I met people for drinks or hangout time after I had already eaten my quinoa and spinach salad. A side bonus of eating before you go out is that it makes going out A LOT less expensive.
- If I couldn’t eat early, I ate light. When my friend Claire came over for our crafting coven (it is what it sounds like) and made homemade vegan pizza at 7:30, I just didn’t gorge myself. I wanted three pieces and I just had two.
So, then, what happened?
- I lost weight. I don’t know how much because I don’t keep very close track, but I’d guess about 3-4 pounds.
- I went to bed earlier. I hate going to bed with a full stomach, so sometimes if I eat late I end up binge watching until I feel settled enough to sleep. My screen time for the month went down dramatically because I wasn’t trying to find a way to wind down from a late meal.
- I slept better. If my stomach is empty when I fall asleep, I sleep better. And I don’t have nightmares. Incidentally, I had nightmares five out of the five times I ate late during the month. Crazy ones with snakes and exes. Yuck.
In other news, taking control of my late eating habit gave me the confidence to take control of some other habits that have been sliding (like grabbing whatever food is around instead of actually cooking) and made me think carefully about what I eat, at least during dinner time. I ended eating much more nutrient rich, satisfying, and beautiful meals as a result.
So, did my social life suffer? Nope. Not a bit. Actually, I think that I ended up having more interesting conversations and interactions with people when I invited them over for dinner instead of meeting out. Plus, eating early gave us more time to enjoy each other’s company before we got tired.
So, if you think that the early bird special is just for shut ins and retirees, think again. Early is the new late.