Just because you had to work late doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy, nourishing dinner. Here’s how to make sure your meal stacks up, according to a dietitian.

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So the last train home is delayed or maybe the only Pilates class left with spaces is the late one… or maybe you are just stuck at work late. I know for me, sometimes I won’t walk in the door until after 8pm. And, given our fast paced, 24/7 lives, sometimes eating late just can’t be avoided.

If this is you, there are a few things you can do to ensure you are still achieving your health goals. Here’s how.

RELATED: The simple food swaps you haven’t thought of that will help you lose weight (like replacing cider with beer, for starters)

Never have an empty kitchen

Having healthy, quick and easy options for when you walk in the door late makes having a healthy dinner on the table in a few minutes relatively easy. Keep your pantry, fridge and freezer stocked with healthy options, so you can whip up a dinner in 15 minutes flat. I like to keep canned tuna or salmon in the pantry, fresh veggies in the fridge and cooked or frozen legumes – such as chickpeas – as well as frozen veggies in the freezer. Eggs make for a quick and easy omelette (packed with loads of protein), and if you freeze soups or casseroles ahead of time, those late nights won’t leave you reaching for a food-delivery app. Last but not least, using your stockpile of frozen bananas for a quick and easy smoothie can work wonders, and give you a boost before you cook up something delicious.

Plan ahead

If you know ahead of time you’ll be home late, plan the day around it. Have a more substantial meal for lunch, along with a bigger snack in the afternoon to avoid any feeling hungry, and plan a light meal for dinner. If you know you’ll be at the office late, bring dinner in with you, or buy another meal when you’re out at lunchtime to eat later while you’re getting that report done.

Make friends with your slow cooker

This has been a life changer for me. Slow cooked meat, to put with a quick and easy salad of ingredients I’ve chopped up ahead of time, makes a delicious feed that you’ll be looking forward to getting home to – regardless of the time. If you’re going to be super late, a vegetable-based casserole may be a better option due to meat taking a little longer to digest. Have something that’s ready when you walk in the door that you’ve been looking forward to is a nice way to start your evening at home, too.

Choose something that is easy to digest

While you don’t want to choose something that will digest so quickly you wake up starving, choosing something that will digest a little more simply is a good idea. If dinner isn’t going to be until around 9pm, choosing well cooked vegetables and easy to digest protein (such as eggs or fish) means you won’t be going to bed with a heavy stomach, which can cause a disrupted sleep.

RELATED: The 20-minute dinners you need to add to your high rotation

Drink plenty of water

If you don’t drink enough water during the day, the chances of over eating, especially when you’re hungry and tired when you get home, skyrocket. Ensuring you’ve drunk enough water during the day will help manage this. (Check out which water option is best here.)

Something else to consider when you get home late from work, is taking the time to unwind.

It can be tempting to walk through the door, chow down, and then take yourself to bed. Taking some time out to relax before you hit the hay can help you fall asleep; whether it’s an episode of your favourite series on Netflix, a chapter of your new book, a couple of calming stretches, or (best choice!) meditating for 10 minutes. As long as it’s something to help switch your mind off.

So, what would be my perfect late night meal? A vegetable omelette, or a yummy vegetable soup.

Chloe McLeod is an accredited practicing dietitian. For more from Chloe, head here.

October 26, 20161:37pm

nutrition | body+soul

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