Interview to Valentina Chiozzi: All The Secrets of A Perfect Dinner!
How many times have you felt a bit weighed down after dinner?
Or, on the contrary, you felt the need of something sweet after an hour or two after eating?
Have you ever had some difficulties in falling asleep after a rich dinner?
Today at Plato’s we interview Valentina Chiozzi, the nutritionist and co-author (together with our chefs!) of the amazing menu of Plato Chic Superfood.
If you want to discover all the secrets of the perfect dinner – tasty, balanced and light as you like – get ready for some good news: you’re in the right place!
Hello Valentina! Which are the most common mistakes people make at dinner?
The origin of the most common mistakes is breakfast.
Those who start their day without a proper and whole breakfast are usually quite hungry at dinner. This habit makes them eat voraciously and without even thinking about what they’re tasting.
In this way, they feel full later and eat more calories than they actually need. Moreover, at dinner people tend to spend more time with their family, sometimes associating this moment with too much wine or sweets. It’s quite normal to look for some comfort food after a long working day.
But in the long time, this could lead to fat accumulation. In addition to this, people usually have dinner too late, disturbing the quality of digestion and sleep, especially after a hearty meal.
Why do people feel so hungry at dinner, even if they ate a big sandwich for lunch?
Sandwiches that we normally find around are made with refined flours and they are not always well balanced.
Sometimes they are rich in calories, but low in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They often lack fresh vegetables and they are made with poor quality flour.
What happens is that people feel satisfied after having eaten a fat sandwich, but this feeling doesn’t last long, because it lacks good fibers. The level of sugars lowers, and so we feel hungry again after two hours.
There’s another aspect to consider, that is the psychological side. People eat sandwiches in a hurry, standing, so they see it more as a break, than as a real lunch. The result is that it doesn’t satiate as a whole meal.
How can people avoid sleep disorders?
The ideal thing would be a light dinner (but not too light, to avoid waking up hungry in the middle of the night!), inspired by the “healthy meal” of the Harvard Medical School of Medicine.
In other words, it must include all the main nutrients: whole carbs, proteins, vegetables and good fats, but in a smaller quantity than the one required at lunch. The best way to keep us healthy is progressively reducing the calories, as in the popular saying: “eat breakfast as a king, lunch as a prince and dinner as a poor”.
The aim is going to sleep while your digestion is already in progress. In this way, your sleep won’t be disturbed by digestive processes which activate the body, even on a hormonal level.
Let’s think about melatonin secretion, the hormone which regulates sleep. Its normal secretion starts in the pineal gland, which can be altered by rich meals, affecting the quality of sleep.
Which are the food to avoid and those to prefer at dinner?
As a general rule, it would be better to avoid fried or fat food (like white sauces, fillings with custard and creams) because they lengthen the time of digestion and fatigue the stomach. The same thing can be said about alcohol.
A healthy dinner should include whole cereals (maybe less than the quantity we eat for lunch), simply cooked proteins and a good quantity of seasonal vegetables, with some oil seeds. They’re rich in magnesium, a mineral which facilitates relax and the synthesis of the precursors of melatonin.
Wine: is it better to avoid it at dinner, or is it a glass allowed?
If there are no digestive issues of any kind, a glass of wine at dinner is allowed.
But alcohol can fatigue the stomach and disturb digestion. So, it’s better to limit it and enjoy a glass of wine once in a while, as a little occasional pleasure!
Post-dinner break: how can people satisfy their need for flavor without eating “junk food”?
If dinner is well balanced and eaten at the right moment, there shouldn’t be the need for a post-dinner break.
If one wants a little cuddle or a relaxing ritual, a sugar-free herbal tea is much better than junk food! And for all the sweet teeth out there, or for those who ate less at dinner or need to stay awake longer, it’s better to eat some almonds or other oil seeds.
They’re super yummy and satiate more!