Episode 15: Questions about Carbs & Late Night Eating Transcript

May 3, 2021
Disclaimer: The information on this podcast is intended for a general audience, is for educational and informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individual medical or mental health advice. 


[00:00:05.300] - Ashley

Hi, everyone, welcome to Nutrition Navigator's podcast, Bringing Nutrition and Wellness to you. Together, we've learned from a variety of health professionals about their stories and how they contribute to the world. That is wellness. This is Ashley I'm the staff advisor for nutrition navigators and nutrition counselor, registered dietitian at Campus Health. I work in health promotion. It's been so great to share some of the topics with you over this past season. This is our final episode of the semester.


[00:00:30.470] - Ashley

And after today, we are going to be taking a short break over the summer and we'll be back in August for season two and a whole new slew of conversations with different professionals about health and wellness. This season, we've talked to campus pantry, campus recreation, intuitive eating with our friends up north at NAU and other dietitians at Campus Health have joined us for meal planning episodes and a dietician Q&A. Today is just a solo episode with me, and I'm going to be answering some questions that are commonly asked to us dietitians, either in counseling sessions or on Instagram or in other in other places about nutrition.


[00:01:13.700] - Ashley

But before that, I wanted to take a moment to wish you all the best of luck on finals. It's the beginning of May, and I know the last day of classes is upon us. So, you got this and a special shout out to all our graduates. How awesome. We are so proud of you and we're looking forward to welcoming you to the Wildcat for Life family. Being an alum is pretty great here at the U of A and yeah, great job since we're heading into finals.


[00:01:40.010] - Ashley

Like I mentioned, the two questions we get pretty often are related to kind of energy levels throughout the day. So I thought this would be really fitting for our final episode of the semester. And if you have questions that you want us to answer, you can always contact us. There's a contact link on our website. Nutrition.arizona.edu You can message us on Instagram at @uazCampusHealth, or you can email us at CHS-NutritionNavigators@email.arizona.edu.


[00:02:12.610] - Ashley

And those are all great ways to ask us questions or inquire about different professionals you'd like to hear about or topics around nutrition and wellness that you're most interested in the last episode. So Episode 14 with Jake from Campus Recreation, we did include a listener question, a little segment at the beginning of the episode, and we're going to continue to do that next semester, hoping that we get continued questions from you, our audience, that you're interested in hearing.



For today, the two questions we're addressing, are carbohydrates or carbs. Are they bad for me? Or how do I stop craving them? So that's one question we're going to tackle. And then the second question, is it bad to eat late at night?



I'm just going to jump right into these because I don't have a guest with me today. So let's do this carbohydrate first. So a case for carbohydrates or a case for carbs.



The brain, our brain, our human brain requires approximately one hundred and thirty grams of carbohydrates daily to function optimally. So one hundred and thirty grams, to put that into perspective, is like eight and a half slices of bread. So and maybe it's helpful to talk first about what carbohydrates are. So just real quick.



Carbohydrates are sugar, starch and/or fiber, basically things for the most part that I eat, and that break down into simple sugars that my body can then use for energy. Fiber is the one exception, because it's not digested necessarily and it doesn't provide as much energy. Rather, it's just in a lot of foods that are carbohydrates like beans or whole grains or vegetables, and it passes through the body and it has other functions, like it helps stabilize blood sugars.



Fiber helps keep us full and satisfied. It helps keep us regular and going to the bathroom. And it provides some nice gut health benefits. So it's definitely included in that realm of carbohydrate and in a way that our blood sugars kind of react differently to something with a lot of fiber in it than something with a low fiber. That's mostly just a simple sugar that your body can kind of take and use really quickly for energy. Those are important, too.


[00:04:25.340] - Ashley

So that is a very Nutshells answer to like "what, are carbohydrates?" So then with all of those examples saying that my my brain requires this for fuel and to function optimally, that's something to remember. They're also, just a quick side.



There's so many cultures that the base of their foods they eat daily are carbohydrates or carbs. For example, I'm Mexican-American and we included just traditionally a lot of rice and beans and corn and growing up and we still do today. So to say that I need to cut those out because rice, beans and corn are food examples of carbohydrate. So to say I need to cut those out is really ignoring my heritage and my culture and to label them as, "bad" for me or something I need to be moderate about is, from where I'm sitting is not OK.


[00:05:21.790] - Ashley

And those foods traditionally are included in lots of different cultures and places around the world where we don't necessarily see some of the health conditions that we see as much that can be prevalent here in the US. So food for thought, kind of like is this recommendation from the Internet or from a health coach or from an influencer where they're telling me to cut out something that is a pretty big staple in my culture. Is that something that aligns with my values?



And I can just ask those questions and come from this very neutral place. And then I think it's important to talk about carbs. How do I stop craving them? How are they bad for me? So, I mean, the short answer is no. They're very important for our bodies. And it's also sometimes interesting to think about combining carbs with other foods to see what feels best in our body energy wise. So, for an example, again, a bowl of rice for me is only going to really keep me full for about 30 minutes, maybe a little longer, but not much, because it's just easy to digest.



My body uses it really quickly and it's efficient because our bodies are so smart and there's just a lack of fiber and protein and fat in just a plain bowl of rice. So I need to add things to that to kind of have some more satisfaction. So maybe I add some fiber and some protein from beans, maybe I add some chicken, which gives me some protein, maybe some chopped avocado or guacamole for some flavor and then maybe some veggies to add some color and taste as well.



That, my friends, that's a burrito bowl, right. That is what's going to get me through a busy day because it's going to sustain me a lot longer. And I'm not going to get this kind of spike from just eating the rice. I'm adding stuff to it to kind of stabilize and keep me full. And the opposite of that would be just having kind of a salad or lots of just leafy or non starchy veggies and protein. That's not as complex.



That's not as filling. And that might be ignoring this pleasure factor. That's really important. And the filliness that carbohydrates bring is really great. And so we think about that list at the very beginning of all those foods. I said that are carbohydrate examples and this discussion of how important fiber is. When we think about all those foods aren't bad, like those foods are really nourishing. They're part of my culture. They're part of what is satisfying.



So it kind of answers your own question a little bit if we kind of zoom out and think about it. So I would just suggest experimenting, try it out, see how you feel. Everybody's different. But that's kind of my nuts and bolts on that.


[00:08:00.760] - Ashley

The second question would be or question or kind of statement is, is the night time eating bad or is late night eating bad for me? I think this comes up a lot because in college specifically, student schedules are just so different and are often kind of shifted later into the day.



People wake up a little later, they're going to bed a little later. Lots of different responsibilities students have. You're working, you're going to school. You're doing all kinds of a variety of things. And so eating later sometimes happens. I think the concern is I eat at night, usually when we dig into this question is I eat at night and I'm afraid that's what's going to make me gain weight. And I eat at night and I don't, quote unquote, make the best choices.



And that's what kind of makes me nervous. Or I eat at night and all I want are potato chips and, I don't know, crackers or pizza or whatever. So eating at night then becomes this thing of makes people feel really guilty or nervous about. So breaking that down a little or kind of zooming out again is eating at night related more to what I'm eating during the day. Sometimes we avoid food all day or we're not making the time to take breaks and nourish our bodies throughout the day because again, I mentioned busy, super busy.



Eating enough is really the basis of a healthy diet. So there's got to be enough there for the other things to happen, like the other benefits from nutrients to happen. There's got to be this like basis of enough. Your body needs to feel like it's safe and that it has enough nourishment. So if I'm not eating all day, if I'm not making time for consistent meals and snacks and giving my body this opportunity to keep me going, I might be setting myself up for being just really hungry later and then calling it emotional eating or calling it late night eating when it really is just like I was hungry because I didn't eat all day long.



And I know folks say, oh, I wasn't hungry, that happens right where our adrenaline is high. We're kind of preoccupied with how busy we are, where meal skipping on our bodies gotten used to that. So it's not sending us those accurate signals anymore. Lots of things kind of can play into that. I'm not feeling physically hungry piece.  But if it's been four or five, eight hours since the last time you put food in your mouth, it's if you're not physically feeling the cue of hunger, it doesn't mean necessarily that you're not actually hungry.



Your signals just might be different or getting kind of crossed. So at night, you finally feel the second to relax. Your adrenaline kind of comes down and it's like, wow, I'm so hungry and I'm hungry and I don't like have the mental capacity to prepare a meal or to kind of make something that maybe would provide those combinations of nutrients. I just want something now and I want a lot of it because, darn, it's been a while since I've had any food.


[00:11:00.970] - Ashley

What we do throughout the day really can impact how we show up in the evening. There's no good or bad time to eat. The consistency is kind of the piece. And then thinking about at night, like eating late at night, like right before you go to bed,  yes, that might be a food rule that someone was given. Like, "don't eat past 8:00" or don't eat past whatever time. There's no good or bad time to eat, I'll say that again.



But sometimes certain people's bodies don't feel super great when they eat right before they go to bed. Maybe they have reflux or maybe they have, I don't know, just things. When they lie down, they feel nauseous  so maybe for their bodies, like eating thirty minutes before they go to bed isn't necessarily helpful for them. So, that's not what this is. That's you taking that information and applying it to yourself. This kind of fear around oh my gosh it's ten o'clock and my body's hungry and I feel like I'm not allowed to eat.



That's what we're kind to break down. And I think it is related a lot to this fear around our bodies changing and that fear that gets put on us.  Especially college students like, oh, you're going to gain X amount of pounds because this college culture kind of lends itself to that. But weight changes happen for lots of reasons, especially at different stages of our lives. Bodies just change on purpose and just kind of thinking about what what has been your pattern throughout the day?



Has it been five hours since you've eaten dinner? You're probably going to need a snack. You're probably going to need some food. And there's no shame or judgment in that. Your body does not process energy different after dark. So just kind of think about it, think about your patterns, think about what feels best for you and kind of try to come at it with this very neutral, almost like anthropological kind of way instead of, oh, I "shouldn't" be doing that.



Or  this is "bad". It's like, well, let me get curious about why that's happening. Is it working for me? Is it what's helping me sleep better? Because if you go to bed hungry, I'm going to probably sleep very good either. So sometimes at nighttime snack or nighttime second meal is important. I hope that makes sense. Those are the two questions that I chose to pick at today. If you have additional thoughts, let us know and we will be back in the fall.



So August will be our first episode for next season, season two. And we're just so thankful that you hung out with us this semester.



Like I said, tell us what you want to hear more of. You can follow Campus health on Instagram or Facebook @uazcampushealth is how to find us. If you want to kind of follow along in our daily antics in health and wellness.  I want to thank our Nutrition Navigator volunteers, they were a lot of them were on our podcast throughout the semester, volunteering behind the scenes, volunteering with ideas, helping me with the transcript and co-hosting. Which I think has been really fun to have that student perspective and that kind of peer to peer support piece.


[00:14:07.810] - Ashley

With that, I will kind of leave you all as as you know, we're part of health promotion. This podcast is sponsored by Campus Health. And if you have any other questions or want to reach out to us, please do. If you're listening to us on lots of different podcasts platforms, please leave us a rating and review so folks can find us and you can let us know how we can serve you better.



And thank you. Have a great rest of the semester.



Good luck and Be Well Wildcats.