clock700Welcome to our healthy lifestyle challenge lead by our program dietitian Vicki Bovee and her husband, Bill. Because we can always do better to live a healthier lifestyle Vicki and Bill decided to work on a weekly challenge together to provide support and accountability for each other and hopefully inspire you to make healthy changes. Follow along with them as they tackle a variety of challenges to eat better, eat more mindfully, and improve physical health and emotional well-being. Vicki and Bill invite you to participate and accept the challenges to improve your lifestyle too. Some of them may be difficult and please feel free to modify the challenges to accommodate your dietary needs and physical abilities.

Challenge #39 The 7PM cut-off
I have been putting this challenge off since we started in July. It was drafted to the list in the first round but sat on the bench until now. So what was my problem? It wasn’t that I didn’t want to give an evening snack. No, the problem was getting dinner on the table at 6:30 to finish eating by 7. I had to make sure I wasn’t working late any nights this week for the challenge to work. Typically when I get home from work, 5 to 6ish, I walk in the door hungry, eat vegetables to put weight in my stomach (tip from preop Steps to Success class), and go do something. I get busy doing something and before I know it, it’s past 7. I don’t need to be eating dinner at 7:45 or later when I go to bed at 9:15. So the challenge maybe wasn’t so much not to eat after 7 as it was to get dinner on the table earlier.

When it comes to weight management, the time of the meal doesn’t make as much an impact on your weight as the food choices. The longer you go between the meals the more likely you are to overeat because you are too hungry. Going to bed with a full stomach makes it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Not enough sleep makes you tired and you probably won’t be hungry for breakfast. So you skip breakfast and then get into the high carb morning snack to get going. When patients tell me they are not hungry in the morning I suggest they eat nothing after 6PM for at least three nights in a row and see what happens. If you have acid reflux, or GERD, recommendations are to refrain from eating 3 hours before bedtime. This is probably good advice for all of us.

Vicki’s observations:
• Bill doesn’t like to cook and so dinner usually falls on me. I do cook for leftovers but even those nights dinner can be after 7:30. It gets worse in the summer when it stays lighter later and we may eat around 8.
• In January, I set a rule for myself not to eat after 8PM and I set the alarm on my smartphone. Ding, ding, I’m done. For me, this takes care of any snacking issues that come along with watching TV. I track this goal and some weeks are better than others. I’m not perfect but I am aware of what and the time I am eating.
• I changed the timer on my smartphone to 7PM and that was helpful.
• It turned out that I liked this challenge. I ate dinner earlier and then the things that kept me busy before dinner now kept me busy after dinner. I just switched it around.
• I have several late work nights coming up and I won’t be home until after 7. I know from experience if I come home and think I’ll just have a “snack” it is a disaster. I am too hungry and don’t feel satisfied with a snack and end up eating more calories than if I just ate dinner. But if I coming home after 8 I need to eat a light meal around 5:30 and nothing when I get home.
• We ran into Alex, a young friend of ours. He said he lost 10 pounds in the past 2 months. His strategy was simple. He gave up soda and he eats nothing after 5:30. I asked what happens when he has to work late. He said he eats something around 5 and he’s done for the day.

Bill’s observations:
• Sometimes I’m not ready to eat dinner earlier. I’m on the phone for work or I’m doing something on my computer and I don’t want to stop to eat.
• I stopped eating after 8PM. Vicki stopped at 7PM but that was just too early for me. I needed my ice cream before bed.
• I find it good to have a time that to stop eating. This helps from snacking on food just because you are watching TV and are most likely bored.
• I have reflux and studies say that a person with reflux should not eat 3 hours before bed. The sooner I stop eating the better it would be for me.
• Having a time to get dinner on the table helps organize meals.
• This challenge helped me realize how many times during the evening that I snack.

Not eating 3 hours before bedtime is great, but sometimes your schedule doesn’t allow it. It may be a later dinner with friends, or working late. Have a snack before if you must eat late and order a smaller dinner so you can start the next day on your normal routine.

Next week’s challenge is one I looked forward to doing. Bill? Not so much and the grumbling starts.

Eat Smarter…
Vicki Bovee, MS, RDN, LD

Want to catch up on what you’ve missed?

The road to success is always under construction
Challenge #1 Eat everything sitting down.
Challenge #2 Eliminate cheese as an ingredient.
Challenge #3 Walk sideways in your home.
Challenge #4 Include a fresh herb in your daily meal plan.
Challenge #5 If there is food in your mouth there should be nothing in your hand.
Challenge #6 Eat the MyPlate recommendations for fruits and vegetables.
Challenge #7  Stand (and walk if possible) while talking on the phone.
Challenge # 8 Don’t eat out of the package. Put your food on a plate or in a bowl.
Challenge # 9 Keep a food record.
Challenge # 10 Power down while eating.
Challenge # 11 Eating to reduce inflammation.
Challenge # 12 Eating to help our environment.
Challenge # 13 Switch it up.
Challenge # 14 The road to success is still under construction.
Challenge # 15 Little bites.
Challenge # 16 Drink your water.
Challenge # 17 Count your chews.
Challenge # 18 The 100 Bite Diet.
Challenge # 19 Start your day right.
Challenge # 20 Holiday moves.
Challenge # 21 Limit TV time.
Challenge # 22 The Paleo Diet: Eat Like a Caveman.
Challenge # 23 Sweet dreams.
Challenge # 24 What color is your plate?
Challenge # 25 Six month reflections
Challenge # 26 Retro-walking.
Challenge # 27 Gimme a high fiber
Challenge # 28 The Half Plate Rule
Challenge #29 Feel Good Week
Challenge #30 Try one new healthy food a day
Challenge #31 It’s a stretch
Challenge #32 TLC for heart health
Challenge #33 The sounds of silence
Challenge #34 10,000 steps a day
Challenge #35  35/350
Challenge #36 Have a super week
Challenge #37 Stress busters
Challenge #38 Walking the tightrope

Vicki Bovee is the Registered Dietitian for Western Bariatric Institute and leads the non-surgical weight loss program, “Health and Lifestyle Program.” Contact Vicki at

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