woman putting tape measure around her waist Need some help with a dietary or weight issue – Arlene has the answers you’re looking for.

How do I stop myself from eating when I get home from work at 2.30 am? My working hours are 5 pm or 7 pm to 2 am in the morning. Always hungry when I get home from work and cannot sleep until around 4 am. I then sleep the next day and don’t eat till 1 or 2 pm that day. Sleeping and eating are all out of order I have gradually been gaining weight.

Shift work is extremely difficult – it creates enormous problems with your eating and sleeping patterns as it throws you into irregular patterns. Fatigue is the biggest stimulus for overeating. I am pleased to see that you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep every day. You have to adjust your eating pattern to your working hours. When you get home at 2 am you should have your dinner – try to make it light as you are going straight to bed. Have something like a grilled fish and salad, a soup, or a chicken salad. Exercise is extremely important for your health. When you wake up try and do some exercise and then have the equivalent of breakfast, and then pace your meals as you would on a normal day. You have to be organised and take the correct food with you to work. This lifestyle requires enormous discipline and organisation as most of the shops are closed at this time of night.

Why do I fall asleep after eating my dinner? I am a healthy eater and I do not drink alcohol but every night after dinner when I sit down to watch TV and relax I fall asleep for about 20 minutes. This means I am then not able to go to sleep till after midnight and I would like to get into a better sleep pattern. I do not eat sweet treats after dinner.

You are probably tired in the evening so should perhaps go to bed after dinner.  After a busy day, we should recognise that we do get fatigued and need an early night. The minute your body has time to relax it automatically falls asleep.

Eating sugary foods or those made from flour, such as bakery products or pasta, causes blood sugar to rise higher than normal. This causes your pancreas to release large amounts of insulin, which drives one of the protein building blocks called tryptophan from your bloodstream into your brain, where it is converted to serotonin that makes people fall asleep naturally at night.

Many meals contain L-tryptophan. This essential (cannot be made in the body) amino acid needs to be taken on an empty stomach and without any other amino acids or protein in order to make you drowsy.

Some people think, however, that feeling drowsy is not necessarily due to this tryptophan. Some Say:

– Tryptophan does not deserve nearly the blame it gets for making us sleepy.

– The body wants to focus its efforts on digestion.

– Drowsiness occurs after any big meal, regardless of the meal components.

– Digestion of any large meal, whether it’s a high-protein, high-fat or high-carbohydrate meal, causes the familiar after-meal drowsiness.

woman running through fieldsI was taking ephedra products for over a year before all the news was released about the harm they can cause.  The thing is, they really worked for me, I lost over 10 lbs in 2 months and felt great.  I have been trying to wane myself off of them since all of the bad publicity, but am finding that I am gaining all of the weight I had lost, back.  I am having a really hard time with this, and was wondering if you had any advice on how to either get my system back on track or if you could tell me whether or not I am at risk taking the pills…

Weight–loss products containing the herb ephedra, also called ma huang, may soon be required by the government to carry a warning label about its potentially serious side effects (heart attacks, seizures, and strokes).  Legislation may be passed to ban ephedra – I do not think you should continue taking the tablets containing this substance.  There are substances now available that are chemically similar to ephedra, and some quite different – what they have in common is that nobody knows if they really promote weight loss or are safe.  For example, DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol), once sold as a prescription drug for the treatment of learning difficulties, it was taken off the market because of insufficient evidence that it worked.  Yet it is allowed in supplements.  It is known to raise blood pressure and cause insomnia.  You should follow a sensible eating regime, and begin a regular exercise routine to lose weight.  Increase your metabolic rate with aerobic exercise rather than with medication – you will feel great, healthy and lose kilos at the same time.

I just had a baby and was wondering the best way I can lose weight fast and healthy?

Following a balanced eating plan of six small meals, a day is the most sensible and effective way to lose weight.  Take the baby for an hour walk most days, as this will get you out of the house, relax you, burn calories, and increase your muscle mass.  The eating plan on my website www.arlenesway.com.au is ideal for a new mum.  If you are breastfeeding you should increase your milk intake to three glasses a day to satisfy your calcium requirement.

nuts forming a heart Can you tell me the fat (saturated) content in sushi or vegetable rolls?  None of the packets sold in the shops gives any fat content?

The fat content of sushi depends on the contents of the sushi roll.  Generally, the saturated fat content is nil or exceptionally low. Fish (both salmon and tuna) have mainly omega-3 fatty acids which are the “healthy fats, the other common ingredient in sushi is avocado which is monounsaturated fat.  Mayonnaise would be the only contribution to the saturated fat content, and this would be minimal as very little is used in a traditional sushi roll.

I was born with a congenital heart defect and have two young children.  I would love to lose the 8kgs I’ve been left with from having children.  My problem is I am not to develop heart disease as this will shorten my life expectancy and I love delicious fatty tasting food, exercise is limited, I get puffed out easily and cannot put much strain on my heart.  I do not really have dinner as this makes it hard to breathe, being so full.  I would love an idea of recipes that are easy to make, tasty, healthy food that will satisfy me like fatty food and a low exercise idea plan.

Having congenital heart disease you will have to become aware of the fat content of food, particularly the saturated and trans fats – both of which are hazardous to your health.  Reducing your fat intake is essential both for health reasons and in order to lose weight.  Your food can be tasty and quick to prepare without the excessive use of fat in your cooking.  I have numerous publishes recipes and menu plans that can be found on arlenesway.com.au.  Eating smaller meals at night is ideal for weight loss.  Following the menus would be ideal for your heart condition and assist you in weight loss.  Exercise does not have to be “so vigorous” that you are breathless.  Begin by walking at a comfortable pace for 15 minutes each day, and then slowly increase the time (and perhaps the speed).  You will find that both your fitness level will increase and your capacity for exercise will improve.  Walking will aid the weight loss program and is also good for heart disease.  I suggest, however, that you consult your doctor prior to commencing any exercise regime.