Do you start every night after dinner determined you're done eating for the day and vow you're not eating more? And then you do?
Maybe it's because other people in the house start snacking and you're trying to resist the sweet and salty sights, smells, & sounds all around you.
Or maybe you had to bring work home and you have a deadline looming and pressure mounting and when you have something to munch on it feels like it helps.
Or maybe it's so routine you just can't imagine making it the whole night without eating again.
So why am I talking about nighttime snacking anyway?
First, because so many people ask me how to stop doing it. Second, because there are so many theories about what time to stop eating every day for weight reasons. And third, because there are side effects to nighttime snacking that most of us don't want to deal with.
So let's start... what's my take on all this?
First, as I talk about in "What's the Perfect Diet?" everyone is different, and whether eating at night is actually "bad" for you is something only you can determine. If it's giving you no harmful side effects then go ahead and snack away! Your desired weight and size are also up to you and you alone.
But let's talk about how it could be affecting your health and what to do about it.
The quality & quantity of what you're eating later in the evening can contribute to:
1. Insomnia and poor sleep quality.
This happens from foods that are high in sugar or simple carbohydrates (fast burning carbs that don't have fiber in them) because your body wakes you up after your blood sugar levels plunge.
It can also happen from dehydration caused by salty nighttime snacks, causing your body to send the signal to wake up and get something to drink.
Some people also have trouble sleeping when they eat spicy foods in the evening because of indigestion or nightmares.
2. Losing your innate hunger & fullness signals, compulsive eating habits and binge eating.
For most of us, sugary foods, fast foods, and junk foods keep us constantly craving more of the same the next morning, all through the day, and after dinner all over again. It just doesn't stop.
They also make you feel like food has control over you rather than you over it.
3. Weight gain that creates pressure on the joints, heart, energy, and focus. This happens we're eating at a time of night when the calories aren't going to get burned off.
So how do I cut this habit?
1. Don't try to deprive yourself during the day.
I know, so much easier said than done when we think it's an answer to weight loss or weight control mode. But here's the thing: deprivation creates a vicious cycle that actually causes the opposite of weight loss or weight control.
Our bodies need nutrients, vitamins, protein, fats, and carbs to run our muscles, brain, blood, bones, heart, etc.. So if we didn't give it enough of that during the day, it's knocking at your brain and asking "what's up? Why are you starving me?! Is it something I said?"
When we don't give our organs and every other intricate part of our anatomy what they need to operate on, our brain does exactly what it's so brilliantly designed to do: keep us alive! It sends the alarm that you're depleted and you gotta EAT.
So if you keep it calm by getting a steady flow of what you need, it won't need to send out the danger signals.
2. Eat long-lasting, slow-burning, nutrient-dense foods all day, as well as for dinner. A client recently told me that her boyfriend has been following the same eating plan we designed for her, and he's eating more than he used to but losing weight.
When we eat adequate protein, fiber, healthy fats & slow-burning complex carbs, they keep us happily satiated so much longer.
A lot of the reason we're hungry so soon after feeding ourselves even to the point of being stuffed is because what we put in there burns off so quickly. (Examples: bread, buns, rice, breading & cracker crusts, French fries, pasta, noodles, mac 'n cheese, sugary cereals, sugary yogurts, low fat foods, boxed artificial foods, chips & other snack foods.)
So, when you've had a dinner heavy on the starch, processed chemicals and/or sugar, you're gonna find yourself dreaming of more of the same about 1 1/2 - 2 hours later.
You can set your watch to it.
There's NOTHING defective about you. Your body's a brilliantly miraculous machine and it's doing exactly what's natural to do. It'll settle into satisfied mode in the evening by not giving it addictive ingredients at dinner.
3. If you're unable to shake the urge to eat some nights, especially when you're trying to break the habit that might've been in place much of your life, GO AHEAD AND EAT!
Just change what you're snacking on instead...
Get something highly satiating that's not gonna cue cravings, overindulging, regret & self-abuse, sugar roller coasters and interfere with your sleep.
Prepare for this with a kitchen stocked with great, health-serving options available for any time of the day - including evenings - and enjoy every bite.
* a few handfuls of pistachios or mixed, raw nuts
* some slices of hard cheese dipped in mustard
* get another serving of the protein or veggies from your dinner
* "ice cream" made of frozen banana blended and mixed with no sugar added nut butter, berries, or 1 T. cacao powder
* 1 serving of dark chocolate (greater than 75% cocoa). The caffeine portion should be small enough not to affect your sleep, but if it does don't do this one
Final note: even if you eat more than the recommended amount of the above suggestions, they're not gonna to derail your health or self-confidence the way a bag of Doritos, a pack of Oreos, and a pint of ice cream will!
Focus on eating real, clean foods that will fill and nourish you, and don't worry so much about the quantity. It's harder to overeat satiating foods.
What do I do now?
Information isn't transformation! It takes more than lists of ideas to make it work and last in your busy life, so click here to schedule a consult call if you just haven't been able to put all the pieces together by yourself.
To your life & wellness,
Happy you're here! This is where I give you food hacks and habit tricks so you can break free from out-of-control eating & cravings and feel so much better in your own skin.
♥ join the movement ♥
Debbie Thompson, B.A., M.S., Certified Health & Life Coach
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