My 10 Tips to Prevent Nighttime Eating
Nighttime eating is usually a one-way ticket to weight gain, fatigue, bloating and poor sleeping patterns. Follow my 10 Tips to break the habit and crush your cravings!
When I first consult with a client for fat loss, I ask them to log a few “typical days” of eating with timing so I can get a sense of their dietary intake and lifestyle to see where they may be making mistakes. One of the biggest fails I see is most people make is that they start their day off pretty well and then all hell breaks loose by the end of the night! Whether it’s eating too much before dinner (what I call the ‘dinner before dinner), or eating sweets and carbohydrates after dinner to de-stress – a good day of eating can be totally blown from the caloric intake that happens later in the day.
Although this habit is often one of the hardest to break, I assure you, it can be done and you will feel so good about it – you’ll be back in the driver’s seat of your life!
Nighttime eating can be caused from under-eating or restricting calories earlier in your day (which always back fires so it’s important you’re eating small balanced meals throughout the day to keep your hunger levels and blood sugar balanced) BUT more often than not it’s linked to your emotions and state of mind. Most people tend to eat late at night as a “treat’ after a hard day, to sooth stress or to numb uncomfortable feelings or as something to do if they’re bored. Let’s face it, who hasn’t drown their sorrows in a box of Oreos, some Krispy Kreme’s and a tub of Ben & Jerrys?!! We’ve all been there before – me included. I’ve binged on a dozen donuts more than once. I’ve had out of control sugar-cravings. I’ve lost and gained over a hundred pounds. At the end of the day these moments make us feel horrible about ourselves. We all also know that eating our feelings isn’t a solution to any of these problems… and it also presents an entirely new problem of negative emotions and guilt.
With the current COVID-19 pandemic we’re all at home a lot more right now so these situations may be happening to you a lot more often as your stress levels may be higher, you may be bored, may have extra work with your family at home and feel overwhelmed or you just may be feeling tempted all the time as you’re close to your fridge! I used to struggle with this a lot when I first had one of my offices at home a decade ago. But I’ve OVERCOME. Even currently being pregnant I’ve had zero cravings and I’m feeling incredibly well and balanced. If I can do this you can do this too!
I’m going to share some of my strategies with you so that you can break this habit and strengthen your relationship with food. But FIRST, I want you to be 100% honest with yourself. I want you to make sure you really want this and can acknowledge that your relationship with food isn’t healthy. Changing a behavior has to start with WANTING TO CHANGE and being mindful and aware. Now to break this unhealthy habit I want you to try to implement as many of the steps as you can below:
- Focus on reducing all of your refined sugars and eating healthy, whole foods without over-restricting any foods. This will be hard at first but once your body adjusts to the lower sugar intake and you fuel up on nutrients you’ll start to feel a lot better and notice that your cravings are less if not non-existent. #winning. Focus on ‘balance’ with 80% of your foods being nutrient dense and 20% of your foods adding no nutritional value to your diet. Over-restricting and never having treats is a recipe for disaster – you need to have them in moderation and LEARN how to control your portions. For myself I have any meal and treat I want one time/week. This strategy may or may not work for you. But the key to long term success truly is a dietary lifestyle that focuses on small, balanced, frequent meals that are in the optimal calories and macros for your goals and activity levels. You’ll experience happy and balanced hormones and your body will be so nourished that you’ll crave fruit at the most. A body that’s getting all the micronutrients and macronutrients that it requires will rarely crave crappy foods!
- Drink sweet herbal teas – chocolate, caramel, iced green teas and sweet fruit teas are all allowed and all count as part of your water intake. My favorite sweet tea is lavender sleepy time tea with unsweetened almond milk and monk fruit sweetener before bed.
- Keep in mind you have “free foods” that will not cause an upset stomach or weight gain. Free foods include vegetables (cut up cucumbers, sliced red peppers, baby carrots), low sodium soup broths and a small amount (1/2 cup) of unsweetened apple sauce. These foods can fill you up if you truly are hungry after your meal.
- Before eating after dinner, stop for just a moment and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry, or am I eating for other reasons?” If you are not truly hungry, drink a glass of water and wait until the emotion or feeling passes and walk away from the kitchen!
- Invest in homemade Popsicle makers and make your own healthy version. Simply add ½ cup of mixed berries, ½ banana, 1 scoop protein powder 1 cup of water and crushed ice. Blend on high and freeze in Popsicle makers. Have one at night when a sweet craving hits.
- Keep frozen red grapes and frozen mangos in the freezer.When you feel like a sweet treat at night (or during the day), pop a few in your mouth.
- Make sure you consume enough protein throughout your day to fill you up. Depending on your activity level you’ll require .8-1.5g of protein per Lb of body weight divided up between your 5-6 meals daily.
- Make sure to have an afternoon snack that satisfies (i..e fruit and nuts, yogurt and fruit with chia & flax seeds, protein smoothie with avocado and spinach). This will ensure you do not enter the pre dinner hour starving
- Sugar-free gum in moderation. A couple of sticks of sugar-free gum tricks your mind and body into feeling satisfied. Don’t eat too much or you’ll experience bloating but a couple sticks can be a great strategy to get you out of the kitchen fast.
- Walk away and go brush your teeth! Now this one sounds crazy BUT it really works. It was a trick I used to use when I was dieting for competitions. When you feel the urge to eat late at night just head to your bathroom and brush those pearly whites.
In order to break the habit of nighttime eating, I also recommend investing in some self-care time with a writing journal and take notes every time you feel like eating late at night. Ask yourself why you’re eating a treat? What emotions are you feeling? When you start to connect the dots you force a mind-body connection to occur and you will start to become more mindful of your triggers. If you’re stress eating then it’s important to work on stress management and not all food to be a solution.
Once your desire to make this change is greater than the food you’re eating late at night and you start to implement as many of these strategies as possible the hard work is done and the urge to eat will start to disappear. By doing this step and this step alone I guarantee you will soon notice a marked improvement in your relationship with food, your self-confidence and your own health and weight. You’ve got this!
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