Do you eat healthy during the day, but blow it all with one late night trip to the refrigerator? Nighttime eating and late night food cravings are a problem for many and can be a major obstacle when it comes to losing extra weight. There are a variety of reasons why nighttime cravings are so common. For some, it stems from restricting food too much during the day which leads to overeating or even bingeing after dinner. For others, nighttime eating stems from simple boredom. Either way, those late night indulgences can really add up from a calorie standpoint. What’s the best way to handle the problem of nighttime eating?
First, it’s important to find out why nighttime eating is occurring. If it stems from boredom or emotional eating, it’s important to find more productive and satisfying activities to fill the time after dinner. Taking a long walk or swim, playing an outdoor game with the kids, or participating in a class or hobby can all be used to fill time that might otherwise be devoted to snacking. Sitting in front of the television at night is more likely to lead to snacking than doing something that requires movement and activity. Are you eating dinner too early? Try eating the last meal of the day a little later and see if this reduces the problem of nighttime eating and after dinner cravings.
If nighttime eating stems from restricting calories too much during the day, it can help to eat smaller, more frequent meals that are higher in protein throughout the day. Eating small, high protein snacks every few hours helps to keep blood sugar levels steady and reduces hunger. Another approach is to eat a healthy evening snack an hour or two before bedtime. Instead of raiding the refrigerator, try sipping a cup of hot herbal tea, sugar-free hot chocolate, or enjoy a small bowl of oatmeal.
Breaking the habit of nighttime eating may take time if it’s an ingrained habit. Keep a food diary and force yourself to write down everything you eat on a daily basis. Before snacking, look through the entries for the day and reaffirm your weight loss goals. Doing this allows you to address nighttime eating from a rational standpoint rather than an emotional one. Looking at the whole picture, you may find that a snack’s not so important after all.
Another way to reduce nighttime eating is to stimulate senses other than your taste buds. Try indulging in a warm bath to which you’ve added sweet smelling essential oils. After finishing the bath, brush your teeth with strong peppermint toothpaste to give your mouth a clean sensation and help reduce appetite. If you’re tempted to head to the refrigerator, chew a piece of sugar-free gum instead.
Don’t let nighttime eating get the best of you, but don’t skimp on food during the day so you can reduce those nighttime cravings. It may take time, but you can conquer those late night trips to the refrigerator.