How Can I Stop Late Night Eating?
The story goes something like this; I have such a tight schedule during my day that I don’t take the time to eat. Consequently, at night when everything calms down I start eating. My trouble is that by then I’m so hungry that I tend to eat, and eat… a lot. Because I’m starving, I eat so fast that my stomach doesn’t have time to tell my brain that I’m full. I weigh more now than ever but I just can’t seem to break the cycle.
Sound familiar? In this day and age when we try to cram three days activities into one, we leave no wiggle room. This post will lay out some actions for you to set in place in order to gain control and start the process of shedding those extra pounds weighing you down.
Ideas for control:
1. Eat Regularly
First, eat a balanced diet. You say, what’s a balanced diet? A balanced diet starts with 3 squares at least , 6 is better. This is critical so that your body feels nourished avoiding binge eating during your day and more so at night when you are tired. More on balanced diet and sleep later. Our goal for each day is to keep blood glucose at a steady state with no sharp spikes or drops through the foods we choose. This ensures energy when needed and helps cut down on the munchies.
Mom said It was The Most Important Meal of the Day
The perfect start to balance is breakfast. According to experts, those who eat breakfast tend to weigh less than those skipping the most important meal of the day. I hear you, “I’m not hungry first thing in the morning”. This too can change. You merely need to make it a priority.
Once you start eating at least 3 regular meals a day, you’ll find that breakfast can truly be your day’s appetite setter and controller.
2. Low Fat Diet Nothing
Add fat into your meals. I know this sounds counter intuitive but nothing fights off munchies better than fat. Now, just any type of fat won’t do. A quick review in case your nutrition study has not revealed this. There are bad fats and good fats. Saturated fats and trans fats should be avoided or greatly limited and replaced with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. You need to work on this one as your preferences may not be the same as mine. There are a number of good ideas I’ve tried throughout the years that have worked for me.
First, let’s go nuts. With meal choices, I prefer to original food sources. The least amount of processing the better. Nuts can be an excellent snack or addition to recipes for added good fats. I use walnuts (rich in polyunsaturated fat) in my oatmeal for breakfast along with raisins.
This not only adds fat to my diet, it helps curb my appetite helping me say no when offered doughnuts or breakfast tacos at work during mid-morning breaks.
Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fat, again without processing in its natural state. These are great in natural dips, sandwiches, salads and many recipes. Be aware of marketing ploys using the term “natural” because of its abuse in processed foods and particularly supplements. By natural I mean all whole foods only. For example, if you want to jazz up your avocado for a dip use onions, garlic preferably home grown or whole cloves from the market, tomatoes, again your own are better – why? Because you know what you used to grow them in and that you did not use pesticides when growing them. Just make sure you thoroughly wash anything bought in stores.
CAUTION:Just because it’s good for you i.e. nuts, avocados, doesn’t mean that more is better. Portion sizes. It’s easy to start munching on nuts and keep on munching… you’ll likely gain weight if you eat a lot over time. Remember, glucose or energy balance is our goal throughout the day.
I use olive oil and I use it on everything. In place of butter or margarine, in salads, and vegetables I love olive oil. Using olive oil in place of butter or margarine is highly recommended. Another monounsaturated fat, olive oil can lower total-blood cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol and not cause high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol to drop. In fact olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil and peanut butter can increase HDL cholesterol. So, good fats can be your best ally in the battle against munchies.
CAUTION: Again, use these fats sparingly as they do also have calories. Recently, studies talk about the need to balance your omega 3s and omega 6 oils, poly and mono-unsaturated fats. I tend not to yoyo here, trust your lipid profile numbers from your regular check-ups and try canola oil is some recipes. I’m just really fond of the taste of olive oil.
3. Natures Fiber from Fruits and Vegetables
Use fruits and vegetables for after or in place of dinner. Both make great snacks as well. Olive oil goes on most of my veggies. Be careful of large amounts vegetables like white potatoes, beets and carrots. These vegetables convert to glucose quickly and make it into the blood more quickly than others like red potatoes, broccoli, and celery for example.
Eat the skins of potatoes for all the fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Experts say that meals/foods that provide a reduction in this sharp rise in blood glucose may have a role in reducing risk of diabetes, coronary artery disease and cancer. Many people use peanut butter on celery or an apple as an appetite buster for evening management. Don’t like peanut butter, try almond butter.
4. When I’m Tired, I Eat More Junk
Getting the proper amount of sleep will actually help you make better food choices. Hungry and slightly angry people tend to eat higher calorie foods in this state. Studies at the University of Chicago suggest that reduced sleep and or quality of sleep can disturb appetite controlling hormones, putting those people at risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes. Both of these, epidemic in the developed world and you don’t want to follow this course. Get your rest.
"Human beings are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent gain," Matthew Walker, PhD professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley; Author of "Why We Sleep"
5. Late Afternoon, or Early Evening Activity can Help
Lastly, try moving your exercise/activity into the early evening hours. Activity in the evening hours actually does well for me. My exercise is usually moderate to high intensity which may play into this one. I will sometimes skip the evening meal opting for piece of fruit and or cereal with nuts of course. I never miss an opportunity to add nuts.
This final duality of destruction, obesity and type 2 diabetes are the consequences of the modern culture and can be the results of late night binge eating. It is proved over and over, when cultures are brought out of the fields harvesting, working the land, into urban areas, not only the lack of activity but the lack of plant-based foods cause disease and early death. The message is clear, stay active and eat your veggies.