No More “Night Time Blues” as a Night Time Snacker to Lose WeightOctober 4, 2021
Are you someone that feels in control all day and falls apart in the evening? Are you a nighttime snacker? You are not alone because the “Nighttime Blues” affects us all. You might be a Night Time Snacker.
Whether we are relaxing in the evening watching tv or sitting in front of a computer, mindless eating may be the next action. This can be old habits creeping back in or feeling justified in the day we had, perhaps bored, or feel the need to put something in your stomach at the end of your day. This nighttime eating can be detrimental to continued weight loss and/or maintenance.
What Does It Mean to Live a Healthy Lifestyle?
Living a healthy lifestyle does not just mean sweating it out at the gym. Living healthy means you are planning and prepping your meals. This also includes eating and hydrating routinely throughout your day, finding time to decompress, getting enough sleep, and knowing what time of day to stop consuming food.
So, my staple answer to everyone is that your routine has to make sense to you and your day. What works for one person may not work for everyone.
If you are a person that gets a lunch hour, it is best to count 5-6 hours before and after lunch to determine your times to consume breakfast and dinner. A general rule is to eat within one hour of waking up from your main sleep (yes, - nighttime workers can follow the same rule), and eating meals 5-6 hours evenly spaced apart.
With this in mind, ideally, you should not be eating any food within two hours of bedtime. So, nighttime or late-night eating should not be an occurrence. Consuming food within two hours of sleep is not healthy for many reasons. It can cause reflux, indigestion, and food may not be processed quickly during sleep hours. It may also make your breakfast choices suffer, and most importantly, you do not need those extra calories! Below are some great tips to stop late-night eating and get you in a better mindset to stick to your routine and the program!
How To Stop Eating at Night as a Night Time Snacker
I often hear patients aren’t actually hungry when they find themselves mindlessly watching tv and munching on something they know is not a great choice. Let’s find a distraction during commercials. Next time you watch TV and feel this urge, try exercises like stretching, squats, or sit-ups and stay out of the kitchen. If you are just bored, find something else to do with your hands. Some patients color, knit, read a paper, or get up and go for a walk.
This refers to having a designated place to eat. The kitchen would be the first choice, but you decide what works best in your home. There are “no food zones,” including the bedroom, at the computer or gaming area, and in front of the TV. This will immediately shut down many instances of nighttime eating.
75% of thirst is disguised as hunger. Our bodies crave hydration. Many times, we think our body is craving food because we get a lot of moisture from our food. Next time you feel the urge to reach for a snack, grab a beverage instead and wait and see that hunger will vanish. I always tell my patients to have a special beverage on hand. Maybe it’s a nice soothing cup of decaf tea before bedtime. Our grandparents were on the right track with warm milk; just make sure it’s low fat!
Don’t confuse being tired with being hungry. Set yourself up for bedtime success. Set structured hours for wake-up, meals, and sleep time. This will separate the activities. Power down and turn off all devices within one hour of sleep. There is constant stress when perusing social media or emails. Set the mood in your room. Just like a baby learning to sleep through the night, you have to retrain yourself to relax to sleep. Lower the lights, play some relaxing music, meditate or deep breathe. Your body will appreciate the sleep routine, and falling asleep and staying asleep will quickly improve. Oh -and that nighttime snack that will no longer be a thought in your sleep.
Include Protein and Fiber with Dinner
Consuming protein and fiber with your meal promotes satiety, reduces cravings, and increases satisfaction. Protein consumption will help you build lean body muscle mass and strength. Fiber is hearty and will keep you full longer, so there will be less of a need to snack or fill in with additional calories. Excellent protein choices are fish, chicken, eggs, low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt, turkey, veal, pork, and seafood. Great ideas for fiber are beans, legumes, barley, wheat, oats, berries, and avocados. Including protein and fiber with your dinner will help you to feel more comfortable until bedtime.
Plan Your Meals
Having set mealtimes promotes good eating habits and enhances a healthy cycle for eating. A meal plan can reduce the anxiety of deciding when and what to eat. Knowing when to eat will eliminate eating at random times of the day or night. A meal plan is something you can count on day to day. Regardless of if it’s a workday, weekend, or vacation day, a meal plan will help you avoid making impulse choices. Eating at regular times of the day will also maintain normal blood sugars, which will help you lose or maintain a healthy weight.
Make Time to Carry Out Your Plan
Now you have your mealtimes set. The next step is to take the time in your week to find some new and exciting recipes. Let’s start with a grocery list, then making time to shop. Get organized and set your kitchen up for success by organizing your cabinets and refrigerator. Now you are ready to live a healthy week! This week will include better evening habits and promote better sleep.
Do Not Overly Restrict Your Daytime Meals
This can trigger unwanted calories in the evening or later at night. Your brain may seek calories to make up for the deficit during the day. Eat your three meals daily, and evenly space them apart for comfortable satiety.
Have Positive Self-Talk
Take a timeout before reaching for a snack. Count to 10 and ask yourself three questions.
1) Am I really hungry?
2) Will I feel good after making this choice?
3) Do I really need this food?
Before you eat a snack, take a pause and see how quickly that urge to snack fades. Don’t forget to appreciate how great your healthy focus is becoming!
No More “Night Time Blues” as a Night Time Snacker to Lose Weight
If you are a nighttime snacker, abolish the “Night Time Blues.” You can do this! You can eat healthy, delicious meals during the day and feel content throughout the nighttime without snacking before sleep. Think of it as the way to complete your day and feel empowered that you have successfully planned a great eating day. You are in control of your plan. Nighttime blues - no more!
ABOUT THE AUTHORSharon George, MS, RD, CDN received her B.A. in Psychology from Syracuse University. She completed a second Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition at L.I.U.C.W. Post and received her Master’s degree in Community Counseling from Hofstra University. She has been published in OH Magazine and Bariatrics Today. Sharon has dedicated her career to Bariatric Nutrition for the past 15 years at the New York Bariatric Group.
Read more articles from Sharon!