You start the day with good intentions, oatmeal for breakfast, a grilled chicken salad for lunch and plenty of fresh fruits for snacks. You even eat a healthy dinner. Then darkness falls and all of the good intentions fade….one trip to the freezer for a scoop of ice cream becomes two, followed by a few handfuls of chips and the some sugary cereal straight from the box. So how do I stop late night eating?
Late night eating is a terrible problem for most dieters. Many people maintain good diets during the day only to blow it late at night when they finish work and loosen their belt.
First what are some of the reasons why you head to the kitchen after the sun goes down?
“I had a really stressful day at work so I deserve some junk food”
“I have to have something sweet before bed”
“I’m so careful about what I eat all day that by nightime I’m starving
Here are some simple strategies to stop late night eating
- Make a point to eat 3 good meals during the day with 1 or 2 between meal snacks. A lot of us try to eat too few calories during the day only to binge late at night. Make a point to eat most of your calories before 6 PM so that you are not tempted to snack late at night.
- When you go into the kitchen to look for that late night snack reach for a glass and try drinking 2 or more cups of water. You can also make a cup of herbal tea sweeten with honey or artificial sugar. Hot liquids have a soothing effect on emotions and appetite. Take your water or tea and drink them in another room.
- Go through your kitchen and hide your junk food. Much of late night eating after dinner can be avoided by hiding the junk food. Put foods that you’re prone to eat late at night out of sight. Better yet, don’t buy junk food at all, though this may not be possible if you have kids.
- Take a walk, go for a stroll around the neighborhood with your spouse, or make a regular walking date with a friend. You will not only burn calories but you will be farther away from the fridge and help to stop late night eating.
- The worst time for eating late is 1 hour after dinner right up to bedtime. Keep your mind on other things by working on a favorite hobby and NOT watching TV. The ads on TV can subconsciously trigger the impulse to eat. Boredom is your biggest danger to late night eating.
The good news is that eating at night doesn’t necessarily lead to weight gain. Despite the myth that calories consumed at night are metabolized more slowly than those consumed by day, the truth is that it’s how many calories you consume…not when you consume them…that matters. The real danger of nighttime eating is that it often results from unhealthy meal patterns, not hunger.