Did you know that there’s an obesity crisis in North America?
The many different causes of obesity, some having to do with hormonal and metabolic issues which I see a lot of with many people I have worked with over the years. Of course sometimes it is just eating too much and too often, especially at night.
Many of my female clients have said that the evening is their “me time”, after the work day is done and the kids are in bed. They want this down time to be enjoyable and relaxing so they often turn to food to make this time even more enjoyable. This leads to a pattern of late night snacking.
Nighttime eating can cause you to gain more weight due to the fact that you end up eating more food than necessary and these snacks are usually not particularly healthy.
I also do DNA testing with clients and there are people who are even more susceptible to snacking due to a gene MC4R which regulates hunger cues. For some people their brain does not register that they are full and there is a miscommunication between the brain and the stomach the result of which is that they “think” they are hungry when in fact they do not need food. This is completely manageable but it certainly gives my clients peace of mind once they understand why they have a hard time breaking the habit of night time snacking.
Read on if you want to know how to stop yourself from indulging in a late night snack.
1. Identify the Cause
There are some people that eat their food in the evening or during the course of the night. If you’re one of these people, changing the habit requires you to identify the reason behind it. After all, eating late at night might be the result of restrictive, empty calorie eating habits during the day, making you hungrier at night.
Making sure you eat whole food that is nutritional during the day that includes proteins, fats, high fibre, low glycemic foods will help your body feel satisfied and you will not feel you need to eat more later at night.
2. Identify the Triggers
Aside from the main cause, you need to look into the specific events that set off night eating. If you’re not hungry but find yourself eating at night, retrace your steps and find out the cause of what led you to eat.
In most cases, you’ll find yourself fulfilling a need that isn’t related to hunger at all. A good way to track your nighttime eating triggers is to keep a journal that relates your mood while eating. I spend a lot of time discussing this during my coaching sessions with clients. Once they identify the true underlying reason why they are wanting to eat then we can come up with a plan to manage those triggers.
3. Develop a Routine
If you’re not eating enough during the day, it’s better to get into a habit. Using structured eating and sleeping times often helps spread your appetite as the day passes since it helps you lessen your hunger when the night comes.
You also need to get some good sleep since your calorie intake and lack of sleep have a link, with the latter causing you to have poor diet quality. Poor sleep quality can increase your obesity risk and lead you to develop more diseases.
4. Develop a Meal Plan
You can learn how to stop eating at night by making a meal plan as part of your daily activities. Plan your meals and start eating healthy late night snacks if you can’t stop. At the very least, having healthy food reduces the chances of you eating on impulse and making poor snack choices.
It reduces your food anxiety and helps distribute meals as the day progresses.
5. Manage Stress
The two most common reasons people overeat even without hunger is anxiety and stress. Using food to relieve yourself of these feelings is not the best solution. As soon as you notice that you eat more when you feel these, stop and try different means of relaxing and letting go of your negative emotions.
You can try relaxation techniques like breathing exercises or meditation. Try some gentle exercises or stretching and see what works for you. Drink a cup of herbal tea that supports relaxation.
6. Have a Protein-filled Meal
Your appetite gets affected by the type of food you eat. Eating out of hunger is best satisfied when you include protein and fat in your meal. It helps you become more or less satisfied during the day and stops you from thinking about food and late night snacking.
Take a look at your dinner and make sure you are consuming protein and fats. If it is a carb heavy meal that will burn more quickly and your blood sugar will drop which is often a trigger to eat again. Protein and fats will sustain your feeling of fullness and satiety longer into the evening.
Frequent meals rich in protein reduce your craving by more than half. It cuts your desire to eat at night by 50%.
7. Get Rid of Junk Food
If you have the tendency to eat high-fat junk food at night, get rid of it. You’re less likely to eat them when you can’t reach them in the first place. Fill your house with the best healthy late night snacks so that you have something healthy at least when you do eat at night.
Get some veg and salsa, berries, yogurt, and other healthy options. These are filling and prevent you from eating a lot at night. One of my clients found that snacking on a few frozen berries felt like a treat and satisfied her desire to snack.
8. Distract Yourself from Hunger
Often, you overeat due to the fact that you have nothing else to do, find something else to enjoy during the evening. Occupy your mind with thoughts other than food. The best way to do this is through finding new hobbies or other late evening activities that take you away from the mindless eating to relieve boredom.
Prevent Late Night Snacking Today!
There are a lot of things you can do to have a healthier eating pattern. Late night snacking isn’t something you can prevent in its entirety. Even so, you can at least have healthier options to ensure that you don’t gain ungodly amounts of weight when you do it on a regular basis.
But if you want to shave off some pounds due to your unhealthy eating habits and feel you need a nutritional plan along with behavioural support then reach out to me and book a 15 minute assessment call so we can discuss what would help you with this.
You are not alone, this is one of the most common behavioural challenges I have seen people struggle with and it is completely possible to make the necessary changes so that it makes the weight loss journey more enjoyable and successful.