Do you know that feeling? The one where you’ve finished a healthy dinner and then thought to yourself, “I’m hungry, I need a snack,” and before you know it, the entire bag of chips or carton of ice cream is gone and you stop and think, “Wow, who just ate that?”
I’ve lost count of the clients that have come to me about eating late at night (or even waking up to eat in the middle of the night). They feel ashamed and guilty and think something is wrong with them. They often say, “If only I had a little more willpower ...”
The good news is that this isn’t willpower problem. In most cases it’s a human physiology problem. But, you can stack the cards in your favor and say good bye to the late-night eating and that is exploding your waistline and crushing your health goals.
Here are the keys to your evening success:
Eat Smarter: Eating regular, healthy meals and snacks throughout the day controls your blood-sugar levels so you’re less likely to crave sugar and fat later in the day. So don’t skip meals and eat a minimum of three meals per day. Evening meals and snacks tend to be the highest in fat, so do your best to make healthy food choices at this time. Whenever possible, choose foods that are rich in nutrients, high in fiber and balanced with lean protein and healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado or nuts and seeds. One super-powerful strategy is to eat larger meals earlier in the day and have them taper down as you approach the evening. Not only will this help your digestion, it’ll provide you more energy in the day when you need it instead of at night when you are sleeping.
Say yes to hot beverages: Get in the habit of enjoying a hot cup of herbal tea at night. Tea comes in so many great flavors that you’ll never be bored. In the warmer months, have a glass of iced tea instead.According to a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, people who drank one cup of black tea after eating high-carb foods decreased their blood-sugar levels by 10% for the next 2.5 hours (this means they stayed full longer and had fewer cravings). Researchers credit the polyphenolic compounds in black tea for this hunger-suppressing boost.
Find other ways to relax: For many, the end of the day brings with it resting and relaxation. The key here is to find ways to unwind that don’t include pre-dinner snacking. Planning an evening walk with a friend or spending some time on a new hobby can not only strengthen your relationships and provide enjoyment, but can help you relax while you wait for dinner or let your food digest afterwards.Late night eating is a problem for many, and it plays a big role in not looking or feeling your best. But it doesn’t have to be. You can use this as some extra “you” time to take a walk, join a class, or try a new hobby.
Fran Sutherlin is a local registered dietitian, health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition, which has offices in Durango and Bayfield. She can be reached at 444-2122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.