3 Tips For Preventing Late Night Snacking
Whenever I ask my clients what the most difficult habit is for them to break, late night snacking is often the first thing they say. This doesn’t surprise me. What is wrong with a little late night snacking? It may seem like indulging on a small something is no big deal, but those calories add up, especially if you are into spooning ice cream from the container or eating mindlessly out of a pretzel bag. A 200 calorie snack 7 nights a week means extra 1400 calories, a whole day’s worth.
Even if you enjoy your job, you are still subject to countless stressors throughout the day that deplete your cognitive resources especially those required for self-control. Without a well of willpower to rely on at the end of the day, our brains go into autopilot to avoid more heavy lifting.
For these reasons, more than at any other time of day our evening actions are guided by habit. All the cues and triggers around our home the TV, computer, couch, etc. guide us mindlessly to the pantry for the cookies, or the freezer for the ice cream, and we eat to our heart’s content . Stopping doesn’t even occur to us. We just continue until the cookies are gone, or the carton is empty.
It makes sense that these late night eating habits are particularly difficult to kick. Bad food habits are hard to break as is, but at night we have even less self-control than at other times of day for reshaping them, so we usually don’t even try. These habits are also especially strong, since they are deeply entrenched through weeks, months and years of repetition.
So what should we do?
People snack for two reasons, they are actually hungry or it’s a habit they can’t seem to shake. To handle both these issues, adopt these 3 tips to help change your unhealthy late-night snacking ritual.
The Three-Hour Rule
If you’re limiting calories to drop pounds, be careful not to feel so deprived by the end of the day that you can’t help but inhale an entire batch of brownies. Keep yourself energized and feeling full by eating every two to three hours (breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with two snacks in between). It’ll prevent that famished feeling from sending you into the kitchen after dinner.
If you eat out of habit and you’re not really hungry, keep a glass of water or a warm cup of decaffeinated tea close by to keep your hands and mouth busy. It’ll also fill you up, keeping hunger pangs at bay.
Give It a Week
Plopping yourself on the couch in front of the TV is a common way to unwind after a long day, but if you’re used to holding the remote in one hand and something to eat in the other, it’ll be a tough habit to break. Avoid places and situations that cause you to eat late at night by switching up your routine. Take a walk after dinner, do a quick workout video, read a book or call a friend. It’ll be tough for the first week, but once you break the cycle of eating out of routine, not snacking at night will become your new habit.
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