You’ve finished dinner, cleaned up the dishes and retire to the couch to watch re-runs of Friends and that’s when you start thinking about the chips that you stashed away in the pantry…
Many of my clients come to me telling me that they eat “good” all day to only raid their pantry in the evening for anything salty or sweet or both!
So how do you end late-night snacking for good?
The first question you should consider at this moment is “Are you actually physically hungry?” Check out my blog on hunger cues if you’re not sure.
This question is key because many people restrict how much they eat during the day which leaves their body starving for food later. So, are you fuelling properly?
What does fuelling properly mean? It is supplying your body with wholesome satisfying nutrients throughout the day in balance. A general guideline for fueling your body would be to have a meal or snack every 3-4 hours. With each meal/snack think of the 3 musketeers: protein, fat, carbohydrates. By including all three macronutrients it helps you feel satisfied after eating.
Protein takes longer to digest and stays in the stomach the longest of the 3 macronutrients. So, it helps you feel satisfied longer, balances out blood sugar with a steady release of glucose instead of quick absorption that you would see from table sugar. Adding a bit of protein to your snacks with up your satisfaction. Having an apple is great but you can make that snack more satisfying if you pair it with nut butter or a handful of nuts. A general rule for the amount of protein you require at each meal would be one 1 palm-size serving for women and 2 palm-size servings for men.
Dietary fat triggers the release of a hormone called cholecystokinin which suppresses hunger, allowing you to feel satiated after eating. A general rule for the amount of fat you require at each meal is about a thumb worth (unless you’re following a keto diet protocol).
Carbohydrates are not just pasta, bread, and pastries. Carbohydrates are also found in foods such as vegetables, fruits, and nuts/seeds. Carbohydrates are broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream as glucose. The quality of carbohydrates determines how quickly that happens.
Simple carbs found in sweets, candy, pop, fruit juice, table sugar – are absorbed very quickly resulting in a large spike in blood sugar followed by a crash – it is that crash that we are trying to avoid because it leaves you craving more sugar to quickly bring your blood sugar back up. Instead, try to choose complex carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables. The fibre found in these slows down the rate at which they are absorbed leaving you with a steady release of glucose into the bloodstream. My guideline for carbohydrates is the more vegetables the better! I suggest filling the rest of your plate with as many vegetables as you can.
Following a balanced meal plan can be very helpful in showing you how nourishing your body throughout the day and greatly impact your eating habits. (The Meal Plan Club offers monthly balanced meal plans for less than your Netflix subscription.)
For many people, the above fuelling methods will greatly impact their late-night snacking. If you answered “no” to the first question about physical hunger, the next question is – "what are you experiencing right now that is triggering you to eat?"
Many people are so busy during the day that they really don’t pay attention or notice how they are feeling in their body. It is much easier to avoid feeling when you’re busy at work or running your kids around. Which is why that quiet hour alone can bring up the feelings you’ve been avoiding all day. I propose instead of eating, can you identify what emotion you are feeling?
From there, try closing your eyes and taking 6 deep belly breaths and journaling it out. (If you want more guidance on this check out my 30-Day Emotional Eating Challenge.)
You can begin to change the habit of late-night snacking by doing something else. I have always believed that a big part of ending emotional eating is to know what else you can do instead of eating. What would really be helpful? What do you really need at the moment that you’re reaching for food because most of the time it is not food that we need. I really like this exercise based on Dr. Susan Albers work that I’m calling 5 x 5.
Write out the following:
5 people you can call and talk to when you need support.
5 things you can do to relax when you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed or anxious.
5 places you can go to calm down when you need to.
5 mantras you can repeat to yourself when the negative self-talk comes up.
5 activities to distract yourself when you have an urge to eat but you’re not physically hungry.
What to do next...
Any questions? Leave me a comment below.
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