Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How I curbed late-night snacking

Today at the gym I read a magazine article entitled "Are you a nighttime nibbler?" At first I was about to flip over the article, assuming that it would talk about the "same old, same old" that I have read a million times before.

It then occurred to me that I have come a long way in this area myself! I wanted to just list a couple quick tips from the magazine article as well as what I have learned from personal experience.

* Decide how many snacks you will "allow" yourself to have and then stick to it

* Don't skip meals throughout the day so that you can snack later, because this only sets you up to overindulge

* Tend to your stress, since many of us partake in night-time eating due to stress we don't want to confront

All good points, but many are easier said than done. As someone who used to be a chronic night-time snacker to the point of practicaly bingeing, here are some things I have learned:

* Ever since I have began eating more of a "high-raw" diet, my night-time cravings have diminished greatly. I think this is due to the fact that I am eating much, much less processed foods (sugar, bread, processed sauces, etc.) that generally can trigger cravings

* End your meal with a mint, a hot (or cold) cup of tea, or by brushing your teeth. If you make this a habit, it will become a signal for you that dinner is truly over. Plus, out of pure laziness, I rarely want to brush my teeth twice in one night ;)

* Find some good, flavored teas that you will enjoy, such as chocolate or chai

* If you do need a sweet, chocolately snack, have some dark chocolate - the darker the better, for many reasons. Dark chocolate has more antioxidants than milk chocolate, is usually vegan (so the lack of dairy won't upset your stomach if you are prone to this, as I am), and I've found that it is easier to stop at a few pieces of dark chocolate vs. milk chocolate that I could eat all day!

* I've found that whenever I eat anything late at night, I will have stomach cramps when I wake up the next day. Honestly, who wants to start the day feeling bloated and full? I would much rather start the day feeling light and full of energy! My allergist told me that the vast majority of people suffer from some type of acid reflux (whether it has been formally diagnosed or not), and that everyone can benefit from having a "cut-off" time at night after which they do not eat.

* Distract yourself with hobbies that you enjoy, whether it is watching tv or reading a good book. I am partial to reading a good book or knitting while watching tv (I know, I'm such an old lady!), or sometimes giving myself a mani-pedi

* I know that no matter what, I will probably want a snack - probably chocolate - at some point over the course of the evening. Instead of snacking on chocolate (which has many health benefits but hey, is a bit expensive if you are buying the good-quality stuff!) both after dinner and later as a snack, I ask myself to wait a while before indulging in the snack

* I used to be of the "if I overindulge once, my healthy eating is over and I may as well go off the deep end and eat a whole pan of brownies" mentality. However, as simple as it sounds, I have recently begun to realize that if I go to bed still craving something, that's ok! I can always have some the next day - and this realization makes me realize that it is often not an actual craving for the food but just craving something that I used to think was forbidden

* Many people find that keeping a food journal helps them to realize just how much they are eating at night. Although I don't do this as much anymore (just sometimes so that I can keep track for blog purposes!), for a while this truly did help me realize just how much I was eating after dinner alone (a lot!)

* For me, food is no longer about "good" and "bad" and what I am "allowed to have" vs. what is "off limits". I find that when I think about what food makes me feel good mentally and physically, what food will make me run better and what food will provide me with the nutrients and vitality for long-term good health, THIS is how I truly make good food choices. When you are tempted to snack on a gallon of ice cream at 11pm - while it is ok to have a reasonable amount - ask yourself if you are truly doing your body a favor by eating more than it wants. After making what I consider to be "healthy eating" choices throughout the day, I know that I don't want to mess up that good work by eating the gallon of ice cream!

Now, as I've alluded to, I do not think it is bad to eat late at night. However, many people (myself included) have the temptation to overindulge at night which more often than not leads to feelings of guilt and remorse. These tips have helped me - what are your tips for not going overboard on night-time snacking?


  1. I love your idea of having something minty or just brushing my teeth. You're right... no one wants to brush their teeth twice!

  2. Ugh I am terrible with night snacking! And its usually because my stomach is growling. I eat dinner later now and try to fill up on more volume. I think hot tea is a really good, comforting choice instead of food, but if I am truly hungry I try to have whole grain bread with pb or something that is hearty but not sugary. I used to eat milk and cookies, but it kept me wired!!

  3. Hello, love your blog. Definitely brushing my teeth helps as well as drinking water and or ginger or peppermint tea.

  4. What great tips, Val! I esp loved this part where you said that often times you aren't really craving something because you really want it, but because it's forbidden. Labeling things as "yes" and "no" sure backfires!

  5. wow so glad I stopped by from HangryPants this was a great post! I"m also excited to learn more about your high raw diet, since I've been testing the waters!

  6. Great post. I think you covered most tips.
    I pre-cut my dark chocolate so that I won't be tempted to break off a larger chunk some nights. :P