Do you find yourself eating in the evenings when you know you’re not really hungry? Nighttime eating is a major culprit for extra calories and weight gain. It can become something of a vicious cycle that you struggle to break away from but with the right mindset and tactics, it can be done. Here are some top tips for stopping nighttime eating.
What are the triggers?
A few potential triggers of nighttime eating include:
Tips for tackling nighttime eating
A lot of late night snacking is mindless and it’s often done on autopilot. How many times do you find yourself snacking in front of the television or while you’re cooking … often without even thinking about what you’re doing and whether you’re really hungry? Chances are, you’re not really aware of how much extra you’re eating. One way to avoid this is mindful eating. Get rid of any distractions that stop you from eating mindfully and make eating at the table a big deal. Mindful eating is the best way to get back in touch with your body’s natural hunger cues.
Change your routine
If you do a lot of your nighttime eating as part of a routine, it’s definitely time to have a go at breaking the habit and seeing if you can curb evening snack attacks.
For example, instead of snacking while you watch television, try doing something else while you catch up with your shows, especially in the breaks (which can trigger late night snacking if they feature junk food). Doing some mini workouts in the ad breaks (or working out throughout the whole show if you won’t get many other chances to get moving) or doing the ironing.
Always tend to veg out after dinner? Go for a walk instead. It’ll stop you from boredom and burn off a few calories (rather than adding any!).
Set a timer
Next time you get the urge to snack in an evening, set a timer to go off in 10 minutes. This is how long the average craving will last if you ignore it and find something else to occupy your mind.
In the meantime, distract yourself and see how you feel when the 10 minutes is up. You might be surprised to realize that the craving is no longer an issue. Positive self talk and affirmations can help with this too.
And if it still is? Go ahead and have a small snack … but swap the original craving for a healthier version.
Sip herbal teas
Dehydration can be a factor in cravings and sometimes, you may be thirsty rather than hungry. A glass of water can help but you may prefer to sip on a herbal tip instead, especially if you have go-to flavors to help you relax and have a “moment”.
Find other ways to reward yourself
If you often use food as a reward for a bad day, look for other ways to de-stress. Pamper yourself or have a relaxing soak in a warm bath, for example. This can help to train your brain away from the idea that food is an acceptable reward for a bad day. If this is usually a big trigger for starting off your nighttime eating, it can be a secret weapon in your efforts to move away from snack attacks.
Keep a food and mood diary
If you can’t spot any obvious patterns between your emotions and your nighttime eating, try keeping a food and mood diary. Note down how you were feeling when you wanted to snack or binge at night and you may be able to see some link. If you’re noticing that particular emotions are triggering late night snacking, you can work on tackling these.
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