Do you have a post-dinner routine of grabbing a snack or dessert and parking yourself in front of the TV, despite the fact that you aren’t truly hungry? Or maybe you frequently skip dinner altogether, only to find yourself ravenously raiding the pantry for a late night snack. Do you get out of bed in the wee hours of the night and head straight to the fridge? Late night eating is one of the quickest ways to gain extra pounds, and sets you up for not feeling hungry for breakfast. If nighttime eating feels out of control for you, consider the following:
- You’re not eating enough during the day. It makes sense that depriving yourself of nourishment during the day will trigger overeating at night. Eating balanced meals and snacks at regular intervals throughout the day is important for maintaining stable blood sugar and insulin levels and avoiding hunger binges at night. Eating multiple mini-meals spaced evenly throughout the day can help you avoid the evening binge.
- You’re not getting enough sleep. Less time sleeping simply means more opportunity to eat. Plus, several studies suggest that sleep deprivation actually disrupts hormones that regulate satiety and hunger. Furthermore, feeling fatigued can be mistaken for hunger.
- Food is an emotional crutch. Eating can be a way to avoid difficult feelings such as boredom, loneliness, and anxiety, which can feel more intense in the evening hours at home. Eating can also be used to procrastinate when we feel overwhelmed with dreaded chores or tasks. Indeed, food can be comforting, and a source of pleasure and relaxation – but think about the role it plays in your life. Is it one of your main sources of comfort, relaxation, or pleasure?
- Night eating syndrome, or NED, is a sleep related eating disorder characterized by reduced feeding during the day (due to little or no appetite, and/or feelings of guilt and anxiety about eating) and overeating at night, specifically getting out of bed just to eat. NED is often associated with obesity and depressed mood.
- A Zing bar provides a nice balance of low GI carb, healthy fat, and lean protein, plus you can choose a flavor that seems like dessert (instead of reaching for that brownie!) Try a Chocolate Coconut or Dark Chocolate Hazelnut bar.
- Try a couple of turkey roll-ups, such as avocado and apple slices rolled up in slices of deli turkey.
- Easy and satisfying apple slices with nut butter for dipping (or a small handful of nuts).