Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Habit-A-Week Challenge: Avoid Nighttime Snacking

It's Tuesday, that lovely day when we can choose to focus on another healthy habit to make life better. This week, it's about avoiding (excessive) nighttime snacking. Click here to read the details of this challenge; then come back and finish reading this post.

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So, this is something that made a HUGE difference to me as I lost 64 pounds in 2008-9. Stopping the eating after dinner allowed me to break the bad habits of mindless snacking, searching, munching. When I don't follow this rule, there have been times when I'd have a perfectly good, on-plan day and then ruin it by eating 1000 calories in junk at night. Maybe it's because I am tired at night and my defenses are down, I don't know. But it is just easier to overdo it in the evenings, even after a good day.

My policy is this: don't eat after dinner, as a general rule. BUT, if you are truly hungry before bedtime, have a small protein-rich snack like a few almonds or a string cheese... something 100 calories or less. I cannot sleep well if I am truly hungry. No need to torture ourselves. Eat what is needed, if it is needed, but don't go overboard.

What I am doing now? I do get one snack after dinner on Medifast. It is a protein-rich snack and it is around 100 calories. It helps me keep my blood sugar stable and not go to bed with a rumbling tummy.

How do you handle evening snacks? Has nighttime eating been a problem for you?

29 comments:

Emma said...

this is by far my biggest issue. I can be on plan all day - even whkle on holiday - then night time roles around. It's when I'm most likely to binge eat, or eat something bad or just eat over my allocated points. I know it's because after a really active and long day when I get home from work I'm too exhausted to do anything else so i eat. I feel like I deserve it because I had a long day at work.

I find keeping busy with simple things like reading blogs or reading a book (not just mindless tv watching) has really helped. Also having a cup of hot chai tea and planning a good dinner and dessert.

TheLosingAmerican said...

This was also a problem for me that I managed to axe. I would either try to do something other than sitting in front of the TV (as that usually led to mindless eating), OR, sit there with a cup of herbal tea, so I had at least something to distract me.

Lovely Lacey said...

This is such a good tip. It is way way too easy to snack at night while watching tv. It is always best if I keep busy by either reading a book or working on a crafty project.

Weighting Around said...

I'm still fighting the night time snack attack and am trying to get it under control. A nice hot cup of tea helps for me, too, but it is a struggle I don't often win...

Claire said...

I have raspberries/cherries and yoghurt after my tea then about 9pm I have crackers with hummus. Nothing else. I couldn't cut out night time eating altogether as I get hungry.

CJ said...

I never snacked at night. Too busy sleeping ;0 But my pet peeve is the time between dinner and when I am back from college. I always end up binging on rich, sugary,junk food at that time :(

Leslie said...

Hi Lyn,
This is my #1 offender in the eating arena. Nighttime eating has been largely responsiblefor my 5 month plateau. I can eat entirely clean all day, and then after dinner undo all the good of the day. It's a terrible habit.
This is an excellent choice for me to focus on this week.

I'm thinking of you a lot with the Medifast and hope you have a good experience with it. But for now, I wish for you an excellent day.

Seth said...

I do my workouts at night so I always have a smoothie afterward. Many times it is about 30 minutes to an hour before I go to bed -- it def. works for me.

Dinah Soar said...

I don't get hungry after supper if I've eaten well during the day..by that I mean sufficient quantities of real food--veg, fruit, protein. If I eat empty calories--junk--with no fiber or little protein, then I'm hungry all day long and at bedtime I'll have cravings. I think those cravings are my body telling me it needs some real nourishment, not the junk I gave it. I've noted if I get adequate fiber and foods that are cooked from scratch versus processed I also don't crave food after supper. Honestly, I do believe that processed food has additives that are addictive. Even some of the 'healthy' stuff does. Eat a lot of 'plain'-- as in food that is in its natural state aside from cooking-- and you will not only be filled, you won't want more and more--at least that is my experience..those foods can become almost boring..when I'm bored with food it loses its appeal..so when my tummy is full I quit eating.

You could put me in front of a huge buffet starving and if the food all tasted nasty you can be sure I wouldn't eat much. But put me in front of a wonderful tasting buffet not hungry and you can as well be sure I'll eat--event to the point of being uncomfortable. That tells you something doesn't it.

One last thing--sorry this is so long--I've been taking one level teaspoon of Metamucil in a glass of water 3 times a day...the extra fiber in my stomach is filling and seems to curb cravings..and the label says it helps lower cholesterol as well. I take it --doctors orders-- for IBS.

PatriciaW said...

Snacking after 5pm is my biggest problem. Even when I have a small snack mid-afternoon, I find myself gnoshing while preparing the evening meal, and then continuing to snack after dinner. It's part hunger and part bad habit, since I don't stop even when I'm not really hungry.

Reading doesn't help me because I do that all the time. I'll take breaks and grab a snack. But if I have the opportunity to engage myself in something, away from the house, or at least the kitchen, I tend to do fine.

Debbie said...

Overeating after supper is a HUGE problem for me. I just don't feel happy unless I have some sort of "treat" in the evenings. I try to keep it under 200 calories - otherwise I always go overboard. Thanks for the reminder to pay attention to this!

Anonymous said...

I save 2 points for some Greek yogurt before bedtime. I can't sleep if I'm hungry either. If I don't need it, then I don't eat anything.

Jessica said...

Nighttime eating used to be a problem for me. Now I'm out of the habit, and we always eat dinner late so it's easier. I always have to have a predinner snack, because of our late dinners.

Farah said...

This is a huge problem for me. For a variety of reasons, I find that the best way to keep myself in check is to work out after the kids are in bed. Then I'm just fresh from the endorphins and I can eat one snack if I'm hungry and drink a lot of water and I do ok. On the nights I don't work out at night, or not at all, I really struggle. I also can eat a LOT of calories in a short stretch of time, and then I go to bed feeling ill and angry at myself. I also find that the later I stay up, the weaker my will power gets. So I try to go upstairs to shower and get ready for bed shortly after I've cooled down from my workout.

Lyn said...

To those who work out in the evenings... do you find it affects your sleep at all (for better or worse)? I find that if I exercise after, say, 8:30PM, I am energized and stay up too late. Evening IS my biking time (when I am biking) but I have to keep it a little earlier.

Great tips all, thanks :)

MsMagnetism said...

I had been doing so well with avoiding nighttime snacking until last night..What a good thing for me to refocus on today.

Seth said...

I enjoy working out in the mornings but I am not a morning person -- I already have to get up at 6:30 and while that may not be much for someone...it's always a huge accomplishment for me :)

I normally work out in the evenings and find that I have quality sleep. My day is usually so packed with other things that I don't get to workout until 10:00 most nights and after a good workout, smoothie, blog post, and a shower....I'm ready for bed and sleep well.

It may not be for everyone but this year so far has been a HUGE success for me and weight loss so I'm sticking with it.

happyfunpants said...

Eesh.

My issue isn't snacking after dinner...it's extending my dinner time to include lots of snacks.

:)

Stopping that would be huge in my weight loss...but some days I lack the strength to do so.

Clearly, I must think on this.

-J.Darling said...

I've struggled with this too. ESPECIALLY if I've been drinking.
But I too have learned that a small snack can sometimes work - or a couple of tall glasses of water.

I often find that I can sleep through hunger. ;)

-J.Darling said...

Oh! I also keep air-popped popcorn on hand! It's crunchy (which is a major snack craving), high fiber, and really only as fatty as what you put on it. ;)

Blossom said...

Nighttime eating is a HUGE issue for me. I'd say that's where I usually fall off plan. It's something I struggle with most days.

M said...

My husband is a HUGE after-dinner snacker. It's usually because we're then watching a fave show or the current NetFlix movies we received in the mail. I watch him every night as he snacks, and I feel awful and miserable. I would want a snack too! So what I do is plan a tiny healthy snack for me as he eats his. It has been working for me.

Goaledgirl said...

This has to be, by far, my WORST habit. I do good when I drink hot tea in the evenings instead.

Bella said...

I love to munch on something while watching television at night. Since I know I'm going to be reaching for something, I work it into my daily eating plan. I also make sure that my after dinner snack is a relatively guilt-free one - fruit, air-popped popcorn, or a vitatop. I also try to eat the snack as slowly as possible.

DCKate said...

I am SUCH a nighttime snacker. Sometimes I'm actually hungry, but mostly it's a comfort thing, and I totally know that. I usually can work it into my points for the day, but I know it's still not a good idea. Definitely something I have to work on.

Rob Dyess said...

Before I lost weight, night eating was very big for me... I would sometimes get up in the middle of the night to get something out of the frige... or more specifically out of the freezer (ice cream).

Over the last couple of years, I have changed this in the sense that I just have a small snack between dinner and bed.

Another thing, I get up so early now... because I work out in the early mornings--- I think that that has made it easier for me. Just a thought!!

Thanks!! Enjoy your blog.

Rob

www.weighdownsouth.com

Anonymous said...

You'll laugh but I have resorted to going to bed early. Well, not really going to bed but staying in the bedroom, getting the PJs on, and getting into bed. I find it so much harder to get out of that warm bed and eat something in the PJs than just stay in bed.

MargieAnne said...

3.30 pm on can be a nightmare of deprivation if I'm having a high carbohydrate day. I get soooo hungry and this would continue past eating my main meal and on into the night. On Low Carb it doesn't seem to happen and when it does I can control myself a whole heap better. It does help to eat protein at regular intervals throughout the day. My afternoon snack is usually something protein with lettuce or a piece of fruit/nuts. If tea/dinner is late I have another similar snack. One of my favourites, apart form the quick grab a piece of cheese, is plain yoghurt with fresh fruit. I'm wanting to eat less and less outside my main meals and snacks. I seldom eat anything after dinner now .... that surprises me.

screwdestiny said...

This is probably one of the biggest things I need to work on. I have a job in which I always get off sometimes between 9 pm to midnight. So when I get home, I usually want something to eat, even though it's late. Lately I have been better at controlling the "want" and only eating if I truly am hungry. Brushing my teeth works well for me, too.