Thursday, June 21, 2012

Nighttime Eating, A Destructive Habit

So the calorie counting went great yesterday, at least until evening. I stuck with my plan and was under 1400 calories after our yummy wild salmon dinner, but as always, I wanted to eat eat eat at night. It's a really bad habit. One sugar-free ice cream bar and an ounce of macadamia nuts later, I was up to 1750 calories. Still under my 'ceiling' of 1800, but still.

Back when I was counting calories before, I always had a rule: no eating after dinner, at all, *unless* I was truly stomach-growling hungry to the point it might interfere with sleep. Then I could have up to 100 calories, usually almonds or a light string cheese. Sometimes I could get by just sipping calorie-free hot herbal tea or eating a sugar free Jello, but in general I just quit eating after dinner, brushed my teeth, and that was it. It saved me a *lot* of calories. I would guess in the past 3 months, about 30% of my calories have been eaten after 7pm.

Why do I get so antsy to eat after dinner? It's not usually hunger. It's just my way to 'relax' and enjoy my time alone when my daughter's asleep and the dogs are chilling out, all is quiet and I am winding down for bed. But it's just a habit, one I can break again. I am going back to the old rule of not eating after dinner except for 100 calories if I am truly hungry. This is going to be a challenge for me. I think actually a lot of emotions crop up in the evening when I am alone and it is so quiet. I might start to think about recent losses, or other things in my life that are stressful or upsetting. And I use food to quiet those thoughts down. I guess I need to go back to feeling the feelings. I am not looking forward to that, but an evening sobbing on my bed is probably a better use of my time than sitting on the couch eating a bunch of random stuff. And once the feelings are out and dealt with, I can use that quiet evening time to resolve anything that is bothering me. That way, my quiet hours will become productive, rather than destructive.

I am experimenting with different breakfasts to see what works, what feels good, what keeps me full longer. I was eating eggs pretty much every morning lately and am a bit burned out on them. Today I had oatmeal with slivered almonds and half a banana cooked in, with skim milk on top. It was very good but not filling. It only had 8 grams of protein in the entire meal, so if I have oatmeal again I will cut back on the oats and add more protein, maybe in the form of egg whites cooked in or Greek yogurt stirred in at the end instead of milk.

My kind neighbor gave me a huge bag of spinach from her garden, so that is on the menu for today. I'll probably make one of those yummy spinach salads with the sliced hard boiled eggs and crumbled bacon and a homemade vinaigrette. The rest will get cooked into an omelet for tomorrow's breakfast.

I've started my PT exercises again and am finally able to walk up AND down stairs normally (but slowly). I only do a few at a time, but I am getting there! I also will do some upper body strength training this afternoon. Three times a week is my goal.


Anonymous said...

My general rule that I really feel helps me stay slim: NO eating after dinner unless it' a healthy "dessert" like fruit. & that comes literally right after dinner. No eating after that. No late night or even early evening snacking. It is just a bad, bad thing for me.

I stick to this most days. I will have off-times, but those are recognized as off-times and it is not a regular thing.

If you stick to that, say, close to 99% of the time, it helps a lot, and without much work. Think of it as something you just DON'T do, like not eating fast food.

I used to have a big issue with nigh eating too and it took me a while to break this. It was really difficult at first and even painful-it was a comforting habit for me as well as an addiction.

It can be done, though. It just takes time and self-control.


Andra said...

If I don't eat enough at breakfast and lunch my appetite will drive me to nighttime eating/overeating. The key for me is fat and protein, especially if I'm eating grains in the morning. I like whisking two whole eggs into my bowl of oatmeal. Custard oats are delicious and filling.

Anonymous said...

& wanting to clarify fruit is really the only thing i have for my after-dinner treat. Sometimes yogurt but mostly fruit. No traditional desserts or weight watchers smart ones, lol.


Jamie Mckay said...

Eating too late is definitely my biggest problem! I am better at exercising long and hard than keeping good eating habits. Thanks for the post, as always :)))

Anonymous said...

I also have a hard time not eating at night and developed some weird habits like going through a whole pack of sugar free gum out of anxiety over it. The only (healthy) thing that seems to work is a serious distraction like going to the gym, watching a movie, reading a really good book, etc. Allowing myself a 100 calorie snack only seems to work if it's something that lasts awhile and is filling. The 100 calorie bags of popcorn, for example. Otherwise, the 100 calorie snacks tend to turn into 300 calorie snacks :(

Anonymous said...

I hear you on the night eating. I tend towards insomnia so any hunger just ruins my night. Sometimes melatonine helps since going to bed a tad peckish helps me reduce.

Vickie said...

I did not read other comments, might be repeating.

If I eat a good balanced breakfast,my nighttime goes better. I eat a 500 calorie breakfast, so it is a good chunk of my food day, but for me that works. If you want to know what I eat, let me know.

Habits, neuro pathways and loops also came to mind as I read. I just sent you an email with old post links.

timothy said...

do you meditate? that's the perfect time for it and it will help still the noise that's makin you want to eat!

Anonymous said...

I recently read that keeping your hands busy at night will cut down on late night eating. They suggested knitting, crocheting, crossword or painting your nails. I have opted for the nail painting and my nails have never looked so good and so far it really has stopped the snacking.

I enjoy reading your blog! Thanks for sharing.


Diandra said...

Are you tired in the evening? That might lead to more hunger/cravings... in that case, going to bed earlier might solve the problem.

MargieAnne said...

Hi. I too sometimes struggle with snacking too much after dinner. Night eating is a habit and not easy to break but you've done it before and you'll do it again.

As for being a time of letting your emotional stuff go you know what works best for you. I find it imperative that I keep my mind off the heavy stuff at night. Light reading, study nutrition and science, favourite relaxing music, Non stressful TV program, DVD, anything that doesn't cause a build up of stress. The best solution for me has been doing sudoku puzzles. I can fall asleep in the middle of doing one but I know that would be too stimulating for some so it's again, What works for you.

I like the idea of cleaning my teeth soon after dinner. I think that would work.