I think many of us struggle with late night eating, don’t we? It can almost become habitual and soothing when we’re sitting around watching TV or hanging out in the kitchen right?
Okay, so you’re probably thinking, well tell me what to do Kim!! Here’s what I’ll often ask myself when I’m about to dig my head into the pantry or fridge. And trust me, I still struggle at times but now I can stop myself and ask am I really hungry?
Question 1: “Did I eat enough today?”
This one is huge because of course it’s our body’s natural way of telling us we need more food! This is not an emotional hunger (which I will touch on below), this is purely physical. How do we know if we’re really hungry? We feel dizzy, fatigued, unable to concentrate and our stomach is growling. What I like to do is take out a pen and paper and quickly write down what I ate for the day and if I can be honest with myself and see that I didn’t get enough calories, then I will eat something with some protein and fat. Like some celery with PB, cheese on crackers, yogurt with some nuts or avocado on Ezekiel bread. I try to avoid anything with lots of sugar as that tends to make my hunger even worse, especially at night time. I know it’s much easier to reach for the carbs like chips, crackers, etc. but that’s not very satisfying because we end up wanting more, right? I mean, who binges on chicken breasts? Remember we don’t have to stuff our faces, just pick something that will take the edge off because there’s always tomorrow!
Question 2: “Did I do any pre dinner planning?”
This one can get me in trouble pretty quickly if I’m not careful. If I’m working late and go to the fridge to eat dinner and I don’t have anything prepped I will start to pick. I will grab this and that and before I know it I’ve eaten all these “snacks” and still don’t feel satisfied. Does this happen to you? Here’s a solution. Keep some basics in the fridge at all times. Eggs or any protein source, pre-sliced chicken (you can get this at the store), cottage cheese, Ezekiel Bread (my fav), fruit, and some veggies. (Frozen work great too) I’ll also get those packs of frozen quinoa, rice, etc in the freezer and they are super easy to pop in the microwave for 3-4 minutes. Many times I’ll throw that in the microwave, cook some eggs and throw a handful of spinach on the plate to keep it simple and quick. Again, it’s all about simplicity, we don’t need to make a gourmet meal when we are ravenous and wanting to eat everything in site. Remember-protein, fat and starch.
Question 3: “Am I really hungry or am I bored, lonely or tired?”
This is a question we all really need to be honest about. Of course I can justify that I’m always hungry and many times I’m not. How easy is it for us to plop down in front of the TV, zone out and throw something crunchy in our mouths? Before we know it we’ve polished off a whole bag of popcorn or crackers. I know I’ve done it more times that I can count and then wake up feeling bloated and gross. My suggestion is to get something warm to drink and try that first. Heat up a warm cup of tea and sit down with a book, journal or call a friend to distract yourself. Many times that craving will go away once we distract our brains with another thought. It’s so easy to grab food when our feelings come up so why not lean towards another outlet that will satisfy our emotional desires? Truly sit with your feelings for a moment and ask, “What am I really hungry for?” Many times it’s not the food, what we’re really craving is intimacy, connection and contentment.
Question 4: “Is this becoming habitual?”
This is another great question to ask ourselves. If I take a step back I can typically see a pattern and a ritual that’s been around for a bit. Typically, I’ll find that the food is something I grab without even thinking about it and before I know it, I’m reaching for it every time I walk in the door. For a while, I would come home and immediately go to the pantry to grab my favorite crackers to eat something crunchy. Then I decided to switch up my routine and it worked, I put something else in place of the crackers and would take the dogs for a walk. That helped me tremendously.
I hope these helped and can guide you in the future!
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