When the midnight munchies strike, is it out of hunger or habit? After awhile, it can be hard to tell. Are you reaching for the snacks because you didn't eat enough during the day, or is there simply a well-worn path to the refrigerator that you continue to follow? Distinguishing the difference between a need for nutrition and a lapse into an old habit is important to eliminate those extra, and empty, calories at night. Let's take a look at some ideas for breaking the snacking habit.
Eat Early and Often
Get your motor, your metabolism, running as soon as you wake up and keep it going all day with healthy meals and snacks throughout the day. If you deny your body fuel all day with a restrictive diet, you'll receive gentle reminders around bedtime that you're hungry.
Protein Beats Carbs
Carb craving is one of the most common snack nuisances. When bedtime rolls around, the soothing call of carbs can be especially haunting. But the type of carbs we crave causes a spike in blood sugar, making it harder to relax and sleep. Protein makes you feel full, just like carbs. But, unlike carbs, there is no spike in blood sugar. A diet rich in protein has the result of retraining your body, and your brain, to quit relying on carbs to feel full.
Schedule a Snack
Just like dieting, snacking healthier requires planning. Rather than wait for the snack attack to hit just before bedtime, plan to nibble on something light and healthy about an hour before getting ready for bed. Don't let a craving lead you to bad snack decisions. If you have it ready and scheduled, you're in control.
Snack Portion Control
And, speaking of control, quit digging in that big bag of chips or cookies. If you must have a snack like this before bed, take a measured amount out to serve yourself. You'll be surprised how eating mindlessly out of a bag can add up to super-sized portions. Decide how many chips, cookies, or whatever you want to eat and put just that portion on your snack plate.
Are you hungry or are you bored? Boredom can create a feeling like hunger. Boredom can also have you blazing a trail to the refrigerator simply out of habit. When it comes time to relax before bed, find an activity to keep your attention away from the snacks. Play games, pet the dog, brush the cat, take a walk, give yourself a manicure... anything that takes you away from the old snacking routine.
New Bed Time
If you find yourself sitting up late at night in front of the television with a bowl of ice cream, stop. Turn off the lights and go to bed. Many people who snack late at night do so because they get bored. As suggested above, keeping busy can help keep your mind, and your hands, off the snacks. However, just getting out of your chair and going to bed can solve the desire to snack, too. Simply put, if you usually go to bed at 11 o'clock, and routinely get a snack attack at 10 o'clock, move your bedtime up to 10 o'clock. It's worth a try to avoid the munchies and save your healthy diet.
This may sound silly, but it works. Brushing your teeth before your usual snack attack time actually interrupts your taste buds from craving food. Just think about eating a bowl of ice cream after you brush your teeth. Not very appetizing, is it? Brushing your teeth earlier in the evening also works to push bedtime up, another good way to avoid those cravings.
Much of our late night snacking originates from our routines, which can lead to bad eating habits. Turn those bad habits into good habits to eliminate mindless midnight snacking and eat healthier.