Do you eat healthy for breakfast and lunch and proudly log everything in your journal or “Lose it” app? Then suddenly at the end of the day, you find yourself obsessed with food and not an ounce of willpower. What starts with, “I’ll just have one bite of ice cream” turns into a ravenous binge of the whole tub of ice cream and a pizza.
To combat the problem of overeating and late night snacking, it’s important to examine the reason for your hunger. Perhaps it’s from boredom, stress, hormonal imbalance, or not eating enough calories during the day.
Quite often the distractions of work and family during the day help us to stay on track with our food intake. Some people may find they even forget to eat due to being immersed with work or family obligations. This can become a destructive cycle that leads to unhealthy eating patterns and can sabotage weight loss efforts. You will most likely find yourself starving when you come home and self-control goes out the window. Take some time to determine what category you fall into by determining if it’s stress related or actual hunger from not eating all day.
Follow these five steps to help prevent those late night binges:
1.Plan a healthy breakfast and lunch Make your meals a priority to prevent blood sugar fluctuations. Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D., author of The Calendar Diet states, “We all know that if you don’t eat, you probably won’t be able to control yourself later on. The sneaky thing about this that you may not realize is how easily it can become a cycle. Picture this: You don’t eat all day long. By the end of the day, your body’s demanding immediate calories rather than the ones you stored from last night. You’ll give in and eat a ton, but the next morning you wake up and aren’t hungry. Pretty quickly, this effect can end up pushing your entire eating schedule back. “I see a lot of people who become used to not eating until noon or 1 p.m., then they eat tremendous amounts at night,” says Ansel. Make a point to have healthy snacks in your backpack or purse for emergencies where you don’t have time for meals. Have a plan on hand for breakfast and lunches that can be prepared quickly during the week.
2.Pre-plan your evening meals and snacks -People who are successful, make a habit of pre-planning. Plan and prep meals on the weekend using my Seven Easy Food Prep Ideas. We’ve all had stressful days at work or home and the last thing you want to think about is what to cook for dinner. This quite often leads to poor food choices and giving in to something easy, like pizza, or burgers and fries.
3.Get into a routine -Find an evening routine that works best for you and your family. Try to plan some downtime after getting home and before you prepare meals to reduce stress and encourage family time. Get the kids and spouse involved in helping to set the table and prepare meals. Make your evening meal a special time to talk about the day and enjoy time together.
4.Meditation, stretch, yoga – Limit time in front of the TV during the evenings. Many people associate watching TV and movies with late night snacking. Consider taking an evening walk, a workout at the gym, or try a yoga class on youtube: Yoga For Beginners Morning with Rodney Yee | Yoga | Gaiam Take a look at meditation as a great way to relieve stress and help you relax before bedtime. It can be as simple as just sitting quietly and breathing or digging a little deeper with: Meditation 101: Techniques, Benefits & Beginner’s info
5.Balance your meals with the proper nutrients– Back to the Basics [Nutrition 101] recommends The Three-Three Rule. Eat a combination of the three macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates orPFC!) every three hours (four hours MAX!) to keep your blood sugar levels balanced. Balanced blood sugars contribute to consistent energy levels, focus, stable moods and no cravings. They are essential for weight loss and maintenance because glucagon (your fat BURNING hormone) cannot get to work if insulin (your fat STORING hormone) is at work. Insulin helps to regulate your blood sugar levels, so if you’re not doing this by eating balanced meals and snacks, it makes sense as to why you’re going to have a lot of difficulty shedding those extra pounds (not to mention, increasing your risk for disease, like type 2 diabetes). Eat protein, fat and carbs every three hours!