Friday, July 10, 2009

Late Night Eating

Late night eating is a topic I don't know much about, but it seems to be a big problem, and I can understand why. I'm not a night owl. I'm usually asleep by 9:30 and up by 5:30. I don't eat at night because I'm sleeping. If I get hungry I go to bed, often before my 6 yr old daughter. Pathetic I know but she likes to stay up late and I'm tired of fighting with her. On the rare occasion that I am awake at 10:30 or 11 I'm definitely hungry. It's been hours since I've eaten and my stomach is empty. Many of you are up this late all the time. What a challenge!

So the first question is why are you awake? Do you like being up at that time? Is it your time alone, your time with your spouse, your time to relax, your time to work? If you just can't sleep, I would suggest tackling that problem. If you like being up at that time, I guess I would suggest a few things. Try and pick your solution based on why you think you're snacking at night - actual hunger, sabotoge, bad habit, cravings...

  • Actual hunger, habit: Save some calories or points for a planned late night snack. Eat a particular amount at a pre-determined time, so for example, 150 calories (3 pts) at 10pm. Figure out snacks that fit into that structure. I can offer specific ideas for anyone who needs them. Jennifer and I worked out something similar into her plan. She loves having a skinny cow ice cream treat at 8 pm-ish. So she finishes dinner with 2 points to spare and enjoys her skinny cow guilt free. at the start she would eat 2, mainly because she was still in the pregnancy, I can eat anything I want mindset, but she evolved out of that pretty quickly. Jen, you can correct me if you don't agree with that recitation.
  • Cravings: Beyond the pre-planned snack, stay as far away from the kitchen as you can. This is obviously easier in a bigger home. For some reason I'm totally tempted when I'm in the kitchen doing evening clean up, but as soon as I get upstairs the cravings go away.
  • Actual hunger: Make sure you're eating enough during the day. Kind of related to point 1, but this is where it helps to have pre-determined eating times and amounts during the day. Make sure you're eating enough protein (74 grams) and that you're not actually hungry because you didn't eat enough earlier. Hunger and cravings can get mixed up both ways. If you're hungry in a situation where you naturally have cravings anyway, it will just be that much harder to fend off.
  • Self-sabotoge: If you're not really hungry but just in a self-sabotoge mode, try and recognize the feeling as it comes over you and come up with an alternative behavior that is positive. I have had to do this in the afternoon grumpy kids - I have to make dinner - chaos period of 5-6pm. The witching hour never seems to end in my house even though the kids are old. Alternative behaviors could include trying to sleep, some kind of meditation/yoga/reading, blogging, take dog outside for 15 min, even in winter - just bundle up.
  • Habit, cravings: Have calorie free snacks on hand for when you just feel you absolutely have to snack or if you want to extend your pre-determined snack amount. Baby carrots, sugar snap peas, fat-free popcorn, grape tomatoes.
  • Habit: Pick 2 nights a week you're allowed to have a bigger snack...use floater calories for that...such as Friday and Tuesday, or something like that.
  • Actual hunger: Eat dinner later.

1 comment:

  1. Great suggestions, Jenna! The only thing I would add is the teeth brushing as a tactic for when you're not really hungry. The other thing... drink a big glass of water and then wait 20 minutes. If you're still hungry, then consider a low-point snack.