Late night eating is one of the biggest sabotages of a healthy, weight loss diet.
Recently I started to understand what many of my clients were going through.
For the past 5 years I have worked in a gym and my days started very early in the morning. (Getting up at 4:45-5am!) I would get up early, and have a small early breakfast, have another meal mid morning, and be ready for lunch by noon. It was easy for me to get 1,000-1,200 calories in before dinner and so I ate a small dinner and went to bed.
Since giving birth to my baby girl, I still see that 5 o’ clock hour, but it’s usually to feed her, then we go back to bed for another hour. Once we get everything going in the morning it’s sometimes 8 or 9 before I eat breakfast. I have a good breakfast of a protein shake or omelet with salsa depending on how the morning is going. The later start doesn’t always allow me time for a mid morning snack and before I know it, it’s lunchtime. Lunch is usually a salad with leftover chicken or fish from the night before. Lunch is sometimes later than it used to be and I use nap time to get ‘everything done’ that I can, so sometimes I miss the mid afternoon snack as well. That leaves me starving at dinner time and still feeling unsatisfied when it is over. Do you ever feel this way? I hear this often as a fitness trainer and there is a way to beat those late night hunger pangs.
First you need to figure out if it is true hunger or if it is a craving. Is your stomach hungry or are you wanting to munch while watching television? If you are still hungry after a large portion of veggies and lean meat for dinner than you probably did not have enough calories throughout the day. This is where planning your food is crucial. Pick 3 or 4 different snacks that you can rotate through during the week for a mid morning and mid afternoon snack. (Maybe and apple and peanut butter, or Greek yogurt with berries, or a protein shake). Also keep a protein bar with you in case of emergencies. (Think Thin, Luna protein and balance bars are some of my favorites).
Sometimes my clients think I am crazy when I tell them they need to eat at least 1,000 calories before dinner, but it really makes a difference in night eating! If you are still hungry while eating enough calories then you may not be eating enough of the right calories. This is where hormones come into play and can effect are hunger and cravings. If you are eating enough calories in your day, you may need to swap some things around to consume more protein and fiber as these can make you feel more satiated. Try more fruits and veggies in your day, as these are an awesome source of fiber. If you are eating at night out of boredom, then you need to change something in your routine. Don’t let yourself eat unless you are at the dinner table, or make some tea and sip on that at night. If I still want something after dinner I usually will make some egg whites, or have a low carb Isagenix protein shake, or have some berries with cinnamon on top of it.
Don’t think your late night hunger is because you have no will power! Start paying attention to your hunger and cravings throughout the day as well as making sure you are getting enough calories, protein and fiber, and then see how night eating goes. You should not have the desire to eat everything sugary and salty that you have in your entire house anymore. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!