You just finished dinner, maybe even had a little something sweet for dessert, and by all means definitely not hungry. But the urge to snack and grab whatever you can from the pantry hits you and what turns into a little nibble has you now ingesting an enormous calorie load and enough carbohydrates and fats to blow your whole day.
I think we can agree that most mindless snacking comes later in the day, when we are sitting in front of the TV, relaxed after a long day, and usually not planned.
Here are a few tips to avoid caving into the crave and limit late night binging.
Save some food: Shave a small amount of food off of each meal reducing the amount of calories you’ll be eating during the day. Skip the cheese, mayo or bacon. If you save some food and calories for later, you’ll still be able to hit your daily allotted calories without going over. Budgeting your food choices is extremely important in the weight loss journey. It doesn’t matter what time you eat, but rather the total overall calories for the day. So if you like to eat later in the day, go lighter earlier on.
Try to incorporate more fiber during the day: Eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains means that you’ll be incorporating fiber into your diet which will keep you fuller longer. They are also more likely less calorie dense foods which means you get a lot more food for less calories, feeling fuller and more satisfied.
Plan ahead: I personally love dessert every night and regardless of how full I am need something sweet after dinner. Because I track my food, I log my dessert and plug it into my meal diary first thing in the morning and work around it. That way I know I’m not going over my calorie budget and still able to eat my sweet treat.
Log your food: Take the planning one step further and plan all of your meals for the day. This will ensure that you are not overeating and are able to get a late night snack in, regardless of what it is. This is the key to flexible dieting and why it makes it so successful for people to lose weight counting macros. It’s not a “diet” but rather a lifestyle. No one wants to be told they must eat certain foods or that particular foods are off limits. There is only so much time that one can sustain that lifestyle and then binge and eat everything in sight. Make your diet work for you rather than being a slave to your diet.
Go for a walk: If the weather permits leave the house before you dive into the pantry. Sometimes all it takes is 15 minutes for you to change your mind or get over the boredom and cravings. Not only does it take you away from the source, but you’ll be burning some calories by moving instead of sitting on the couch.
Brush your teeth and get into bed: You are much less likely to eat something right after you brush your teeth. Take it one step further and get into bed. It will automatically signal your brain to tell you the day is over, enough is enough and tomorrow is a new day. Furthermore, most people don’t like to take food up to their bedroom. Remove yourself from seeing the kitchen entirely.
Make a cup of decaf coffee or sweet tea: Most of the time we simply want something in our mouth, just for taste and because of boredom. I love making a cup of coffee and adding a teaspoon of protein powder to it. It tastes just like a latte, is delicious, and somehow extremely satisfying. By the time I’m finished drinking the coffee, the craving has been kicked and gone for virtually no calories and a small shot
Stop giving into the habit: This is a hard one but get your mind over the matter. You’re most likely not hungry. You’re being rather impulsive. You’re bored. Ask yourself if the food will make you happy or if you’ll feel like garbage with guilt afterwards. Most of the time you’ll feel like crap after eating crap, so try to be in control and see how wonderful you feel afterwards.
As I have mentioned above, there are plenty of things to try before you surrender to the snacks. Try these tips first. If you simply must eat try to incorporate protein into the meal. I know it may not be the most satisfying but a Greek yogurt with some fresh fruit will satisfy you a lot more than greasy fattening chips, and make you feel both better mentally and physically the following day.
If all else fails don’t beat yourself too much over it. Move on and try to be a bit more compliant the moving forward. One binge here and there will not deter long term overall progress, but if it becomes a nightly habit it can certainly sabotage your weight loss efforts.
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