How is it that a few hours in the evening can ruin an otherwise healthy day? You make good choices from a wholesome breakfast through to your dinner and then 8PM rolls around and you’re reaching for the worst foods in your kitchen, glazing over and finishing the entire thing.
You’re not alone. Late night eating is a common habit. Whether it’s out of boredom, for comfort or simply as a reward for surviving the day, we so often let go of our otherwise healthy habits in the late hours of the evening.
Luckily, there are some useful tips for curbing your late night appetite. Read on to wise-up and kick the habit!
Brush your teeth
Enjoy the clean mouth feeling and you won’t want to eat something to ruin it. If you brush your teeth right after dinner instead of before bed, you may be less likely to eat late at night.
Toothpaste can alter the flavor of your food and drink. You might not have the same flavor cravings after your brush with minty floss. Try chewing a spearmint gum. The flavor is intense and lasting and will distract your taste buds.
Eat a satisfying dinner
This one might sound obvious, but you would be surprised how many of us skip out on key ingredients for a balanced meal. It’s important to include protein, carbohydrates and fiber in your dinner to keep you satisfied and full for an extended period. Fiver and protein is a great combo at dinnertime because they work to steady your blood sugar, strengthening your willpower to fight off the late night sweets.
A well-balanced, nutrient-rich dinner is salmon or chicken breast, brown rice and grilled asparagus with a small amount of parmesan cheese as a garnish. Sweet potatoes are also a great complement to your protein choice, satisfying that sweet tooth even before it hits.
Switch up your routine
Find yourself planted in front of he TV watching Netflix most nights? We don’t blame you! But switching up your evening routine can help to keep you from mindless snacking on the couch.
Try calling a friend and catching up over Skype, or go for a walk and enjoy the tranquility of your otherwise bustling neighborhood. Read a book in bed or get a head-start on your chores to keep your body moving. Pick up a new hobby like sewing or sketching – anything to keep you hands and your mind engaged.
Late night eating can have emotional consequences and we often feel guilty afterward. Engaging in a fun activity will satisfy the same emotional needs you have been meeting with food.
Get more sleep
Poor sleep habits can cause you to skip meals like breakfast, which you will most likely compensate for later in the day. When fatigued, it’s common to crave snacks that include sugar and salt for an energy lift. These foods offer a temporary spike in energy and then a crash that leads to a vicious cycle of lethargy and over-eating.
Finding a sleep routine with the same bedtime and wake up every night is a great way to mitigate food cravings associated with fatigue. Going to bed earlier with naturally prevent you from wandering in to the kitchen at midnight looking for a distraction.
Close up the kitchen
Once dinner is finished, make an extra effort to close up the kitchen to prepare for the following day. Put away leftovers by sealing them in Tupperware or with cellophane and putting them in the fridge. Put the dishes away and run the dishwasher (if it’s full). Wipe down the counters and turn off the lights. Shut down the room entirely so it’s clean and not asking to be disturbed.
Drink herbal tea
Herbal tea is mostly caffeine-free so it won’t disturb your sleep. Chamomile or mint teas are two of the best varieties to soothe your digestion, and calm your body and your mind. Even drinking hot water with lemon is a great way to aid digestion and soothe your system.
Boil hot water and let the tea steep for ten minutes. Pour it into your favorite mug and get cozy on the couch with your partner or your cat. Sip slowly to prolong the experience.
Start thinking about your breakfast the night before. Plan ahead by building your overnight oatmeal or slicing your fruits. Prepare your smoothie ingredients in advance. If you’re already fixated on food, preparing your next meal and looking forward to it will help to remind you of your healthy routine. And go ahead and sneak a few blueberries from your smoothie prep – they won’t bite!
Purge your cupboards
You know what they say, out of sight, out of mind! If you have unhealthy snacks stored in your pantry and chocolate ice cream stashed in your freezer and it’s practically calling your name from across the room by 9PM, you might just want to get rid of it completely so that it’s not even an option.
Purge your kitchen of any processed, unhealthy snacks and replace them with healthy ones. Stock up on fresh fruit like apples and berries, purchase one-serving yoghurts with probiotic ingredients, or splurge on organic popcorn of the sea salt variety for that extra crunch. One bowl of fresh popcorn is a mere 100 calories and it’s packed full of fiber. If you have to munch on something, make sure it’s good for you.
If you’re in the habit of having a dessert after dinner, try delaying it for one hour after the main course so you are mindfully eating what you have prepared as opposed to mindlessly snacking on any old thing. Desserts don’t have to be loaded with fat and sugar and there are plenty of healthy options to prepare in advance.
Try making popsicles out of fresh fruit and yoghurt or munching on fresh berries with a dollop of whipped cream. Bake pears and drizzle honey and cinnamon on top. Pop popcorn and sweeten with honey. There are plenty of dessert options that won’t jeopardize your healthy eating habits and that will satisfy you.
Give yourself a manicure
Not only is this activity peaceful, relaxing and something you can do while watching Netflix, it also keeps your hands busy! Give yourself the gift of a manicure with your favorite polish and hand lotion. You won’t be rifling through your cupboards for chips while your nails dry and you certainly won’t want to dig into a greasy bag in case they chip.