Ever crave a little scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream before bed? How about just one small handful of potato chips? Even healthier options like chia pudding can be alluring late at night. We have all succumbed to the late night snack at least once before. So what? No big deal. Unfortunately, when you do it on a regular basis, it can be a recipe for imbalanced health.
Over the long term, late night snacking may cause weight gain, blood sugar issues, high cholesterol and hormonal imbalance. Your metabolism naturally slows down at night in preparation for sleep, so eating food at that time not only surpasses the needs of your metabolic system, it directs the body’s energy towards digestion rather than nightly cleansing and upkeep.
If our bodies don’t naturally crave food late at night, have you ever wondered what causes our late night cravings? Often, late night snacking is a direct result of emotional distress, stress or discomfort. Food and emotional comfort are intrinsically linked for many of us, which makes the cycle of unnecessary emotional eating especially tough to cut. But, once you succeed, you’ll feel better both emotionally and physically. Here are a few tips to help you control your late night snacking habit:
Create a snack toll. If you’re going to have a snack after 9 pm, set up a toll system for yourself. A physical activity toll may be most effective for late nights. Charge yourself 100 sit-ups or 30 push-ups if you want a snack post 9 o’clock. Odds are, you’re not going to want to drop down and workout late at night, meaning you will likely end up avoiding mindless snacking and seek a more balanced way of dealing with your emotions.
Brush your teeth at 9. No one likes the taste of toothpaste and food. Also, most of us tend to not want to brush our teeth twice in one night—such a chore! By brushing your teeth at a set time every night, you are encouraging yourself to ritualistically prepare for sleep rather than snacks. Just be aware that you shouldn’t brush your teeth straight after you eat, as this can weaken your enamel. Be sure to finish eating at least an hour before you brush your teeth.
Journal it. Grab a notepad and sit down to ask yourself, “Why do I want to eat?” Write down all of your thoughts and look at them. Odds are, loneliness, boredom, sadness and negative self-talk will dominate the list. There are even better odds that hunger isn’t on there at all. The goal of journaling is getting your thoughts out of your swarmed mind and onto paper. It’s much easier to make sense of them when they are physically staring back at you. So, even if you think you know the reason, try writing it down. You may be surprised at what you discover.
Do something productive. If you’re bored, eating isn’t the solution. Many of us experience our greatest bursts of creativity late at night. Try writing, reading, drawing, building, planning or even cleaning. You’ll feel super positive and accomplished, which is way better than dealing with the incessant guilt late night snacking often encourages.
Strip down. That’s right, if appropriate, walk around in the nude during late, sleepless nights. It is liberating, but it’s also less comforting than your most snuggly onesie. Many people find snacking naked less appealing, especially if it is emotional snacking. Strip down and accept yourself and your body. Don’t try to hide it under pajamas and snacks. Be empowered.
Use your nose. Lighting a beeswax candle or using an essential oil diffuser can get you out of the snacking mindset while also encouraging relaxation and sleep. Grapefruit, peppermint, bergamot and frankincense oils are great for curbing appetite and soothing stress. Meanwhile lavender, cedarwood and chamomile can improve and encourage sleep.
Drink some water. If you’re feeling snacky when the clock strikes 12, you may just be thirsty. Lemon water can be especially refreshing as well as health-promoting. Otherwise, an herbal tea that you love is often all you need to satiate your snacking quota. Keep a variety of teas on hand if you have a late night snacking habit that you’re working to control. Again, peppermint is an excellent choice.
While it’s not the end of the world if you have a self-medicating late night snack, you don’t want it to become a habit. Even if your stomach is a little grumbly, remember, the sky won’t crash around you simply because you didn’t have a bowl of buttered popcorn at 1 am. Being a little hungry may be slightly uncomfortable, but it isn’t the worst thing.
Of course, health is an endless ebb and flow of moderation. When you do enjoy the rare midnight snack, be sure to close the fridge door, set your snack on a plate and actually enjoy it. If you’re going to snack, you might as well be mindful about it. Guilt only makes everything worse. Dim the lights, light a candle and treat yourself!
Source: care2.com By Jordan Cormier