The #1 obstacle for many people’s weight loss aspirations is the inability to control their post-dinner appetite.
But this isn’t a sign of weakness, or a lack of willpower. Factors that lead to impulse control or emotional eating could be at work. Regardless, you can finally conquer late-night binge eating with a few tricks – here are three that are tried and proven:
Eat a big(ger) breakfast.
Late-night eating problems actually start much earlier in the day – at breakfast time.
Most weight-losers believe they need to start the day off ‘being good’, which they translate to consuming low calories or carbs for the first meal of the day. Skimpy, 100-200 calorie breakfasts are the rage, but they shouldn’t be – you’ll be starving come lunchtime, leading to double-down on that ‘good’ salad with grilled chicken.
Then when dinner rolls around, those health-conscious choices start to backfire. Your body is done being undernourished all day, and now wants to indulge. With only a few meager calories to get through the day, your body will respond with strong cravings, cravings that will persist long after your (large) dinner is consumed.
You’ll recognize the feeling – some call it ‘needing something sweet’, despite sporting a belly full of food. It pulls you back to the kitchen two, three, four more times after dinner. Once you’re seriously full, and realize the mistake you’ve made, you vow to ‘be good’ the next day, repeating the vicious cycle once more.
If that pattern is all too familiar, the solution is an easy one: fill up on food during the day.
It all starts with the most important meal of the day (it’s called that for a reason, you know). Try to intake at least 300 calories with foods that are a good source of satiating fiber, healthy fats, protein, or all three.
Follow that up with a balanced lunch, which may include an ample portion of veggies, a small portion of high-fiber carbs, and your protein of choice.
Even after a few days of bigger breakfasts, you’ll notice those late-night cravings being curbed.
Utilize a minty mouth.
Some after-dinner grazing routines have become so habitual, that it has nothing to do with hunger.
The brain is on automatic at that point, sending you to the fridge every commercial break, just because.
To break free of this subconscious habit, people have found success by ‘mintifying’ their mouths, a physiological cue that eating time is over for the day.
Some opt for minty, sugarless gum, while others resort to extreme measures – brushing their teeth, with a thorough rinsing of Listerine for good measure. Trust us, you won’t crave many sweets after your mouth is highly antiseptic.
A minty mouth breaks up the auto-impulse to snack with a stern message: Your mouth is closed for business this evening.
Damage control with low-calorie snacks.
Sometimes you’re up extra-late, and you naturally become hungry again after dinner. You feel as if you don’t get something in you soon, you won’t be able to sleep.
But, you know midnight snacks are forbidden – what’s a night owl supposed to do?
In these rare instances, keep uber low-calorie options in your cupboard. Opt for snacks like roasted seaweed sheets, pickles, miso soup packets, unsweetened almond milk, egg whites, Crio Bru brewed cocoa drink or a 15- to 40-calorie ice pop. These foods are adequate in filling your stomach just enough to get you to sleep, without the 50+ calorie price tag.
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