You start the day with the right intentions. You pack your healthy lunch, your healthy snacks, you look at menus before going in to dine to pick the best healthy options, and you get ready to tackle the day with grace and ease. You come home happy and complete and even prepare an after-dinner snack of carrots and celery and hummus.
Darkness falls across the house and suddenly a different side of you kicks in. There is a strong need to go into the fridge for something sweet – or maybe it’s something salty. You can’t quite read the signals. One handful of popcorn turns into the whole bag. One piece of dark chocolate turns into the whole bar. What is happening here?
The complaint I hear most from clients is that when trying to follow a specific eating protocol the evening is the time of day most likely to derail them. This pattern of eating is often not driven by physiological hunger, rather it has its basis in unhealthy eating patterns or ingrained habits. It’s important to recognize late-night binge cravings for what they are and have a plan to support yourself going forward when this pattern hits.
Scenario: “Work was crazy today and life has been so hectic. I deserve a treat.”
Maybe this is entirely true and you had a really overwhelming day at the office or at home with the kids. However, it’s important to not view food as an opportunity to de-stress, as it is actually meant to be an opportunity to nourish and support your beautiful body.
What you can do instead:
- Connect with a friend. Give someone a call or face-time and spend a good ten to fifteen minutes chatting about your day. Pick someone you trust and who is capable and willing to support you during your time of need. Ask them ahead of time if they’d be willing to support you in this way.
- Keep a list of stress-busters on the fridge you can turn to that are not food related. Anything from coloring, meditating, reading or taking a bath. Try to consider a wide range of activities with varying times as you want something you can do for one minute to destress or an activity you can commit an hour to doing as well.
Scenario: “I’ve been so good all day but when evening rolls around, I’m starving and I can’t control myself.”
This pattern of thinking can be destructive. Food isn’t a reward and nor should it be considered a “punishment” when you eat something that is off the plan. The focus needs to be on balance and integrating food in a moderate and mindful way.
What you can do instead:
- Ensure that you are actually eating enough during the day. Keeping a detailed food journal or diary for a week will give you a good sense of your eating patterns throughout the day. Maybe you physically need more calories!
- Eat breakfast. Breakfast can set your day up for success. Make sure to include 25-35 grams of protein with that morning meal. If you’re not a morning person, start small. Make a protein shake in the evening so it’s ready to grab and go in the morning or consider a piece of fruit with nut butter.
- Work in a small “splurge” in the day so that you don’t feel like you’re living in a restrictive state. Try 1 ounce of dark chocolate or find a snack that will make you feel like you’re getting that bit of fun in. There are so many delicious recipes to try out for both sweet and salty options. Food doesn’t have to be boring!
- Schedule more regular snacks throughout the day. Every body is biochemically unique and you will need to find the flow that works right for you. Try adding a snack between meals and see if that helps with eating patterns in the evening.
Late-night hunger cravings are a real issue for most of us. Through creating a comprehensive plan with how we are going to tackle these things when the moment arrives before it actually happens we arm ourselves with ideas to help mitigate the effects of these intense cravings.
What is your favourite craving-busting strategy?
Disordered eating is a very real issue. If you feel like your late night eating stems from something more serious and you feel like things are spiralling out of control, please seek professional assistance from a licenced practitioner in your area.
As your Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant at Naturmend, I am committed to creating healthy communities. I believe in honouring the unique biochemical individuality of each person who walks through my door and in the amazing benefits of a whole food diet. A healthy body and balanced mind are the cornerstones of a happy existence.