I think most of us with serious weight problems have trouble with late night snacking. I certainly do, although it's probably not the single biggest reason why I became morbidly obese. (Ice cream for breakfast might be.) Still, we all struggle with nighttime eating, it seems.
This is an excerpt of an article that I stole from Melting Mama's blog. It has some good tips that I wanted to include. Some of them are reminders of things we used to do...I know there are things on this list that I remember working on when I was getting ready to have surgery, and I've sort of forgotten about them. So this is a nice reminder on how to get back on track. Enjoy.
Why We Eat at Night
There are many reasons why so many of our total calories tend to be eaten during and after dinner, including physiological, emotional, cultural, and possibly evolutionary influences. They include: It's part of our culture to eat a large dinner. It's also customary in many homes to enjoy a large dessert after dinner. Some people, especially women, skip meals or undereat during the day. It can take quite a lot of food to satisfy the body's hunger after a day of undereating. Overeating at dinner or late at night may help to calm people from stresses that build during the day. Studies show that meals eaten with others are, on average, 44% larger than meals eaten alone. Since dinner tends to be the meal that is more often shared, this may partially explain why it's also most likely to be the largest meal. From an evolutionary perspective, nighttime used to represent the longest time period without food and activity. In modern times; however, artificial light allows people to remain awake and continue to eat, perhaps, contributing to obesity. Tips for Overcoming Nighttime Noshing But even with all this working against us, experts say, it is possible to avoid nighttime overeating. If you're a nighttime nosher, here are some tips to help you kick the habit:
1. Get in the habit of enjoying a hot cup of decaffeinated tea at night. Tea comes in so many great flavors that you'll never be bored. In the warmer months, have a glass of iced tea instead.
2. Many people snack at night because they're bored. Keep your evenings interesting, and you'll find it easier to refrain from mindless snacking. Take a night class, plan an evening exercise session, find a new and interesting book or hobby, etc.
3. If you've gotten into the habit of eating in front of the television, vow to eat only in the kitchen and only drink no-calorie beverages while watching TV. Or limit your TV eating to fruits and vegetables. Occupy your hands in other ways -- ride a stationary bike, do exercises with an exercise ball, take up knitting, pay bills, or write notes to friends.
4. Because evening meals and snacks tend to be the highest in fat, it's especially important to make healthy food choices at this time. Go for foods that are rich in nutrients, high in fiber, and balanced with some lean protein and a little bit of "better" fat (like olive or canola oil, avocado, or nuts).
5. Though you don't want to eat too many calories at dinner, for some people, a small dinner could lead to a late-night snacking tailspin. Eat a balanced, high-fiber dinner. If you get hungry later, enjoy a smart and satisfying evening snack like low-fat yogurt with a sprinkle of whole-grain cereal, fruit with a few slices of cheese, or whole-grain cereal with milk.
6. Have a balanced, higher-fiber lunch and afternoon snack to help avoid overeating at dinner.
7. Don't skip breakfast. "When people skip breakfast, they end up eating more calories by the end of the day, and we know that they end up compensating for this skipped meal with high-sugar, high-fat foods," explains Bowman.
8. People who eat small, frequent meals tend to eat fewer total calories and fat grams than those who eat larger meals less often. Try eating small, frequent meals to see if it improves the way you eat and feel.
9. If you're in the habit of finishing your day with dessert, try having a mini-portion. The first few bites of a food always taste the best, anyway. Experts say a petite portion is more likely to satisfy if you choose a dessert you truly enjoy, take your time and savor every bite, and accompany your treat with a cup of hot coffee or tea.
SOURCES: The Journal of Nutrition, January 2004. Physiology & Behavior, 1987, vol 40. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, December 1994. Body Mass Index New Research, 2005. Shanthy Bowman, PhD, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service. John M. de Castro, PhD, chairman, department of psychology, University of Texas, El Paso. Edward Saltzman, MD, energy metabolism scientist, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston.