For some it’s a handful of chips, for others it’s a few cookies, ice cream, or popcorn. At the very worst, it can be the caloric equivalent the of an entire dinner or more: late night snacking.
No matter how committed you are to your meal plan during the daytime hours, a late night snacking habit can result in unwanted weight gain due to a hiked-up calorie count.
Since most of us are winding down from a long day, evening is often the most vulnerable time that we want to reward or entertain ourselves with mindless snacking.
Understandably, giving up late night snacking is not as simple as pledging to stay away from the pantry. Increase your willpower and create healthier eating habits when you follow Dr. Kim’s suggested “5 Ds”.
Set a timer! So that you don’t make any rash decisions, try and wait 15-20 minutes before giving into temptations. Typical food cravings will only last for this amount of time, so give your body the chance to let the urge pass naturally.
Get in a new mindset. You can’t spontaneously eat if you’re busy doing something else. If you’re feeling hungry late in the night, first try to read a book, take a bath, listen to music, draw a picture, answer emails, or whatever else is necessary to divert your attention. You may find that after some distraction, you aren’t even hungry anymore.
Step away from the kitchen! Sometimes, it’s the convenience of food that makes us want it so bad. Instead of mentally torturing yourself by staring at the food you’re trying not to eat, get up and go somewhere. Whether you go on a drive around the neighborhood or even walk yourself to another room, increasing your distance from your desires is a surefire way to help get it off of your mind.
Is giving in worth it? Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of succumbing to your late-night cravings and make a decision on how you would like to respond to your temptations. How will your goals be affected?
Make your final verdict. If all of the above skills have been utilized thoroughly and you still feel inclined to indulge, decide how much you will allow yourself to eat, where you will eat it, and how. Be mindful about how quickly you are eating, how you are portioning, and even which hand you will feed yourself with. This way, you are ensuring mindfulness and hopefully reducing the risk of over-indulging or binging.
Remember, practice makes perfect! Your tolerance for cravings will continue to strengthen over time if you continue to practice these valuable skills. By being strategic about what you’re doing, not only will you be in better control of your weight, but you are establishing a lifetime habit of healthy eating.