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April 26, 2011

10 Things To Do Instead of Nighttime Eating

Metabolic Effect calls it “continuous meal”–you know, when you get home from work and pretty much eat constantly from 6pm until bedtime. What’s the deal with that? So many of us do it! Out of habit? Out of hunger? Out of cravings? Out of wanting-to-eat-something-while-watching-American-Idol?  Metabolic Effect uses several tactics to combat continuous meal and many of them begin earlier in the day and even the day before.  In this post, I would like to give you my top 10 things to do INSTEAD of continuous meal, ultimately breaking this habit (usually we are not all that hungry, right? It’s more that we are mindlessly eating or just want the taste of sweet or salty, right?)

1] First of all, have dinner ingredients prepped and ready to roll. Meaning, if you have to take 30-60 minutes to make a gourmet meal from scratch, you are most likely going to be munching on little stuff throughout the prep process, so much so that by the time dinner is actually ready, you are stuffed.  I know that some recipe books tout “30 minute quickie meal prep”–um, 30 minutes is WAY too long, I can do a lot of damage in 30 minutes of waiting.  How about 5 minutes? :) Keep things quicker and simpler than you think you will need. Getting home from work famished will only allow for 5-10 minutes of waiting!  For me, I usually throw together a quickie salad with all the ingredients already cut up and ready to go.   Here is my favorite, you may recognize it :)

  • Take out 1 cup lean ground turkey (I already sauteed up 1-2 lbs on Sunday, mixed with chopped onions (that I bought already chopped))–stick in the microwave for 1 minute to warm-up
  • In the meantime, take out 3-4 cups of spinach or mixed greens and use the OXO salad chopper to chop it up
  • Add 1/2 cup of chopped bell peppers (that I purchased already chopped up OR chopped up on Sunday and stored in the fridge)
  • Add the warmed-up ground turkey
  • Throw on 1/4 cup chunky hot salsa as “dressing” and mix it all together, sprinkle on optional almond cheese (already shredded and ziplocked on Sunday

2] After dinner, immediately begin boiling water and make tea, my favorite is Yogi Bedtime Tea–best thing about having something hot to drink is that it keeps your mouth occupied for a while!

3] Make an ME cocoa drink. Craving sweet? Try this lil’ trick that will offer the taste of chocolate without the consequences, plus can have a positive effect on brain chemistry: Mix 1-2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (baking cocoa) with hot water, add stevia drops to sweeten–if you have difficulty sleeping anyway, this might not be your best option because cocoa contains caffeine so monitor your sleep and if you need to, do Yogi Tea instead.

4] Go for a walk. Jade and I do this often. We will usually finish up with work/workouts around 6:30-7pm and head out for an evening walk (in the Spring/Summer/Fall).  It is a leisurely stroll, not a power walk, that allows us to wind-down the day, catch up with each other and also keeps us away from the kitchen for an hour.  Getting home and eating dinner at 8pm (last meal of the day) helps cut down on the amount of possible eating hours.

5] Take a hot shower/bath and just get in bed. Every night when I get in bed, I always ask myself, “why didn’t I get in here sooner?” it’s the best feeling! But for some reason we stay up, watching TV, surfing the net, doing chores, eating…when we could be getting in bed earlier and reading.  Taking a hot bath or shower calms the body and also takes some time away from eating time. (Seeing the theme here?)

6] Have sex. Need I say more? :)

7) Chew gum. This is a favorite of mine because it still makes me feel like I am tasting something sweet.  I know there are a bunch of chemicals in gum and it’s probably not the best method long-term, but honestly this tactic works.  You can choose Spry gum that is all-natural and sweetened with xylitol, or my personal not-so-natural favorite Extra’s Mint Chocolate Chip :) Right after dinner, I pop in a piece and it usually lasts me an hour.  Admittedly not the most natural option, but I would argue it is better than the alternative of indulging in ice cream, cookies, chips, etc. Plus, it works!

8] Drink a casein protein shake. If you ate dinner earlier and it is an hour or two later and you are hungry, try mixing 1 scoop of casein protein powder in water (blend with ice if you want) to take the edge off.  Casein is a more slowly absorbed form of protein so it is ideal for nighttime, however, be aware that it is a more hyperallergenic form than whey, so if you have issues with dairy (as a trigger food), it is a no-no for fat loss.

9] Get your hands working so they cannot idling pick at chips and cookies. My personal favorite: work on a blog.  You could also return emails, pay bills (yay), prep your food for the next day, clean up the house or knit.

10]  Brush and floss teeth. Ugh. What a pain. Make yourself do it earlier in the night so that it a) screws up the flavor of anything you would be tempted to eat and b) is such a hassle that you won’t want to do it again if you happen to snack.

Have your favorite tactics? Let me know how you deal with nighttime eating! Good luck! ox Jill

Related: Sleep & Bedtime Rituals

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