This is a common problem for a lot of people, so if you struggle, just know you’re not alone! First, in order to know what to adjust, you must understand where the behavior is coming from. Is it a mindless eating habit? Unchecked cravings? Or perhaps true hunger that’s not adequately addressed? Each one of these reasons will need to be approached differently, as they stem from different causes. Mindless eating usually results from distraction or trying to numb for comfort. Unchecked cravings can be the result of not eating properly for your specific food preferences (aka “white knuckling” it and not making sure you include foods you actually enjoy) and/or not eating in such a way that keeps your cravings controlled (ie the order of macros in your day and in your meals). Out of control hunger usually results from not eating adequately throughout the day or attempting to restrict too rigidly. With that intro, let’s dive in!
1️⃣ #LikeHowYouEat. This is seriously important! Why in the world would you not want to enjoy what you are eating so that you can sustainably practice healthy eating habits for the rest of your life!? If you enjoy how you eat, you’ll stay consistent, and small consistent changes will help you reach your goals. When there’s no feeling of urgency having to “white-knuckle” it, or food FOMO, it removes the need to compensate and over-consume, especially at times when will power is at its lowest like the evening.
2️⃣ Be Mindful. Watch for trigger times and stressors. Analyze to see if they are emotional or habit-based. Go to work and investigate the stories you are telling yourself around why you are eating. Are they true? Are they serving you well? Is there another way you could see things play out? What could you do in order to adjust your habits so that you get a different outcome? How could you address your emotions in a more positive way so that you don’t use food to cope?
3️⃣ Plan ahead. Have something planned that you enjoy the evening. For me, it is mandatory to have a healthy dessert. Every. Single. Day. I have it in the evening because I know this is the time where I’m tempted the most. Having this to look forward to has helped me to remove temptation to indulge in less healthy things or eating in excess of what makes me physically comfortable. For me it’s sweets. For someone else it may be a crunchy, salty snack in the afternoon. Regardless of what your preference is, build it into your day wherever it is needed so that you stay on track without feeling deprived. If you have it planned in advance, it removes any guilt and feeling as though you’ve “gotten off track” because it is part of the plan! This helps to keep you from throwing in the towel at the end of the day and saying you’ll just “start again tomorrow.”
4️⃣ Macro timing. Prioritize getting enough protein throughout your day and eat it first at each meal. This helps to regulate hunger, energy, and cravings from both a hormonal and physical standpoint. Make sure you’re getting plenty of non-starchy carbs alongside your protein, then strategically place starchy carbs around workouts and at the end of the day. Everyone is different, but for the majority of my clients who are struggling, I find that this type of macro timing set up works best. I did a ridiculously in-depth post about the benefits of protein and more on this subject which you can find here. It sites clinical research and contains lots of links for you to do further digging and learning!
5️⃣ Nourish yourself in the Lord and with other things that bring you joy. I am often surprised by how many people don’t make the connection between food habits and the state of their spiritual and emotional health. Involve the Lord in this process by asking for His help. Find other things that you enjoy and fill you up. I find that when I we are doing things that bring us true fulfillment (spiritually emotionally, relationally etc.), we are less likely to fixate on food and don’t keep trying to fill a void with it either.
For help with building healthy habits and replacing unhealthy ones, head here!
Are you ready? Let’s get growing!
1/ Have you struggled with night time eating in the past? If so, what ways did you use in order to tackle it?
2/ What is your weakness…salty or sweet?
3/ What else would you want me to cover in a 5 Tips Tuesday post?