Managing Late-night Food Cravings

According to statistics, overweight folks consume 60 percent of their daily caloric intake after the dinner meal. I have heard from numerous clients that they eat according to their food plan beautifully all day long until night falls. For people working outside their homes, as soon as they walk in the door, food begins to call their name. High sugar, high carbohydrate foods call; not fruits, vegetables, or whole grains. The tremendous temptation and pull, if not managed carefully can sabotage our efforts at weight loss and undo the good work that we have done all day. It is crucial to set boundaries around after-dinner food consumption.

Do you remember when you were encouraged to think about and decide what choices you would make BEFORE you were actually IN the situation? For example, the time to decide about drug use is BEFORE you are sitting in a room full of your friends passing the joint your direction. The time to decide about premarital sex is BEFORE you are in the throes of passion with raging hormones in the back seat of the car. If a group of friends are going out for the evening, a designated driver is appointed BEFORE the drinking begins so that all will make it home safely. Does it follow, then that the time to make nighttime FOOD choices is BEFORE you are at home, exhausted from the day, with your defenses weak and your resistance low? The time to decide what and how much to eat is before you walk in the door from work or before you prepare the evening meal.

Setting boundaries around evening food consumption would look like this:

“ I will eat one orange 2 hours prior to bedtime” or “I will eat two celery sticks with one Tablespoon of peanut butter 2 hours after dinner”. (Be careful to measure amounts as peanut butter is an “expensive” food).

You might want to commit to a cup of coffee and two vanilla wafers after dinner or 3 cups of popcorn.

Here are some additional guidelines to help you:

1. You want to make sure that the amount that you plan to eat is within your daily caloric limit.

2. The earlier that you eat your snack, the more time your body has to metabolize it before bedtime.

3. Expect that you will want to eat more than you have committed to and be proactive about that.

4. Have an accountability partner who you can call if you are tempted to violate your food boundaries.

5. Know that you will probably feel hungry when you go to bed. Its o.k. Breakfast will taste much better with an appetite.

6. Try going to bed earlier to stave off hunger pains.

7. Drink plenty of water.

8. Remember the gassy, bloated feeling in the morning the last time that you over-indulged at night. It isn’t worth it. Refuse to abuse yourself one more time!

9. Pray for the Lord to give you the strength to resist temptation. He won’t fail you!

This article is by Jennifer Cecil, M.Ed., LPC

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