We’ve all been there; you’ve just finished dinner, you sit on the couch to Netflix and Chill then BAM, the mysterious munchie monster comes out to haunt you. Suddenly, you’re making like our ancestors and hunting and gathering anything you can find to snack on.
Overeating at night is very common and many find themselves eating even when they aren’t hungry. Unfortunately, this has the ability to impact your physique goals in a negative manner.
Here are 6 simple ways to help prevent future attacks from the munchie monster.
1. Identify the cause and triggers
Night time overeating, more often than not, is a response. There are some cues that set us up to snack and overeat immediately, such as watching tv after dinner, and then there are those that happen over the course of the day, such as undereating for example. It’s about ascertaining what causes your munchie monster to appear and then redirect that response. In some cases, it can be as simple as eliminating the cue to snack which you’ve created out of habit. For example, say that one day you came home after a long day, you ate dinner then popped a movie on and munched on a bowl of icecream. Your brain and dopamine responses decide that a movie and icecream was soothing after a rough day so you do it the next night, and the one after that. All of a sudden, every time you sit on the couch after dinner, your brain links that to needing icecream, thus, to curb this habit, it becomes about removing the trigger; sitting on the couch. Instead of sitting on the couch immediately after eating; change your routine, have a shower first, distract yourself and then the desire is no longer there.
Other triggers, immediate or otherwise can be, boredom, emotional or stress eating, not eating enough during the day, poor sleep hygiene and being dehydrated.
Knowing which of these is causing you to eat means you can address them. Sleep deprivation, for example causes drastic changes in hunger hormones, so if you know you’re a poor sleeper, work on that. Eating too few calories throughout the day means your body will be likely to want to over eat late at night to play “catch up”. Making a conscious effort to eat more meals daily might reduce your munchie monster appearances. Take a moment next time you have the desire to munch and see which of the above is likely.
2. Create a routine and distract yourself
I touched on this briefly above, but this is a truly great point. Often, we eat out of boredom or to create a distraction from stress or emotion. Instead of mindless snacking which can hinder progress, do something productive that will take your mind off food. Go for a post-dinner walk, call a friend, take a shower after dinner, read a book...the list is endless, it just needs to be something that will take your mind off of snacking.
3. Include and evening snack
You might be thinking this seems counterproductive, however, I have found with clients over the years that including a planned dessert or a prebed snack can remove the temptation to overeat as a whole, as you have essentially given yourself permission to eat after dinner. Instead of picking on handfuls of random high calorie foods like peanut butter, chocolate, lollies and chips, after dinner make yourself a high protein dessert. Why high protein? Protein is the most satiating macro-nutrient; if you’re feeling full and satisfied, you’re less likely to want to continue to overeat. I also suggest that this snack include some sweetness to curb cravings. I love to mix a scoop of ONEST WHEY ISO PRO in to some Greek or coconut yoghurt with a few berries mixed in. This snack tastes like pudding, its low calorie, high in protein and will kick those crazy cravings to the curb.
4. Protein and Fibre
Make sure your dinner meal contains both protein and fibre. As I mentioned above, protein is the most satiating nutrient, it will keep you full for longer periods of time. As will fibre. Getting fibre from vegetables is amazing for satiety, as you can eat a large volume food for a low-calorie cost; eat your veggies boys and girls. Even if you want to snack for the sake of snacking, you’re going to be able to fit in a lot less when your stomach is already full of good nutritious food.
5. Mindful eating
How often have you been eating whilst watching tv or scrolling your phone and you’ll look down at your bowl to see that it’s empty, yet you cannot remember what your food tasted like? This is a recipe for an overeating disaster. Mindful eating means eliminating distractions whilst you eat and being present with your meal. It means chewing slowly and properly, giving your body enough time to notice that it is full. By being conscious when you eat, you’re less likely to want to continue to graze as you’ll be more in tune with your satiety signals.
6. Remove temptation
“Out of sight out of mind”; get rid of anything you’re likely to binge or over consume on. If it isn’t accessible to you immediately, you’re likely to forget about it or not crave it at all. When we know our favourite treat is in the house, we are going to want to eat it. By reducing temptation, you may find your cravings go away all together.
By including some or all of these simple tips, you should be able to banish your munchie monster for good.