This week I have had several patient calls related to overeating at night. Eating too many calories at night is something I repeatedly hear about. Nothing new here, but let me address it.
First, when people tell me they overeat at night, I can always tell they feel ashamed. Although they share their secret with me, they feel bad about it.
Of course, these patients are not alone. So many (most?) people eat too many calories at night. The reasons vary from not eating enough during the day to being bored at night and wanting to eat while they are in their “Netflix and chill” mode.
Here are some tips to avoid consuming too many calories in the evening.
- Make sure you are eating enough throughout the day. I hear from patients that they’re “good” all day, but as soon as they get home, they begin raiding the pantry and that grazing continues into the evening. It’s easy to be distracted when we are busy all day with work or hobbies or whatever we are doing. Generally, when you tell me you have been “good,” what I hear is that you didn’t eat enough. Be sure to get enough nutritious calories to sustain your energy throughout the day. You need the energy of food to fuel your mind and body. Not eating enough during daytime hours will lead to eating whatever you can get your hands on when you get home. And in my experience, it isn’t a kale salad.
- Eat foods you ENJOY throughout the day. Kidney stone formers and my weight loss clients tell me that they were compliant with super healthy food choices all day long, but when they sit down to relax, all bets are off. Pack a lunch that is Kidney Stone Diet-Safe, but also one you enjoy eating. Lifestyle change only works if you like your lifestyle. If you do not enjoy your food, you will not stick to the plan.
- You must eat your favorite foods here and there (not spinach or almond products) because deprivation always leads to temptation. Life is long. Eating should be for nourishment, but there will be times you want your favorite food. Pizza on the kidney stone diet? Sure, eat a couple of pieces, have a salad with it, and be on your way. Portion, not perfection, is the motto we follow with the KSD lifestyle. The reason people fail on diets is that the diet fails them. A healthy lifestyle needs to be enjoyable enough to stay compliant with for a lifetime, not just a few weeks.
- Do not have snacks in your cupboards that you tend to overeat. Let me repeat that. Do not have snacks that are trigger foods for you. There will never be a box of Cheez-Its in my house. NEVER. Why? Because I cannot control myself. If I opened that box, it would not return to the shelf. Empty boxes go in the garbage, not back in the pantry. And I assure you, I would eat the whole thing. Nobody, including yours truly, is immune to overeating their favorite foods. Get them out of your house!
- Find a coping skill other than food to combat your boredom, loneliness, anger, etc. Can you go for a walk? Can you call a friend? Can you journal? Can you knit? Can you paint? You get the picture.
- Find lower-calorie alternatives to the snacks you are choosing. Can you pick a lower-calorie popcorn? I like Outshine Popsicles; they have no added sugar and only 25 calories per pop, and sometimes I eat 3-4 of them. Yup, I do.
- If you have tried all of these tips and still cannot get a grip on nighttime noshing, eat less for your dinner to save room for calories later on while watching your favorite movie.
- Join my Kidney Stone Prevention Course and stay accountable. There are now people out there who are copying my format and platform so don’t be fooled. My course is the original and the one that will get you to your goals.
- When you are feeling the need to snack, remind yourself how hard you have worked to get yourself to the place you are now. Why sabotage all that effort?
- Be kind to yourself. There will be nights you DO overeat. Brush off those crumbs and get right back to work the next day. Everyone has nights like this. The trick is not to have them for weeks and months because that is enough time to regain that weight or stone.
Email me and tell me what types of tips and tricks you have found helpful in battling the nighttime munchie habit?