By Dr Megan Chircop
Eating before bed has always been a controversial topic - will you gain weight or not?
Several studies have shown that there is no real benefit in depriving yourself of a night time snack before bed. So why do some people gain weight whilst others don't?
What you need to think about is why are you eating at night time after you have already had dinner, which for most people is the biggest meal of the day? Then you can work out what to do to ensure you do not gain weight.
The two most common reasons people eat at night time:
1) Are you an emotional eater? Eating for emotional rather than physiological reasons is common during evening hours. You may eat out of boredom or to cope with sadness, stress or anxiety or to celebrate or have fun with friends.
2) Eating too little during the day also leads to night time eating. In this case. it is not necessarily a bad thing to have a night time snack as long as it is within the caloric requirements for the day to maintain your weight.
The problem is, is that in both cases, most people are now TOO hungry and/or make poor food choices resulting in an excessive amount of calories consumed. Thus, they overshoot their daily caloric requirements required to maintain their weight. The result is a slow incline in weight over the years.
Solution - how to eat at night time without gaining weight
In some cases, a healthy night time snack can help you relax, fall asleep more easily or prevent you from waking up hungry during the night.
If you are going to eat a night time snack. We suggest you do not just aimlessly open the fridge or pantry and start grazing. Most often, this results in poor food choices such as ice cream, chips, biscuits, chocolate, etc.
Instead, pre-think about what you will have earlier in the day before the night time snacking 'brain' takes over. Write a note of what you will eat as a night time snack on a post-it note and stick it on your fridge or pantry door. Some good night time snack options include:
* No fat Greek yoghurt with fruit;
* Low calorie jelly
* 3 small cubes of dark chocolate (at least 70% because the more sugar you have the more you will want)
* a small handful of nuts
* Ice cream is an all time favourite night time snack. If you really want it, we suggest you opt for a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich or ice cream cup. Both are low in added sugar and are portioned so there is no chance of over scooping!
The take-home message is that if you are going to eat a night time snack then
1) Fuel your body with whole foods
2) Track your calories the and be accountable of what you're eating.
3) Depending upon the food choices and quantities you consume, eating before bed may help or hinder your wellness.
4) Don't snack at night time or stop eating at least 3 hours before bed time if you suffer from heart burn or indigestion.
5) Look after your body and it will look after you!
Night time snacks and treats are not off limits on our 5-week healthy weight management program (Personalised meal plan). You will learn how easy it can be to make delicious, healthy meals that you and your family will love. Watch your body transform and your self-confidence build as you adopt this new way-of-life.
Join today for unlimited nutritional advice, a personalised meal plan and simple recipes developed by me (Megan Chircop - Founder & Director).
You might also be interested in the following articles:
8 reasons why meal planning will ensure you lose weight and keep it off for good
Understanding portion sizes
Recipes from all cuisines to suit all cultures and tastes to achieve your weight loss goals
The secret to eating for weight loss
General recommendations for good health
Treats are not off limits on our fat loss meal plans
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