nav-left cat-right

Tips to avoid late-night snacking

An important weight management tip is to eat when you we feel true, physiological hunger. Eating when not truly hungry can lead to excess calories and weight gain. Excessive snacking before bedtime and/or late at night, in particular, can become a bad habit. It can be a ‘go to’ behavior to distract us when we are experiencing uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings, such as frustration, anger, fear and boredom. Even excess stress and exhaustion can play a role in night-time eating. Here are some tips to limit mindless eating at night:

Eat well during the day: Aim to consume regular, well balanced meals with a wide variety of foods. Take time to plan your meals and snacks. Listen to your body and stay fueled throughout the day, according to your hunger levels.

Include fiber-rich foods: Few Americans eat enough of fiber-rich foods. Fiber, found in plant foods, promotes digestive and heart health and keeps you feeling fuller longer. Whole grains, fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds and legumes are fiber-rich. The more fiber you eat, the more important it is to drink plenty of water.

Don’t skimp on protein and overdo processed carbs: Noshing on processed carbs all day, such as crackers, white bread, granola bars, sugary cereals, sweets, pastries, and chips, for example, doesn’t provide your body with what it needs for optimum performance. Stick with healthier carb choices, such as fruit, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Pair these foods with a source of protein, such as a hard-boiled egg, Greek yogurt, nut butter, cottage cheese, hummus, tuna, etc.

Think twice before taking a bite: what are you really feeling? Is it true hunger or are you anxious, bored, frustrated or tired? What other activities and behaviors would satisfy you? Consider calling a friend to chat, playing a game, going for a walk, taking a relaxing shower or bath, reading, etc.

Go to bed earlier: if you are eating out of boredom or as a compliment to late-night television, consider an earlier bedtime. Sleep is important for weight control. Inadequate sleep can interfere with efficient carbohydrate metabolism, increase fat storage and hunger.

If you are truly hungry, eat a healthy balanced snack, such as yogurt with fruit, oatmeal with raisins and nuts, 1/2 small turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread or a slice of whole wheat toast spread with peanut butter or low-fat ricotta cheese and a dab of honey or jam. Keep your portions small and avoid distractions while eating.

Is It Right For You? Choosing a Diet Book/Plan

Successful weight loss means making small changes toward a healthy lifestyle. Make sure your weight loss plan is right for you.

Ask yourself these questions; does it include:

• Foods from all ‘food groups’ and sub-categories?
• At least the minimum number of servings from each group?
• Foods you will enjoy eating for the rest of your life (it should not be a ‘short-term’ fix.
• Foods you can buy at the supermarket?
• Some of your favorite foods?
• Foods that fit your budget and lifestyle?
• Regular physical activity or exercise?

If the answer is “yes” to all the questions, your weight loss plan may be right for you.

Low-Calorie Life: How to Eat a Low-Calorie Diet

Though not a comprehensive ‘how-to’ tutorial…these tips are important when beginning or resuming a low-calorie diet. Use them to help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Before you begin your low-calorie diet:

1) Be Realistic. If weight loss is your goal, don’t set yourself up for disappointment or health problems by setting unrealistic goals. This should be a positive experience, so start with small, achievable goals. For lasting weight control, aim to lose no more than two pounds per week.

Crash dieting is bad for you! Among other things, it will ultimately slow down your metabolism, making it difficult to shed pounds as your body typically goes into preservation or ‘starvation’ mode when you don’t consume enough food. A low-calorie diet that dips below 1,200 calories daily is too low!

2) Clean out your kitchen/pantry! High calorie leftovers and goodies such as cookies, cakes, full-fat cheeses and other full-fat dairy products should be tossed out! Cast out seasonal candies and treats, too. Replace them with wholesome, fresh, unprocessed naturally low-calorie foods. Remember, you can only prepare and eat the foods you have readily available. You can’t polish off a package of cookies if they aren’t there!

3) Restock your refrigerator and pantry with healthy, wholesome ingredients. Start fresh and new. Substitute low-calorie and light products for their high calorie counterparts. Buy whole grain pastas, breads, and cereals; and keep plenty of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables on hand.

Low-calorie diet tips

4) Slowly cut back on excess calories. Start by monitoring your portion sizes. Portions (and plates) have grown so much that we don’t recognize what a standard serving is or looks like anymore.

Always read nutrition fact panels as food packages often contain two servings but the nutritional analysis label refers to one serving. Become familiar enough with standard serving sizes to be able to ‘eyeball it’ and use smaller plates for meals. Remember, by definition, low-calorie foods offer 40 calories per serving.

5) Minimize your fat and junk food intake. Doing this can and will drastically decrease the amount of calories you take in. Why? Each gram of fat equals 9 calories, whereas each gram of protein or carbohydrate equals 4 calories (less than half). Also cut back on “empty” calories. Refer to what are empty calories for more information. Small changes make a big difference. Swap your 12 ounce can of soda with sparkling water (which is not low-calorie but is actually calorie-free!) and you’ve just lost 1 pound per month!

6) Always eat breakfast. Wait – put down those pastries! Consuming a healthy low-calorie breakfast jump starts your metabolism and sustains you until lunchtime, keeping your blood sugar steady. Ninety-five percent of those that are most successful at losing weight are breakfast eaters. In addition, noshing on a nutritious low-calorie breakfast gives you the opportunity to start the day right, filling up on premium fuel, such as vitamin & mineral-rich whole grains, low/non-fat dairy products, and fresh fruit.

Now you are ready to begin/resume your low-calorie diet!