Weight Gain by Putting
Late-Night Hunger to Rest
Long after the
sun goes down, when most people are headed for sleep, some put their
good eating habits to bed instead and awaken the nighttime nibbler
Yet, as satisfying
as these midnight refrigerator raids may be, experts warn that post-dinner
snack attacks can signal the start of a vicious cycle of weight
eat most of their calories at night for any and every reason
except for actually being hungry. For emotional eaters, midnight
snacking may be a response to feeling stressed, bored or lonely.
"who have finished their daily duties and are relaxing at home,
snacking is giving in to a normal urge," says Dr. Donald Hensrud,
associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition at the
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "And, when there is little reason
to put the brakes on, it is easy to eat quite a lot."
simple as spending too much time in the kitchen the home
of the refrigerator may tempt you to start snacking.
people eat while standing at the refrigerator door. Because they
don't put the food on the plate, they tend to eat more, feel satisfied
less, and lose track of how much they have actually eaten," says
Tammy Baker, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association
Night Snacking Increases Total Calorie Intake
As diet experts
explain it, weight loss, gain, or stabilization is based on total
calories consumed per day vs. the amount of energy burned. Therefore,
"late-night snacking is a bad habit simply because it increases
total calorie intake," says Hensrud. "A calorie is a calorie is
a calorie no matter when it is consumed."
And make no
mistake, those calories do add up. "Just an added 300 calories in
the evening after dinner while watching TV when you're not
even hungry will pack on 30 pounds in one year," cautions
Katherine Tallmadge, another spokeswoman for the the American Dietetic
But the reverse
is true as well cut out that evening snack altogether and
you might lose 30 pounds in one year. Change it to fruit
and lose 20 pounds in a year. "It's the small, easy changes you
make in eating that have the most dramatic and lasting effects,"
that regularly eating at dark initiates a vicious cycle. If you
go to sleep full, you wake up fuller that you might have been otherwise.
In response, you skip breakfast, which drives you to eat more later
in the day. For some, this may mean the largest meal of the day
occurs in the evening.
So how can
you avoid potato chips with your favorite television show? Experts
offer some tips for conquering those late-night cravings:
Eat more at other times. To prevent bingeing at night, experts
recommend increasing the size of breakfast and lunch. This helps
spread your calories throughout the day and prevents trying to compensate
for the day's calories at night.
that drops after long periods of not eating can contribute to overeating
at night, so balancing intake throughout the day is important to
keep your metabolism and energy levels up," says Baker.
Keep a diary.
Record all food consumed for at least a week to determine the number
of calories you are consuming daily.
amount of food consumed staring back at you can be a sobering realization,"
says Hensrud. From here, gradually begin to decrease the number
of snacks eaten per night.
Plan a healthy
late-evening snack. If snacking at night is a regular routine,
"planning an evening snack is the easiest way to get eating back
under control and the easiest way to control the size of the snack,"
In the evening,
people tend to eat more snack foods, higher-fat foods, and larger
portions. Instead, opt for something low-fat that digests easily,
such as microwave popcorn, a glass of milk, fruit, hard candy, or
even a fudge Popsicle. These will satisfy your craving, whether
it's for something salty or sweet.
but filling options include crackers with peanut butter; yogurt
and fruit; a small salad with a slice of whole grain bread; low-fat
frozen yogurt topped with fruit; or bean dip with baked tortilla
routine. "Many night snackers are in the habit of eating at
night, and this is what drives them to continue eating," says Jeff
Hampl, assistant professor at Arizona Sate University in Tempe,
Ariz., and a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association.
the habit, Hampl recommends substituting non-food rewards, such
as taking a bubble bath or going for a moonlit walk. Just make sure
the walk's not to a late-night fast food restaurant.
Reference Source 104