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The Trouble with Nighttime Eating

The Trouble with Nighttime Eating

As the night continues and you grow more tired with each passing episode of late-night TV, maintaining a high level of will and motivation to stick with healthy habits becomes harder and harder.

During your medical weight loss program, don’t let late-night hunger undo the progress you made during the day. Plan ahead to make sure you are eating healthy and staying on track until the moment you go to bed.

Nighttime Eating and Weight Gain

Fatigue plays a huge role in poor eating habits. When you are tired, you are more likely to eat foods high in fat and sugar. As impulses become harder to control, the risk of binge eating increases

Nighttime eating is associated with weight gain thanks to several common traits:

  • It is mindless: When you eat late at night, it is usually under distracted circumstances such as while watching TV, talking with friends or working.
  • It is not prompted by physical hunger: Late night eating is rarely prompted by physical hunger. More often, nighttime snacking stems from cravings, fatigue and a desire for comfort foods.
  • It is overeating: Most people don’t plan their late-night snacks into their daily calorie goals. If you’ve met your daily calorie maximum with dinner, then anything you eat afterwards may damage your weight loss efforts.

Researchers from the University of Texas at El Paso looked at the link between nighttime snacking and weight gain. They found that those who regularly snack at night often do so in addition to their regular daily eating habits. That is to say that the calories consumed after dark were not taken into consideration during the rest of the day. As a result, any calories consumed at night were over their recommended daily calorie intake.

The researchers found that among those who snacked regularly in the evening, more than 40 percent of their daily calorie intake was coming from dinner and nighttime snacking. This may indicate that those who regularly snack at night are not eating balanced meals throughout the day, which is leaving them hungry and less able to resist unhealthy snacks after dark.

You can stop your habit of nighttime eating by:

  • Eating nutritionally balanced meals throughout the day to prevent hunger in the evening
  • Planning dinner for about three hours before bedtime
  • Going to sleep earlier instead of thinking about snacks as the night passes by

If you are truly hungry at night, think of small healthy snacks that you can enjoy instead of turning to foods high in fat and sugar. You can also plan ahead. If you know you tend to grow hungry at night, think of a snack ahead of time and incorporate those calories into your daily meal plan so that your late-night snack isn’t costing you excess calories.

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