Are “The Late Night Munchies” Weighing You Down?

It’s 9 o’clock, get your hands where I can see ’em! Wipe off those crumbs from that cake you just had. We’re takin’ you into food court!

With my imaginary gavel, I summon you to explain to me why exactly you had your hands in that bag of chips and were mindlessly consuming that chocolate cake without remembering to exhale. If you answered with, “I was hungry,” I can understand. I’ll give you a one-day probation period.

We all feel the need to munch at night sometimes. (Keyword: SOMEtimes) Is it really that terrible to snack late at night?

Personally, I feel it depends on your activity throughout the day and what exactly you ate.

For instance– if you consume 6 small meals consisting of an equal balance of fat, protein, and carbohydrates on top of throwing in some rigorous exercise- then you are allowed one piece of cake or a serving of chips.

However- if you lie to yourself and think the lettuce on your burger bun counted as “greens”, then hell no- you should be opting for fruit or homemade kale chips instead.

Once again- this nutritional buzzword– “moderation” comes into play. As long as you aren’t indulging every night, chances are you’ll still maintain a healthy weight and continue to stay healthy.

Now I also want to address another class of us human beings: The “Late Night Shifters

If you work until 8 P.M. or even begin work at 8 P.M., then obviously your schedule actually requires you to consume meals late at night. There is really no true issue with this unless you are taking in a 2000 calorie meal in one sitting. (Flashbacks to my college days!)

A general rule of thumb adhered to by most of the health and wellness community: Eat 3 hours before bed.

**(Enough time for digestion and serotonin levels to adjust!) Sometimes, certain foods keep us awake- which then messes with our sleep cycle and a very significant chemical in our bodies- (Cortisol). This controls- you guessed it- the fat in your body! So the more you mess with it, the more you may begin to notice a muffin top.**

If you work the late shift somewhere- I feel for you. But, you don’t get a free nutritional slack off pass. Treat your 4, 6, 8, 10 hour shift like you normally would during the day. Eat well-balanced meals with a few healthy snacks in between. Your body will naturally adjust.

I leave with with some nutritional tips and tricks:

1) Eat a full balanced breakfast. This will keep you full throughout the day and studies show it minimizes the urge to participate in late night binges.

2) If you’re biting your nails off because they are zero calorie and your anxiety is through the roof- by all means…snack. Just make sure it’s the right kind of snack. I’d say a fistful of nuts and some yogurt. Kale chips, sweet potato fries, banana and peanut butter, etc.

3) Wait 20-30 minutes after eating dinner before snacking. Your brain doesn’t receive the full benefits of what you eat until about a half hour after you consume it. Blame it on the digestion process! This is why you may feel full, but not satisfied. Dopamine is usually the chemical which causes this juxtaposition.

4) Include several cups of your favorite tea throughout the day. (I’m not talking about Mickey D’s) I like Sweet Cinnamon Tazo Tea, Chocolate Mint tea, and also Celestial Seasonings Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride. It literally tastes like it’s an indulgence, but it’s not! This will help ease your cravings later on in the day.

5) Exercise. This is a no-brainer. Exercise feeds our muscles and our minds. It controls a bunch of receptors in our brains. (a.k.a- endorphins) Exercising regularly has been shown to curb late night binges as well.

6) If you get into those kaleidoscope craving moods and you can’t shake it, try to eat during the morning or early afternoon hours. This is when our bodies are in prime metabolic rate mode and you’ll be most likely to burn it off.

7) AVOID watching The Food Network after 8 P.M.I have had this unfortunate experience and it’s ended in several guilty cry-fests. My stomach wasn’t happy either.

8) Consume 8 ounces of milk 20 minutes before bed. Milk contains tryptophan, which induces sleep. It works in conjunction with serotonin to put you into a soft slumber instead of a night at the refrigerator.

What do you do for cravings? Any healthy snack tips?

Peace, love, and healthy munchies!

~C.C.D.

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