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The Guide To Night Time Snacking

The Guide To Night Time Snacking

Thursday 9th November 2017

So, it's been a tough day; work was rather demanding, there were errands to do on the way home, children pick ups, forgotten items, arguments and a roaring tiredness to deal with, but now it's time to relax. There maybe a few more jobs to do, but the main theme will be switching off and chilling...oh...and don't forget - you'll need to deal with your spectacular transformation into the Snack Monster at some point. Sound familiar?

I never get tired of hearing about the after work snacking that goes on. The lists I have from honest food diaries, do take some digesting! However, we all do it in some form.

Some of us embark on a crazy riot in the cupboards straight after work. Crisps, leftovers and biscuits seem to be fair game here, or anything that just fills a gaping hole that suddenly appears when arriving home. Or, if you're making tea for the family, it may seem a lot of the preparation, doesn't quite make it onto the plates? There are a number of mums in particular, who can relate to sitting down to the evening meal and not feel remotely hungry after a mini "nosebag" to gain composure after a long day.

If you have made it past this window of" Ding Dong, Snacks Calling", you may suffer from another snacking habit - dinner, TV, snack, bed. It would also seem that many of us suddenly turn in to Bear Grylls after 8pm, where we are in the kitchen foraging for out of date food, the kids sweets, cooking chocolate and "back of the settee fodder" like we haven't eaten for days!

But how many of us are actually hungry? Proper, stomach growling hunger?

Ok, there are some of us who may have acquired an extra appetite from a variety of activities before the evening time ritual: gym work, gardening, dog walk, a demanding session putting a child to bed? But most of us could probably own up to not being hungry at all.

How Bad Can It Be?
We have all been force fed that eating late at night is the worst thing possible; our bodies don't get to use this extra energy up, it gets stored as fat and it is a major contributor to heart disease and Type II Diabetes.

Well, it's a bit of a myth really. Where we ought to eat our main meal at the time of day we are at our most active, our calories consumed are accumulated over the course of a day and we perhaps ought to be more mindful of that. The packet of chocolate digestives eaten at elevenses doesn't get discounted because you didn't eat them watching Goggle Box!

So, if you are on a good eating/weight loss goal, don't feel disheartened and discouraged if you have had a sensible snack after work or before bedtime. Research has shown that small, regular meals can actually promote weight loss, maintain sugar levels and reduce cravings. Maybe you should still give yourself a pat on the back and still go to bed happy?

Night Time Snacks
So, let's be honest, I could try and convince you to just abstain from reaching for the Scooby Size Snack Sandwich late at night or eating half of the family meal from the pan before it hits the plates, but unless I introduced some sort of stapling or wiring approach, this is a big ask! There are a number of things you could do to try and help things a little though: -

  • Distractions; a new hobby, a book, game nights or calling friends are simple additions to an evening ritual that keep your mind off the cupboard?
  • Chew gum when preparing food.
  • Supermarket/Shop Lock Down...don't buy the goodies you like to munch on in the first place?
  • A Motivational Incentive; for every-night you DON'T succumb to the extra meal, pop £2 in a breakfast bowl, that's for a treat at the end of the month...non-food related.
  • Embrace the Snack; make allowances for it! If it's an extra meal, reduce the others in the day a bit and spread it out!
  • And don't take the snack away from its home; put a reasonable portion on a plate and walk away!

Having said all of that, we should look at one issue that may surround the late-night snacking - "physical symptoms". Restless sleeping, headaches, tiredness, cravings for sugar and carbohydrate based foods and dehydration can all be formed from a vicious snacking circle. And this can go around and around, not allowing you to feel quite the best you could.

If you do suffer from a collection of these symptoms, instead of fighting with ideas of whether a padlock/locking timer/TNT system on the fridge is the way to go, you may find choosing snacks that are high in Tryptophan could be the answer?

Tryptophan is known to aid sleep, relax and calm brain function. Eating snacks rich in this and avoiding processed sugar, salty and spicy foods will assist with a better night's sleep and help to prevent sugar and carbohydrate cravings the following day.

The following snacks contain this sleep-inducing Tryptophan:
Lean Turkey, Chicken, Beef or Pork Slices, Tuna and Prawns, Bananas, Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds, Soya Foods, such as Edamame Beans (or "fat peas" as my children call them!), Low Fat Dairy and Reduced Fat Cheeses, such as Mozzarella, Oats, Beans. Lentils, and Eggs.

So, don't beat yourself up if you are reaching for an evening snack. Try these great tips though, be mindful of the differences between binge eating and "sensible snacking" and enjoy some different foods that your body will love you for.

  • Take your evening snack into account when eating during the day, make allowance for it!
  • Take a sensible quantity of food, put it on a plate and leave the rest in the cupboard
  • Ask yourself - "Am I actually hungry?" You could just need a drink or feel bored?
  • Only keep healthy snack foods in the house if possible
  • Choose foods that promote good sleep
  • Don't over eat or "binge" as this will result in poor sleeping patterns and headaches
  • If you are tired or hungry between meals, consider if they are providing adequate energy and nutrition?
  • On a weight loss goal? Try stocking the fridge with fruit infused waters and opt for those rather than snacks. Pop some frozen fruits in them for nibbling on.
  • Whip Up This Tasty, Fresh Snack to Help You Sleep. Using a blender of any sort, whizz up 4 tbsp defrosted Edamame Beans, 6-7 fresh Mint leaves, 1 tbsp chopped Chives, 4 tbsp Low Fat Greek Yoghurt, 1 tsp Salt, 2 tbsp Low Fat Cream Cheese, ½ tsp Garlic Powder (optional). Spread onto crackers or oat cakes of your choice. Serves 2 hungry people.
  • Take a look at the Snack List for some more friendly snacks to be trying in the evening. Eat Me