Here's a weight-loss trick that's helped me stop my night-time eating habit. You know, the dreaded "midnight snack" anyone trying to lose weight always feels guilty about afterward.
Quite simply, stick a post-it note on your fridge that reminds you not to snack at night!
The note has no effect during the day, really. But in the middle of the night it's magic. You wouldn't think a flimsy post-it note would stop me from opening the refrigerator at 2 or 3 am and gorging myself. But it really has.
Late-night eating has so many bad side effects. Besides blowing your diet, eating at night has been linked to poor memory and learning, acid reflux disease, diabetes, and disrupted sleep patterns. Folks, it's bad!
Sometimes I'll awaken in the middle of the night starving. I think the fact I'm running a caloric deficit during the day to lose weight is the cause of this strong craving for food. My body is looking for any opportunity to get some extra calories.
But that doesn't mean I'm doomed to be trapped by the late-night eating habit. I've just had to break the ingrained pattern I foolishly allowed to take hold. If you're a midnight snacker like I used to be, fight back.
Allowing late-eating to become an ingrained habit can be truly dangerous, by the way. Some people slip into what's known as Night Eating Syndrome which is out-of-control eating in the middle of the night, beyond all reason and far past mere hunger.
The disorder usually requires medical treatment and counseling to overcome. If that sounds like you, go see your doctor.
Here's what would typically happen to me step-by-step. You may have experienced this yourself.
In the middle of the night, I'd wake up suddenly with a strong craving to snack. Then in a half-sleep, I'd shuffle to the kitchen, open the fridge, and just start eating whatever's available. And it usually was not the foods with no carbs. For a long time, it was a bowl of ice cream with chocolate syrup.
It's funny, because I'm drawn to the unhealthy food I would normally be careful to avoid during the day, like chips or sugary desserts, or cereal and milk. In other words, refined carbs and sugar. Well, this of course completely blows my calorie counting that I worked so hard on during the day.
But a while back I had an insight: Right before I go to bed, why not leave my "night-self" a warning message about night-time eating?
So that evening I stuck a post-it note on the fridge before I went to bed. I wrote a simple phrase like "Don't eat at night" or "Don't snack at night" with a smiley face. And it totally worked.
I got up per usual about 3 am, went to the fridge - and stopped in my tracks. Seeing the note, I thought, "Are those stupid snacks worth ruining my hard-earned progress?" And I just turned around and went back to bed.
Sure, I could have just opened the fridge door and snacked anyway. But that note took the wind out of my automatic behavior. Sometimes a single moment of clarity is all that's required to avoid going over the edge. True for a lot of things actually.
The power of the post-it note is that it breaks the automatic behavior. The ingrained pattern of half-sleep walking to the fridge, opening it, and eating high-calorie foods is stopped in its tracks right at the fridge door. The note creates a brief window of opportunity to come to your senses and recall how important losing weight is to you.
So I see the note, and it reminds me that it's a priority of mine to control my weight and that eating now would sabotage my hard work. Some people put a lock on their fridge at night, which you can try if you want, but I haven't found it necessary. The note does the trick for me.
Of course I already understand that it's more important for me to maintain a healthy weight than to indulge in snacks. It's just that my mind needs a little jolt when it's half asleep to remind me of this.
I'm not claiming this little weight-loss trick will work for everyone. But it might work for you, and the cost is zero, so why not give it a shot? And if you manage defeat the night-snacking enemy as I did, celebrate your victory.
Posting a sticky note on the fridge before you go to bed is a simple thing. But wow, has it worked to stop my late-night eating. Give it a try, and let me know if it works for you in the Comments section below. I'd also be interested to hear any other tricks you might know for breaking the midnight snacking habit.
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