It would be great to find an effortless, fun, easy and irreversible way to [insert your biggest wish here]. Like finding that perfect shade of lipstick, a dress that makes you look like a princess, or a chocolate dessert with fewer calories than celery. We can dream, right?
Once in a while, a single, seemingly small change can do just that. I know because it happened to me. I’m now 59 and I credit my 15+ lb weight loss to cutting out nighttime snacking. Moreover, this has helped me keep the weight off for more than seven years.
No muss, no fuss, just made the decision to stop eating at 7:00 p.m. and have not looked back. Did it happen overnight? I wish. Keep in mind it takes a 3,500-calorie deficit to lose a pound of fat.
Plus, it wasn’t as if I polished off a sleeve of Oreos and half pint of Chunky Monkey each night and then suddenly decided to eat nothing after dinner. It was a handful or two of crackers or nuts, nothing huge, but I didn’t need the calories.
After a few months, I noticed my pants fitting looser. I was surprised when I stepped on the scale for my annual checkup at the doctor’s to find I’d lost more than 10 lbs. That inspired me to keep going up this new and improved habit. In the end, I lost about 18 pounds or so in that year.
The best part? I was never hungry. Seriously. Cutting out 500 or more calories would’ve been a different story. Drastic measures rarely work in the long run.
Also note that if I’d been intentionally striving for weight loss, which I had not, those 18 pounds would have amounted to approximately 1 & 1/2 lbs. per month!
Would you be discouraged by that rate of progress? Most people would. It’s exactly why it’s good to make these changes, set ’em and forget ’em, knowing you’re doing something good for your body. Lifestyle changes do not have deadlines.
Making small changes such as these are much easier to maintain than vowing to never eat chocolate, cut out all bread, ban the booze and a hundred other things you know you’ll never be able to do for the rest of your life.
Skipping a small snack at night? Doable. If this is your issue, I have a few tips that may help you, too.
If you’re starving at night, chances are you didn’t eat enough during the day. If you have a bigger lunch and have a healthy snack mid-afternoon – the “witching hour” for cravings – you simply won’t be hungry at night.
Try not to let more than four hours pass between meals so you avoid becoming too hungry to make sensible dietary decisions.
Lean proteins like fish, eggs, dairy, lean meats and beans do a bunch of wonderful things. Protein revs your metabolism, keeps hunger at bay and fills you up.
Strive to include 20 grams (approximately 3 oz) with each meal and about half that with snacks. Swap out any carb-loaded meals – I’m lookin’ at you, bagel for breakfast! – with a protein to fend off hunger longer.
Ideally, you want to stop eating two, preferably three hours before you go to sleep. If you typically eat up until you turn off your nightstand light, begin with a half hour and train yourself to gradually go for longer periods of time between your last meal and sleep.
Cutting out snacking may also mean you’re cutting out something to do with your hands. A hot, calorie-free, comforting beverage at night fits the bill.
I sip on herbal tea. The downside? Pee dreams. You know, those dreams when you spend half the night looking for a bathroom because in real life you have to go. So, maybe knitting or coloring may work better for you. Just make sure it’s non-food related.
I talk a lot about mindset because we often see these types of changes in a negative way. Telling yourself you “can’t” have something makes you want it even more.
Flip that switch. Know why you’re making this change and give yourself time to adjust. I’m talking about a month or two, not a couple of days.
Saying, “Oh, well, I tried this for a week and it didn’t work for me, so I may as well go back to my bad habits and forget the whole thing,” is an excuse. Stop doing it.
You can do this! I did it, and I don’t possess any superpowers. At least none that I’m aware of yet. That could change any given moment.
Do you tend to eat at night? Let’s chat about it! Leave a comment down below to get the conversation going.