HOW TO KICK THE NIGHTTIME SNACK HABIT*
(*substitute whatever YOU want to work on: Weekend overindulging, daily wine drinking, avoiding exercise,
staying up too late, etc.)
Many of us feel like we have a battle raging within us over our food choices.
A big part of us wants to get healthier. Maybe we want to have more energy, improve our fitness, lose excess weight, normalize blood markers, and ward off the modern diseases of aging.
Another (often equally) big part of us wants to eat whatever we want, be spontaneous about meals, feel comforted by food, and enjoy family food traditions and rituals (holiday baking, evening snacking while watching tv, football game day appetizers, etc.).
Until we get clear about our internal pros/cons list about healthy eating, we’re likely to find ourselves in an endless loop of goal setting and self-sabotage.
LET’S BE CLEAR: This isn’t morally wrong. However, it often does undermine our sense of authority over our own lives, which makes it wrong for US! It can make us feel like we can’t trust ourselves to act in our best interest for more than a short time. It doesn’t feel good when we’re out of alignment, which is why this is so important to fix!
The trick is to figure out what emotional needs we’re trying to meet by continuing to eat foods, especially after dinner, that don’t align with our health goals.
Then, and only then, can we get creative about meeting those very same needs in a nurturing way and create alignment with the part of ourselves that wants to feel great in our own skin!
5 STEP EXERCISE TO HELP YOU KICK THE EVENING SNACKING/CONTINUOUS MEAL HABIT:
This should take you no more than 15 minutes
1) List all the PROS (good feelings, etc.) that you associate with evening snacking (or whatever you’re feeling challenged by). Write down anything that comes to mind, even if it feels a little silly:
2) List all of the “CONS” you associate with evening snacking. This list is likely to be more logical and reasoned, although there will be some emotions here as well. Be as detailed as possible:
3) Look at both lists separately. What do you notice on the PROS list? Are there are a lot of good feelings being generated by evening snacking? What are the TOP 3 positive feelings you came up with? List them below:
4) Now, look at the “CONS” list. What do you notice from this list? Toggle back and forth between both the PROS and CONS lists a couple of times. Notice just how different each of these lists are? It’s important to acknowledge this because this conflict between different parts of you is what is likely causing you to feel so conflicted and frustrated. What do you notice?
5) Now it’s time to get creative about finding ways to meet those VERY valid emotional needs that you identified in your “PRO SNACKING” list in ways that don’t make you feel out of alignment or like you can’t trust yourself.
Option 1: Substitute Healthier Snacks
This can be a very helpful first step. Instead of defaulting to chips, cookies, etc., can you bake some apple slices with cinnamon and add toasted nuts? How about a bowl of fresh or frozen berries with some coconut whipped topping? What about baking some sweet potato fries? These are not necessarily fat loss friendly options but they can be a great bridge to help you break your snack habit.
Option 2: Skip Snacking Altogether
If you start with this option, be sure you have a balanced, satisfying dinner.
Then, you will need to switch up your evening routine. Instead of sitting in the same chairs, watching the same shows, and trying to use sheer willpower not to raid the snack cabinet, commit to doing something entirely different each evening this week:
· Play cards or get out a board game
· Go for a walk
· Do a craft project solo or with family members
· Browse Facebook events and find one that looks fun
Remember: Whatever you choose, it shouldn’t feel like punishment (i.e. cleaning out your closet or doing another task you dread)! This will NOT help your brain get on board with this change! Your job is to meet the SAME emotional needs you uncovered in your PROS list, not to white knuckle your way through a lame evening.
BRAINSTORM YOUR OWN EVENING IDEAS BELOW: