Four Strategies to handle “The Munchies”
One of the most common things I hear when talking to people about their health is
‘I'm pretty good with my nutrition, until I get that 9 pm feeling!'
The timing changes, but it's so common to get an evening craving that's just so irresistible!. So I thought I'd share a few strategies that some of our clients have tried that worked for them, to banish the night time munchies (or at least reduce them!).
Have a clear intention, and setting that intention at a time you feel motivated. If you find you're focused first thing in the morning, or when you initially get home from work - set yourself a clear plan, just for that day, write it down. For example ‘After I finish dinner, I will not eat again today'.
Something that can be powerful for others is having a more detailed understanding of what eating at that time is doing on a hormonal level. I'm going to get a bit sciency here, so feel free to skip ahead if it's not your thing!
Essentially there are two hormones I want to focus on here - insulin and glucagon. We can think of insulin as our storage hormone - it tells our body to take energy and put it into storage (often in the form of fat). Insulin gets stimulated when we eat. Glucagon is the opposite to insulin, it tells our body to pull energy from storage (often fat) to use up. Both can't be working at the same time, so if fat loss is a goal - we need to be not stimulating insulin whilst stimulating glucagon. For glucagon to really come into play, you need around 4 hours of not eating. So if I finish my evening meal at 7.30pm I've got all that period until breakfast to get my body into that fat burning state. If however, I indulge in a late night snack, I'm releasing insulin again, and resetting the clock before I can get back into using fat as fuel and reducing the overall time I will do so. No need to get caught in the weeds, but understanding this is really powerful for some people. Knowing this means you can make a choice, is this snack worth pushing my body out of fat burning mode?
Pre-Empt. What we can also do with that habit, is use the internal dialogue of ‘time for a nibble' to be a cue for a new behaviour. Pre-empt in advance what you are likely to feel in the evening, and when you get that reminder from your stomach, it's time to try something new. That might be to grab a cup of herbal tea, go for a short walk, get in a meditation, maybe just do 5 squats. You already have a habit wired in here, let's use that wiring to, at best, change the habit completely, or at the very least add in an extra healthy behaviour.
Increasing Awareness. The fourth and last strategy I'll share today is about increasing awareness. When you find yourself heading to the fridge - say out loud (or even better, write down) what you are about to do and how you are feeling. Not because you are feeling, just notice whatever it is you are feeling. Then carry on with getting your tasty treat. This is not about stopping yourself, but overtime you may find your habits change with the awareness you develop from this practice.
If you try out any of these, let us know how it goes! What do you notice? Or if you have any other thoughts or tips please share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org we'd love to hear how you tame the munchies!!