Waking up at night to raid the fridge? Those night-time excursions aren’t healthy and will only add to your waistline. Here are some ways to curb those cravings.
1. Load up on protein at breakfast
This is your first meal of the day, so it’s important you get it right. You need to have a protein-packed breakfast that will see you through the day. Protein helps sustain your energy levels so that you don’t start flagging, and also fills you up. Have a bowl of oatmeal with nuts, along with fruits like apple and pear early in the morning. Around mid-morning, have some Greek yoghurt or a cup of black beans.
2. Eat meals every few hours
The idea is to keep yourself satiated and energised throughout the day by eating at regular intervals. Carry snacks like nuts, fruits and granola bars to see you through the day so you aren’t tempted to reach for junk. Having small, healthy meals every three hours or so is ideal. This way your body doesn’t feel deprived, leading you to binge eat brownies at midnight.
3. Boost your fibre intake
Foods that are high in fibre are low in calories and help you stay fuller for longer. A diet that’s right in fibre helps control cravings as well as late-night snacking. Fibre stabilises blood sugar levels, so you don’t crave the sweet stuff, and fills your stomach. So have leafy greens, nuts, fruits, and non-starchy vegetables.
4. Turn off the screen
At dinnertime, avoid watching television or surfing on your phone. They are distractions that cause mindlessness and take the focus away from what and how much you are eating. Since you aren’t aware of your food intake your brain doesn’t get the right satiety signals and therefore you think you’re hungry a few hours later. So switch off the TV, put away the phone and take time to savour and enjoy your meal.
5. Eat a balanced dinner
A too heavy meal and you’ll feel bloated through the night; make it small one and you’ll be waking up for a snack. Balance out your dinner with lean protein (it helps you feel full, and rebuilds and maintains muscles), a generous serving of vegetables for their fibre, some carbs (which will help reduce those sweet cravings), fruits, and low-fat dairy. A healthy, well-rounded dinner will mean you’ll stay fuller longer and won’t be piling on the calories while you sleep.
Photograph: Eric May/Flickr