Monday, February 21, 2011

Healthier Late Night Snacking Tips...for your inner Cookie Monster!

Do you ever eat well all day and then get a late night "super-craving"for something unhealthy?  You are not alone!  More people loose sight of their healthy eating intentions after 10pm than any other part of the day.  During this time of day our organs of digestion and elimination are at their lowest strength because they have worked hard all day to absorb nutrients from, process, and breakdown our food. 

Ideally, Late night eating should be avoided by properly nourishing throughout the day. For example, eating every 3-4 hours adequate amounts of protein, fat, and low-moderate carbohydrate vegetables helps give the body what it needs to feel satiated, balanced, and ready for sleep. If you feed your body these 3 basic things it will not be craving cookies every night in the first place. Unless of course you have some other underlying digestive or health imbalance. Some people have extreme carbohydrate cravings because their bodies are low in serotonin or they have candida over-growth. 

However, some days no matter so hard you try it is hard to eat enough food, much less, a healthy diet throughout the day.  Truth is, it's inevitable that you will need to enjoy a meal or snack late at night one in a while.  What becomes important is that you are mindful of what you put into your body at all times. For me, food affects the way I feel and I work really hard to feel good everyday. If I take the time to listen, I often chose that the sinful food is not worth the suffering it will cause me. The trick is being aware enough to stop and listen. It's so hard and I've definitely found myself halfway through eating a cookie before I realize what I am doing. Sheesh.

Pay attention to the way food affects your unique body.  Foods have different qualities and cause different results in the body. For example, eating hot wings or a pizza right before bed may lead to heart burn, hard stools, sour stomach, or poor sleep. I know they taste good - but are they really worth all those side effects? Ideally we aim to enjoy foods that offer us the most health promoting benefits and honor our unique body at least 80% of the time!  :-)  

Here are several ways to encourage healthier late night consumption:

1.  Take small sips of warm water between bites to help yourself fill up faster and gently encourage the digestive fire (agni).  Since our digestive capabilities are at their lowest strength late at night warming them is a kind gesture.  

2.   Enjoy foods that are light and easy to digest.  Such as a bowl of mixed ripe berries with a spoonful of coconut cream, steamed broccoli with a small amount lemon butter, sliced fruit with a tablespoon of fresh ground nut butter, or a light vegetable soup.  It's easier than you think to buy a few of these to have on hand and whip up in a few minutes!  

3.  Avoid foods with heavy (tamasic) or restless (rajasic) qualities.  Foods to avoid include processed foods like pastas and cereals, candy, fast food, caffeine, chocolate, flour of any kind, sugar, meats and poultry, alcohol, spicy food, large quantities of dairy, etc.  Basically, eat foods which are light and close to the earth. Gently cooked vegetables are best since they are easier to digest.

4.  Have a late night cup of tea with or after your snack.  There is an compound (called a catechin) contained in all teas in varying degrees which interfere with fat absorption.  You're more likely to create and store fat in the body if you lay down immediately after eating - so after you eat sip on a cup of mild green tea* and do some gentle Yoga before bed.  I personally love to rest in Supta Baddha Konasana to stretch out my belly and de-stress every night.
*Green tea does contain caffeine and they do offer caffeine free varieties. However, research suggests that for teas that are naturally caffeinated they caffeine is essential to the absorption of the nutrients.  Therefore, drink teas that naturally do not contain caffeine such as chamomile or mint.  

5.  Eat slowly and chew well!  Chewing your food well helps to encourage the body to inform you when you are full.  When we chew our food well we naturally eat slow and produce more digestive enzymes which help us to digest and benefit from the nutrients provided in our food. Lastly, eating slowly and chewing well also helps us to receive the signals from the brain that we are full before we have over-eaten.

Keri is an internationally Registered Yoga Teacher, creator of yoga props, and health lifestyle educator.  She owns and operates BAYA Wellness, LLC offering yoga classes, handmade props, and healthy lifestyle services. Keri teachers both privately and publicly around the Greenville area offering on-going classes and special events. 
BAYA... Be As You Are!

Contact for details: Website or 864-430-1275
Updated: 5/3/13

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