Laying off the late-night snacks
It’s frustrating to eat well all day but yet get stuck in this bad habit of snacking on unhealthy foods at night. Any suggestions? Thanks, Gemma.
Hi Gemma. If your evening routine has started to involve eating more than you’d like, it’s time to break up the pattern of your night. Simply changing the order of your evening can help, altering the connections between certain activities and eating can help your brain let go of the notion that it doesn’t feel ‘‘right’’ not to follow through. Setting up new habits may feel a bit strange at first, but before long, it will become your new normal.
For many people, eating in general, regardless of what time – can tend to be mindless. This is most often the case with late night snacking.
When you start thinking about food as fuel for your body, it can help bring the importance of quality and balance into focus. Snack foods tend to be more processed which are less likely to help provide the building blocks that go to work to build and repair muscle tissue, maintain a healthy immune system and keep your skin nourished.
A good question to ask yourself before snacking at night is: ‘‘Am I actually hungry?’’ If it was truly hunger driving your snacking your desire to snack at night, your food choices would reflect this. I don’t know too many people who snack on broccoli!
Many people use food as a coping mechanism – to try and alleviate feelings of boredom, frustration, sadness, stress – or even eat to enhance feelings of happiness.
Snacking at night is actually really common often particularly with people following strict diet and exercise regimes. It is also generally a time when people are alone and therefore don’t feel as conscious of their food choices.
Although there are certainly emotional reasons why you may be snacking at night there can also be biochemical/nutritional reasons, too. These can include actually being hungry – this is particularly common when you cut out a food group at night or have something particularly light such as soup or salad.
It’s also more common to snack at night if your food intake over the day has been low and you’re one of those people who ‘‘forgets to eat’’. Bring awareness to when you’re drawn to eat at night and ask yourself the question, what do I really want? What is this really about?
Is there a difference between cacao and cocoa? With thanks – Sue G.
Yes there is although often this is Email your questions for Dr Libby to email@example.com. Please note, only a selection of questions can be answered. mistaken as a spelling error. Raw cacao powder is typically made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. The process keeps the living enzymes in the cocoa and removes the fat (cacao butter).
Cocoa powder looks the same (although it can tend to be slightly lighter) as cacao powder but it’s not. Cocoa powder is raw cacao that’s been roasted, typically at high temperatures.
This process reduces or destroys the enzyme content, which lowers the overall nutritional value. Cacao powder has a higher antioxidant content than cocoa and has been linked to a variety of health benefits. As a result, it’s best not to heat cacao powder. We do not know whether or not heating raw cacao destroys its antioxidant level, so it’s best to avoid heating it if possible.
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Snacking at night is more common often particularly with people following strict diet and exercise regimes.