Image by: John Loo
By MacKenzie Nelson-Greene
You’ve been told time and time again that eating after 8:00 PM is a dangerous for your diet and exercise program. However, there are times when eating so late is a necessity.
Sometimes those late night cravings cannot be satiated by drinking more water or trying to fall asleep. Unfortunately, there are times when our bodies tell us that we absolutely must have food, and if we withhold said food, there will be hell to pay.
Ultimately, the issue with nighttime cravings is convenience. We reach for the fastest, least healthy item in our fridge or freezer. Either that, or we convince ourselves that we were so good today that we deserve ice cream and other high-calorie evils in our refrigerators.
Well, ladies, I hate to break it to you, but those calories are costing us extra hours at the gym throughout the week, and it is time to figure out new ways to tame those late night cravings.
If your stomach starts growling like an angry dog right before bed time, you know the pain of your mind arguing with your stomach, and you know your stomach will ultimately win. Therefore, it is essential that we find foods that won’t kill our diets but will still appease the monsters in our bellies. If you are with me, check out these three ways to keep your calorie count down at night, so you can wake up to a happy scale, and a happy you.
#1) No Carbs… No Way!
No. Step away from the leftover pasta from dinner. Close the breadbox. Step away from the cookies. There is something about eating late at night that makes us reach for comfort foods, and though we all know the danger of these comfort foods, we tend to give in to them the later it gets.
Now, ladies it is important to remember our substitutions—the foods and snacks that we use to substitute high-calorie items that we crave.
Therefore, if you are craving comfort foods, and you generally reach for the leftover pasta as a late night snack, it is time to make yourself some spaghetti squash spaghetti. Redundant? Nope. Here is what you do:
Make fork holes around your spaghetti squash. Place it on a microwave-safe plate, cook for five minutes. Rotate the plate and spaghetti squash, and cook for another three to five minutes. Yes, your spaghetti squash will be spitting and whistling (this is what you need the fork holes for). Let it cool for about five minutes. Cut the spaghetti squash open, scoop out the seeds (throw them away), and scrape out the meat with a fork. Top the spaghetti squash with your favorite sauce and enjoy!
Now, I know I was discussing convenience before. Convenience is very important when it comes to cravings. Therefore, it is always a good idea to cook the spaghetti squash in advance, and portion it out. Cooked spaghetti squash can last up to a week in the refrigerator. By replacing your pasta for spaghetti squash, you will cut nearly 200 calories from your late night snacking!
#2) Lay Off the Sugar
Look what we have in here: cookies and milk! The after-dinner, after-desert sweet tooth has taken over. The belly monster is growling at you, and all you can think about is brownies! It’s enough to make you want to tear your hair out.
Of course we are reaching for the sweets. They are so tempting, because they are so convenient. See, the cookies are already made. If I go to eat something else, it would take too long. I understand. However, it is essential that you find lower-calorie ways to satiate your sweet tooth.
If a late night chocolate attack is your vice, I have just the thing. Now, I’ve written before about the joys of dark chocolate almond milk. An eight-ounce glass is only 100 calories, and you can control your intake. Additionally, it feels as though you are drinking concentrated chocolate.
However, if you aren’t into almond milks or you are just afraid to try it, there are other substitutions that you try when you absolutely must have chocolate and sweets.
Having a glass of regular milk with chocolate in it is a great start. While the calorie count is around 170 for an eight-ounce glass, it is still better than hitting up a bag of mini-Snickers.
Additionally, reaching for dark chocolates is much better for your body and your calorie counter than candy bars and cookies.
If you need the cookies, consider what makes you want the cookies: taste, texture, and sweetness. While it might not seem appealing, grabbing some rice cake snacks (mini rice cakes with different flavors) can really drop the calorie count. I prefer the caramel ones when I have a sweet tooth. In these rice cakes, I get my sweetness, texture, and a great taste. While the transition does take a little getting used to, it will cut your calories in half for your late night snack.
#3) …Accompanied by Hot Tea
I will admit it, ladies, there are times when I cannot be satiated at night. Everything I eat seems to drop into an empty pit. I keep getting up and scanning the pantry for something else. It can be overwhelming, because I am aware of my calorie intake, but I am also aware that I need more food in my belly.
A great way to kick this terrible feeling is to make yourself a cup of hot tea (any flavor you want) to accompany your late night snacking. A cup of hot tea without sugar is a zero-calorie way to fill your stomach while giving it a warming sensation. That bottomless pit feeling is your stomach’s way of telling you that you need to be soothed, and your mind’s way of tricking you into thinking that only food can do it.
Make yourself a cup of hot tea. If you add a little bit of honey for sweetener, you will only add about 50 calories; which is a heck of a lot better than the hundreds you would consume trying to fill that pit.
Our bodies talk to us in many different ways. Sometimes, our stomachs try to take control—especially late at night. If your stomach demands certain foods late at night, remember the replacement options that you have to help you keep your calorie counts down. Kick the carbs, avoid the sugar, and add a spot of tea. What are some ways you can lower your calorie count late at night? Share with us in the comments below!