Quinn on Nutrition: Loosen the grip of late-night snacking

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A woman who wished she was thin,

Fought hard to resist her snack bin.

When she wanted to eat,

She’d say to her feet

Walk away from this place that you’re in!

___

Hello Barbara; I’ve been trying to lose weight. I do good during the day but in the evening and into the night I feel like I have to eat, and sometimes I do not make good choices. I’m diabetic. I would like to know if there is a way to curb these late-night eatings. — Carolyn

Dear Carolyn,

You’re definitely not alone. Almost 3 out of 4 adults in our country are now tipping the scales in the overweight or obese range. And it’s true that when we eat affects our ability to “lose” the hold of fat on our bodies so we can lose weight.

You say you “do good” during the day. I’m not sure what that means. Do you skip breakfast? Many people who snack at night are not hungry when they wake in the morning. This can perpetuate a habit of not fueling your body during the day when you need it and then eating too much at night when you don’t need it.

Most of the people in the National Weight Control Registry who have lost weight and maintained it for more than 5 years, for example, report eating a morning meal. Breakfast eaters also report getting more physical exercise during the day. Makes sense.

What you eat at each meal is also important. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity looked at what happened when two groups of overweight adults ate a low-calorie diet of equal calories. The only difference was that one group ate two eggs for breakfast while the other group ate a bagel. Even though the calories were the same, after 8 weeks, the higher protein egg breakfast group lost 65% more weight and 16% more body fat than the bagel group.

Other studies confirm that a high protein breakfast actually helps keep us satisfied and less apt to snack later in the day. People with diabetes can also benefit from including protein at each meal.

If you have eaten three balanced meals during the day and are still craving snacks in the evening, you might consider setting a time after which anything with calories is “off limits.” This is a great time to discover flavorful teas or water beverages to sip on while you visualize your extra fat stores being burned away. Please note: Some people with diabetes do need a small snack at night, depending on the medications they take. Check with your diabetes care specialist before doing any long term fasting.

Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition” (Westbow Press, 2015). Email her at barbara@quinnessentialnutrition.com.)

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