A strong evening routine can make a big impact on your weight loss journey and your overall health.
The evening is usually the witching hour for so many people when it comes to cravings and poor eating.
You may wonder why that is.
For many people, the evening is so challenging for two main reasons.
One is that our hormones may be promoting hunger and cravings.
The other reason is that for many of us, our willpower is at its lowest at the end of a long day.
So, what can you do to offset the hormonal drive to eat, coupled with low willpower?
First, you should be aware that good habits are the antidote to low willpower.
So, it will be important for you to slowly, but surely, build up some routines that offset these challenges.
How do you build solid habits?
When you are starting any new habit, always be sure to start with small, tiny changes.
Second, you have to nourish yourself properly.
So many times, we approach healthy eating and weight loss backward.
We think we should STOP all the bad things first.
But that is the hardest and least effective way to make permanent changes.
Actually, what you need to do is START with nourishing your body, mind, and spirit.
That is because so many times we are driven to eat poorly or engage in other unhealthy habits because we are not satisfied.
When the body is physically not satisfied we have food cravings.
When the brain, mind, or spirit is not satisfied, we tend to crave food or alcohol or engage in bad habits like staying up late or ignoring our bodies.
So, as you are considering some of these nighttime routines, think of how you can nourish first and also make sure you start with tiny habits that are so easy, you can't talk yourself out of doing them.
- Eat a satisfying and nutrient-rich dinner.
- If you tend to struggle with nighttime snacking, have a treat soon after dinner.
- Stop all eating 3 hours before bedtime.
- Find a nourishing practice that satisfies your emotional, intellectual, or spiritual needs.
- Ride the waves of cravings.
1. Eat a satisfying and nutrient-rich dinner
First make sure you eat enough protein, healthy fat, and fiber at your dinner.
Not eating enough protein is a very common cause of nighttime cravings.
It is also popular to think we shouldn't eat "carbs" at night.
That can be troublesome for some people because a low-carb dinner can drive more carb cravings (and can negatively affect sleep).
2. If you tend to struggle with nighttime snacking, have a treat soon after dinner.
Many of us already have the ingrained habit of nighttime snacking when we're not hungry.
This is a bad habit that can really, really make weight loss difficult.
How do we break this bad habit?
One way to start is to allow yourself to have a treat soon after dinner.
This will satisfy that inner dialogue that says that you "need" a treat at the end of the day.
If nighttime eating is a challenge for you, I recommend starting off with eating the same thing you normally snack on later in the evening.
So, if you typically eat dinner at 7 PM and ice cream at 9 PM, move the ice cream to just after dinner.
Make it "dessert" rather than a snack later on.
This will start you in the right direction.
As you become accustomed to this, you can gradually begin to switch out the ice cream for more nutritious desserts like homemade naturally sweetened cookies, popcorn, yogurt with berries, or fruit.
Again, gradual change is much easier and usually much more sustainable than drastic change so start small and be kind to yourself.
3. Stop all eating 3 hours before bedtime.
One of the worst things you can do to stop weight loss is to eat late in the evening.
Eating after 8 PM interferes with a key weight management hormone called leptin.
It also raises your insulin at a time when your insulin should be declining for the night.
Both of these hormonal factors can really put a dent in your weight loss progress because they will slow down the key activity of fat-burning that is supposed to occur as you sleep.
Also, eating later in the evening can negatively impact your sleep.
It may be hard for you to imagine not eating 3 hours before bed.
But if you follow steps 1 and 2 above, it will make it a lot easier for you.
4. Find a nourishing practice that satisfies your emotional, intellectual, or spiritual needs.
The evening is when we get to decompress from the day.
We often may feel tired, frustrated, burnt out, or just have regrets from the day.
It is just the time for many of us to look forward to the ONE comfort that doesn't ask anything from us: FOOD.
But what if the evening was a time that you looked forward to because you were stimulating your mind with a fun hobby, engaging in a soothing practice such as prayer, meditation, or a hot bath, or entertaining your mind with a great book?
Some nourishing evening routines could include:
- Hot shower or bath
- Lighting candles
- Listening to soothing or relaxing music
- Gentle stretching
- Learning a new skill
- Playing an instrument
- Speaking with a loved one
These kinds of routines can be incredibly powerful tools to stop bad nighttime habits.
Stop using food as your comfort and find other ways to nourish your brain, mind, and spirit.
5. Ride the waves of cravings.
Once you implement steps 1-4 you may find that your nighttime cravings have magically disappeared.
But sometimes these habits are so ingrained, they are with us for many years, despite our best efforts.
When that is the case, there is one special tool I would like for you to know about.
And that is to accept the cravings and not indulge them.
Please do not try this until you have consistently implemented all of the 4 steps above!!
But if you have and you're still having cravings, then it's time to ride the wave!
How this works is that when a craving comes, you say to yourself, "I am having a craving and that is okay. It's also okay for me to not act upon that craving. This craving will pass soon."
This is not some crazy tool that I made up.
It has actually been shown to be an effective tool for weight loss.
The key is to make sure you are nourishing your body, brain, mind, and spirit first.
Don't forget that part!!
These 5 routines can really help you with your weight loss efforts.
If you feel that you need help implementing any of them, we can help!