There you sit…alone in the dark, enjoying the latest episode of your favorite ‘guilty pleasure’ reality TV show. The only light in the room is the mind numbing blueish-white glare coming from your flat screen. Then you hear it…a low, deep ominous noise. You mute your television to make sure it wasn’t just Andy Cohen mumbling under his breath. (Gasp) There it is again. This time it’s longer and louder. What is that, you think. You move around your home, trying to locate the source. Could it be coming from the outside? Maybe it’s coming from the upstair neighbor’s place. There it is again! Your heart starts to beat faster. The hairs on your neck stand up as you realize…it’s coming from inside the house. What’s worse…It’s coming from inside your stomach! dun, Dun, DUN! (HAPPY HALLOWEEN!)
While my attempt at a “scary” story may not have had you trembling in suspense, it certainly is a horrifying part of my reality. Every nutritionist, trainer, and health advocate will tell you that eating late at night is a bad idea–that it’s sure-fire way to pack on the pounds because your metabolism slows as you sleep and your don’t burn those calories as efficiently as you would if you were awake. So why is it that almost without fail, around 10pm, I’m opening the refrigerator door looking for some sort of sugary, salty, chewy, crunchy, dopamine-releasing snack. Mmmm…dopamine. And I do my best to fight off the late-night cravings. I mean I literary have a debate with myself about why I shouldn’t succumb and how much better I’ll feel in the morning if I hold out. It usually goes something like this.
Inner Fat Girl: Man, a slice of chocolate cake would be awesome right now. Or some Doritos. Or M&M’s. Oooh, or maybe Doritos and M&M’s mixed together.
Me: No! It’s after 10. I shouldn’t be eating that crap at all, especially not this late.
Inner Fat Girl: You’re right. But something low-carb wouldn’t be so bad–like hot wings. You can have hot wings. Just stay up for a few more hours.
Me: Yummm, hot wings. And I could stay up. I’ll be fine on 5 hours sleep. *(shake it off)* Dammit! No. No hot wings, no cake. Drink some water.
Inner Fat Girl: *(screw face)* Really? Water? You don’t want no freakin’ water. You want a milkshake.
Me: Ohmygod, I do want a milkshake. Oh! Or an Oreo Cookie Blizzard. Arrrgh! Damn you. I won’t do it. I’m stronger than this. I can do this.
Inner Fat Girl: You’re right! I shouldn’t have pressured you. You’re doing great, and we can get through this together. …How bout some garlic, parmesan popcorn?
Shamefully, I almost always give in. The idea of going to bed hungry evokes a very negative reaction in me–like I’m being punished for something. (Not that my parents ever punished me in that way, but I’ve heard that on T.V.) It’s also part of a larger, fundamental issue that I struggle with. Having been on diets (on and off) for 20+ years, I have a serious aversion to denying myself anything. If I want it, I typically have it. I don’t like the notion of restricting myself. Clearly that hasn’t worked well for me thus far, so in order to create change in my physical appearance, I’m going to have to change my approach to eating. And denying my cravings is going to be a significant part of that.
Moderation would be the ideal way of handling these things, but that’s something I’ve never quite gotten the hang of. For example, I recently discovered my new favorite treat–organic carob-peanut clusters–not unlike Goobers, but with carob rather than chocolate. It just might be the most delicious thing I’ve had all year. (Doesn’t take much to please me when it comes to food.) But instead of having one or two clusters, I tend to eat 10-12. And I may have driven to the grocery store as many as 3 times in one week to re-up my stash. Don’t judge me. *hangs head and whispers* I need help. This is certainly NOT moderation. More akin to gluttony.
So as of the last week or so, I’ve been doing the unthinkable, ignoring my inner fat girl and actually moderating my consumption of all things delicious. Unfortunately, I still eat after 9pm simply because my work/class schedule dictates that I either eat at 9pm or 4pm. And while I’m no spring chicken, I’m not a senior citizen either. The ‘early bird special’ is not what’s up. But I usually don’t fall asleep until around midnight, so that’s 3 hours for the meal to digest. I also try to make the 9pm meal the smallest of the day, so there aren’t as many calories to burn in the first place. It’s not ideal. But it’s all I got for now. If any of you have suggestions or recommendations, feel free to share them!
At the end of the day, (literally), the late night snack is a fact of life. And without Mrs.Garrett around to guide me, it’s just one of those things that I’m gonna have to deal with as best I can. I’m doing well this week. I’musing a personal calorie tracker on livestrong.com and it’s quite useful. It helps me keep track of everything I eat and how many calories I’ve burned. So whether I eat at 6pm or 10pm, as long as I’m under my goal for the day, I’m good. And that feels better than hot wings taste. 🙂