How To Beat Late Night Snacking Once And For All!
Another good word for mindfulness is awareness. Keeping track of your food can be a great strategy for managing both your diabetes and your diet! Keep a mini journal in your bag or car (or use your phone!), and write down everything you eat and when you eat it. Not only will this help you keep your carbohydrate intake controlled throughout the day (which is important for blood glucose management), but you'll hold yourself accountable for the snacking you might forget about later in the evening.
As you get used to keeping track of what you eat, try writing down how you feel or what you're thinking when you eat. Are you feeling tired? Stressed? Celebrating? Are you hungry, or are you eating for some other reason? Logging your mindset when you eat can help you understand the real reason behind your late night snacking.
Out of sight, out of mind
Keep high-calorie temptations out of the house by not buying them in the first place! This includes avoiding buying them for your partner, kids, significant other or roommates. Have them keep it at their house, or, if you live with them, have a conversation about how this will help you manage your health. They will hopefully be supportive of your decision.
If you do have tempting snacks in your kitchen, keep them in inconvenient locations, such as the top cabinet that requires a step stool to reach, or the very back of the freezer behind the frozen veggies and fruit. Keep the lights in the kitchen off at night to make them more difficult to grab. The inconvenience factor can help deter spontaneous snacking, causing you to ask, "Is it REALLY worth the extra effort?"
Replace food with something else / keep your hands busy
It may be that you like having something to do with your hands while you're watching TV or a movie, reading a book, scrolling through your phone or computer, or working. Evaluate if you are feeding a feeling like stress, sadness, happiness or boredom. Then try replacing the snack with something else, like a cup of tea (with a spoon to stir it around, so both hands are occupied) or glass of water, a game like a Rubik's cube, or a pen and notebook to doodle or jot down notes or ideas. If you still feel like you need something to do with your mouth (and you aren't hungry), try chewing sugar-free gum. It may be difficult or feel strange at first, but over time, reaching for your mug to make tea or picking up your game or notebook instead of reaching for a snack when you get that urge to do something with your hands at night (or any other time of the day) will become a habit!
Break/change the habit
Whatever the reason behind your late night snacking, if you do it consistently, you've likely created a habit out of it. Luckily, current habits can be broken, and new habits can be formed. Be aware of the habit you want to change. If you tend to forget that you want to change it until after you've already started doing it, try setting an alarm on your phone for about half an hour before you would normally grab a late night snack, to remind yourself not to – and to try one of these tips instead! For example, if you usually get up to grab a bag of chips while you're watching TV, set an alarm for around the time you sit down to watch TV. Once you've done it consistently for some time, your new healthy late night routine will become a habit, and you'll do it without even having to think about it anymore!
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your diabetes?