How to Win the Never-Ending Battle Against Late Night Snacking

Fighting off late night munchies can be a true battle. No matter how big of a dinner you eat, sometimes it’s too difficult to say “no” to snacking before bed.  If you are trying to sleep better or lose weight, avoid eating at least two hours before bedtime. Otherwise the food you eat will store as fat, rather than being processed or burned off (source: Dr. Hyman). If you struggle with late night eating, try these tips to curb bedtime snacking.

1- Eat breakfast. Having breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day, but not just any breakfast. Having a high protein breakfast will keep you satiated longer and energize you throughout the day. If you eat late, you might not be hungry enough in the morning to get the right breakfast you need to power through your day, so it’s important to break this cycle.

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2% Greek yogurt with fruit, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and bee pollen = lots of protein!

Some of my go-to, protein-packed breakfasts might include chia seed pudding, eggs (with the yolk!), a smoothie with proteins such as almond or peanut butter, chia seeds, hemp seeds, greek yogurt, or protein powder. I also like to add green vegetables to my breakfasts whenever possible. A meal like any of these really gives you the brain power you need, but also keeps your blood sugar levels steady throughout the morning. When my blood sugar levels take a dip, this is when I find myself so starved I’ll reach for anything in sight, no matter how bad it is for me. Eating some protein and healthy fats with every meal really makes a difference in your overall energy and health, versus eating no breakfast or something lacking in nutrition, like cereal or a bagel.

2- Drink water. When we are dehydrated, sometimes our minds will interpret that as hunger. Try drinking water when you feel a late night craving come on before you head to the kitchen for some snacks. I like to infuse my water with cucumber, lemon, fresh herbs, or berries. I find that I can drink much more water when I’ve infused it, especially with my favorite, cucumber.

3-Eat mindfully. Eating too quickly doesn’t give the body enough time to realize it’s full. Practice chewing your food and remember to breathe while eating. The more you chew your food, the more the food is broken down, which means it digests more easily in the stomach. This is a pro tip for weight loss!

4- Turn off the tv and go to bed! It’s really easy to eat mindlessly when eating while watching tv. On occasion, if it’s getting late and I find myself getting hungry again after dinner, I will actually just send myself to bed. If I continue to stay up, then of course I’m going to get a snack to fuel me. Try having that glass of water instead or some warm almond milk or tea, then hit the hay.

5- Identify areas of your life that may be out of balance. Snacking is often triggered by emotions. Think, for example, about the image of a girl (or guy) shoveling ice cream in her mouth after a bad breakup as an example. Whatever the trigger may be, even if it’s just craving dessert after dinner out of habit, try to identify what could be causing you to have unhealthy cravings. This may not even apply to food; it could be some sort of substance abuse too. Think about the quality of all your relationships, career, spiritual practice, finances, home environment, or exercise routine. How satisfied are you in each of these areas of your life? If any aspect of your life is missing or unsatisfactory, it’s possible that this could be causing you stress, which can then lead to late night binge eating or unhealthy habits. Once you’ve identified what’s stressing you out, take measures to make improvements and reduce any stress.

Here is an exercise for you to try to find balance that I use with my clients throughout their program. This is called the Circle of Life (source: Institute for Integrative Nutrition). On the circle there are a number of important categories listed, each one representing a major aspect of life that contributes to overall mental and physical health. Being satisfied in each of these categories is extremely important for living a well-balanced life.

Here’s what to do. Place a dot in each category of the circle. The closer your dot is to the outside of the circle, the more content you are with that area of your life. And the closer your dot is to the inside of the circle represents less satisfaction with that category. When you are done connect all the dots and see what areas of your life need nourishment. If your dots create a perfect circle when connected, then you should be living pretty much stress-free.

circle of life color

6- Identify your food sensitivities. We are typically allergic or sensitive to the foods we crave the most. For many people this is gluten or dairy. Experiment with an elimination diet, or just try removing these two food groups and/or sugar for a few weeks and see if you feel any improvements. After a few weeks of eliminating certain food groups, gradually add back one food group at a time for a few days to see if any symptoms (maybe even some you weren’t aware of before) return. Other foods that tend to cause sensitivities or allergies are corn, soy, alcohol, sugar, red meat, processed foods, or nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants, etc).

If you have experimented with these tips and are still finding yourself reaching for the cookies before bed, then replace those temptations with healthier options. I can recommend peanut butter with green apple, chocolate chia seed pudding, roasted salty chickpeas, or black bean brownies.

Please leave other suggestions in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you. If you’re interested in talking about how a health coach can help you eat better and improve your overall health, sign up for a complimentary 50-minute consultation with me!

Guilt-Free Chocolate Banana Avocado Cookies

Apologies, these cookies photograph like moose poop, but I promise they are amazing!FullSizeRender.jpg

I have a dangerous sweet tooth, especially for chocolate, and sometimes my go-to tricks to suppress my cravings just don’t work. It’s moments like these that I find it necessary to have two foods on hand, an avocado and a banana, so that I can quickly whip up a guilt-free dessert. I have another two desserts I love, my raw chocolate mousse and ,  that can be made with avocado and banana instead of using ingredients like sugar, milk or butter. The other thing I love about my raw chocolate mousse and these delicious chocolate cookies is that they take less that 15 minutes to make. Can’t beat that.

So these cookies were my first attempt. They came out delicious, but a little thin and gooey. Didn’t bother me one bit, but if you’re a burnt cookie lover, then maybe try baking yours longer than 12 minutes. These would actually pair incredibly well with vanilla ice cream, but since we’re being healthy, maybe make some banana ice cream instead or pour some almond milk over the cookies and eat with berries, or just enjoy the cookies on their own… you decide 🙂

Ingredients

-1 banana

-1 ripe avocado (but not brown on the inside)

-1 egg

-1/2 cup dark cacao powder

-1 scoop peanut butter (optional- I used Earth Balance peanut butter with coconut oil)

-1/2 teaspoon baking soda

-dark chocolate chips to taste

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Start by placing banana chunks and the avocado flesh in a food processor and mix. Next add the egg, baking soda, peanut butter (optional), and cacao powder. Continue to mix.
  3. Toss in some chocolate chips (also optional). Scoop the mix into balls and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the cookies are firm.

 

I adapted this recipe from Paleo Leap and made it my own.  I hope you enjoy!

 

Three Healthy Meals and One Dessert To Impress Your Guests This Holiday

It’s important to eat with the seasons, and with the cold winter months rolling in, it’s time to start eating warmer, more grounding foods. Below are four simple holiday recipes (also budget-friendly!) that should keep meal prep and cook times to a minimum so that you can fully enjoy your holiday season with friends and family. These dishes could either be served together as one delicious four course meal, or perhaps separately before the big Thanksgiving or holiday meal. I would serve the salad first, then serve the soup and vegetable galette together. Obviously save the dessert for last… or don’t!

Winter Salad

Featured image

-1 bag fresh spinach

-1 container of pomegranate arils

-1-2 handfuls of dried cranberries

-chopped pecans

-1 pear, diced

-feta cheese

-balsamic

1. Wash the spinach, pat dry and put into large salad bowl.

2. Add the pomegranate arils, cranberries, chopped nuts, pear and feta cheese. I like to add the juice from the pomegranate container.

3. Personally I find that the salad doesn’t need much dressing if you add juice from the pomegranate arils, but balsamic would be a good choice too. Serve and enjoy!

original recipe: autumn chopped salad

Roasted Carrot Soup

-6 organic carrots
-1 potato
-1 yellow onion
-4 cloves garlic
-chicken stock (I used veggie stock or you can just use water. You can also add a bullion cube or Italian seasoning for flavor)
-extra virgin olive oil
-salt and pepper
   1. Heat oven to 425 F. Peel the carrots and cut them into bite-size chunks. Cut the potato and onion into smaller chunks. Place the carrots, potato, onion and garlic in a baking dish with olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and roast for 10-15 minutes, until it starts to smell delicious.
    2. Remove dish and place the roasted veggies in a pot. Fill the pot with the chicken stock until it just covers the vegetables. Throw in a bullion cube if desired. Bring to a boil then reduce temperature to a simmer and cover with a lid for an hour.
    3. Place contents of pot in a blender and blend until it’s a smooth soup. Enjoy!
Vegetable Galette
(serves 2, or serves 4 as appetizer)
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-1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
-2 small, yellow squash cut into thin circles
-3 tablespoons pesto
-1/3 cup ricotta cheese
-extra virgin olive oil
-salt and pepper
-flour or whole wheat flour (could also use a GF flour, like coconut flour)
   1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
   2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter or on a cutting board. Lay puff pastry sheet out on top of the flour. Use a rolling pin to spread the sheet out a bit.
   3. Spread ricotta over the puff pastry sheet. Then the pesto.
   4. Lay the thinly cut squash circles on top of the ricotta and pesto. Fold up the sides of the puff pastry.
   5. Drizzle with olive oil. Salt and pepper the squash.
   6. Put in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
original recipe: The Forest Feast, by Erin Gleeson
And finally, for dessert…
Black Bean Brownies
(boyfriend approved!)
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-1 15oz. can beans, drained, rinsed well and patted dry
-2 large eggs
-3 tablespoons coconut oil
-3/4 cups cacao powder
-1/4 teaspoon sea salt
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 cup raw sugar
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking power
-optional: chocolate chips or crushed nuts
   1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
   2. Lightly grease a baking dish (8×8 works)
   3. Add beans to a food processor and puree. Then add the remaining ingredients, except the optional chocolate chips and nuts.
   4. If the batter seems too thick, then add a little water and pulse again. The batter should not be too runny.
   5. Distribute the batter into the greased dish and add optional chocolate chips and nuts.
   6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Your brownies are ready to serve!  I poured a little unsweetened almond milk over mine to give them a little moisture. Enjoy!
original recipe: black bean brownies

Guilt-Free, Raw Chocolate Mousse in Five Minutes

This chocolate mousse recipe is a quick, five minute dessert that’ll satisfy your cravings without making you feel guilty.  Instead of loading up on egg yolks, cream, and sugar, this recipe is raw and substitutes those less healthy ingredients for healthy avocado and banana.

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Ingredients:

-1 banana

-1 avocado

-4 tablespoons raw cacao powder

-3 tablespoons organic coconut oil

-2 tablespoons honey or stevia (optional)

-1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions:

1. Place ingredients in a food processor and process until very smooth (there’s no over processing with this dish!)

2. Spoon mousse into serving bowls and refrigerate for an hour before serving.  Top with fresh berries if you like!

Health Benefits of Honey

To some, honey may seem like a “naughty” sugary treat, grouped in with white sugar or sweeteners.  Really though, honey is a fantastic superfood to incorporate into your diet, as long as you know the right honey to buy.

honeyDue to diet, our environment, and stressful, crazy lives, lots of us rely on coffee or caffeine to get through the day. Sometimes, often around 3PM, I know I find myself nibbling on chocolate for the energy boost, but some hot tea with honey or toast with honey are much better ways to get that energy I’m hoping for.  In the mornings I like to add honey to my breakfast smoothies before or after a workout, because honey boosts performance and endurance and reduces muscle fatigue.

Honey is a powerful immune system booster.  It’s antioxidant properties help the digestive system and aid in cancer prevention. I like to put some honey in my tea or hot water with lemon, especially if I’m sick or have a sore throat. So soothing.  For centuries people have used honey to repair cuts and burns also.  Other health issues honey can help with are allergies, arthritis, yeast infections, athlete foot, and trouble sleeping.  Honey reportedly helps hangovers too!

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My morning smoothie. Organic strawberries, banana, a couple handfuls of spinach, 2% Greek yogurt, almond milk, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, and organic, locally-harvested bee pollen.

In India, Ayurvedic medicine has used honey for thousands of years for healing and balancing the body.  Ayurvedic medicine reports that honey improves eyesight, weight loss, cures impotence and premature ejaculation, urinary tract disorders, bronchial asthma, diarrhea, and nausea (Source: care2.com).

unnamed-2There’s some debate about the practices used to harvest bee pollen.  Bee pollen is loved by health enthusiasts for its superfood qualities and high levels of protein.  My photo above is actually of my bee pollen, but I bought it straight from the bee keeper at my local farmers market and was aware of his practices.  I have read that collecting the pollen can involve the death of large numbers of bees, but that’s something I need to research more.

So now that I have you convinced as to why you should eat honey, it’s important to know what honey to buy.  Go organic or locally-made and treat it as a medicine.  Stay clear of commercially-made honey.

Don’t:

-Don’t buy honey made outside of the U.S. Honey made in places like China is often mixed with other syrups.

-Don’t buy the commercialized, pasteurized honey.

-Don’t use honey as a sugar substitute.

Do:

-Buy locally grown honey.

-Buy organic or wild, non-pasteurized honey.

-Use honey in small amounts as a superfood.

-Use as a medicine topically for cuts and burns.

(Source: Renegade)

How to Take Control of Your Sugar Cravings

Here’s my dirty secret…

I love chocolate. For a period of my life I ate dessert after nearly every dinner.  Sometimes I also binge on sweets late night.

I know I’m not the only one, right?

From a young age most of us are exposed to sugar, and man, that stuff is addictive!  I mean, literally.  I remember I grew up drinking Coca-Cola and eating sweets a lot (my dad wasn’t the best influence with this).  I’m not sure how I managed to ween myself off of soda by the time I got to high school, but it was a huge shocker for me when I got to college and learned that not everyone ate dessert every night after dinner.  I was used to having ice cream, brownies, cookies or candy all the time, and visiting my grandma was always a treat because she had about four drawers in her kitchen dedicated to chocolate. Her trick was that she trained her brain to realize that the chocolate would always be there and available, so she never needed to binge, and could just eat a little bit at a time.  This wouldn’t work for everyone and I know my will power isn’t that good. Recently, however, I’ve learned a tip for suppressing sugar cravings.  It has been remarkably helpful, so let me share.

Add naturally sweet vegetables to your diet to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Instead of depending on processed sugar, look to sweet vegetables to aid with sugar cravings.  Sweet vegetables soothe the body’s internal organs and energize the mind.  Root vegetables, which are often sweet, are also grounding, rather than creating that sugar high that inevitably ends in a crash.

Here are a list of sweet vegetables to try:

Sweet Vegetables: corn, carrots, onions, beets, winter squashes, sweet potatoes, and yams

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes; The Neelysgfg_root-veggies-cropped-300x241

Semi-Sweet Vegetables: turnips, parsnips, and rutabagas 

Other: Red radishes, daikon, green cabbage, and burdock (This list of veggies aren’t sweet, but have the same effect on the body by maintaining blood sugar levels, reducing sweet cravings, and breaking down animal foods in the body).

Eating fruits can also satisfy sugar craving, but try out some of the sweet vegetable options from above while also reducing the number of times you consume sweets.  Just remember, adding in sweet vegetables assists in crowding out less healthy foods in the diet.

I also find that sometimes when I think I’m hungry even though I shouldn’t be, late at night or after a big meal, for example, all I really need to do is drink some water.  Try having some water and waiting at least 15 minutes to see if your cravings pass.

If you still need your chocolate/sugar fix, there are also healthier recipes or snacks to buy, and just try to portion control by measuring out how much you want to allow yourself to eat.  If you’re snacking on M&Ms for example, pour some out of the bag into a small bowl, rather than eating the whole bag.

Here are a couple healthier sweet recipes to try out:

Frozen Banana Quinoa Bites

Pecan Pie Larabars

                                     Frozen banana quinoa bites   pecan-bars-FG

In case you hadn’t heard, here are some of the risks of eating too much sugar over time:

-obesity

-diabetes

-heart disease

-cancer

-weight gain

-non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

-teeth problems

Source: http://authoritynutrition.com/