Snacks are your body’s natural self-defense against eating until you’re infected with a virus of regret. They’re the little inbetweeners who help you get through the energy troughs you feel after your main meals. While seemingly insignificant, snacks do make a massive difference to your health. Forge a modestly calorific bad habit and it can easily get repeated daily. Then weekly. Then yearly. Suddenly, that pithy little 3pm candy bar habit makes you 10 pounds overweight. It adds up. That’s all from one daily action that you probably didn’t even think much about. Your brain loves to simplify things. The less processing power it requires to decide, the better. It thrives on energy efficiency. When a task can be automated and coupled with a reward, it will get repeated. Snacking included. Fortunately, if you’ve slipped into a robotic snacking habit that isn’t serving you, all you might need to change are your sleeping habits.
The power of shut eye
Sleep. Why would you ever do too little off it. After all, it’s probably the only place where you’re a fire breathing dragon who eats giant marshmallows. Except you do. You love to be awake. It’s more exciting, but also more detrimental to your health, says a new paper in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. People who slept less than seven hours a night had poorer snacking choices than those who got more than eight hours. You might think this is thanks to smart things like hunger hormones being moderated after more sleep. In a way, that’s true, but the researchers reasoning is far simpler. If you’re awake longer, you have more time to make poor snacking decisions. It’s a numbers game. And at night you’re more likely to quaff down convenience foods or drink your calories.
The nightmares of late nights
Staying up late has its own rewards. It’s probably the only time you get to yourself. Kids are in bed. Work is done. Exercise is completed. The to-do list has all been ticked off. It’s also a dangerous time in each day. In fact, The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research found getting less than 7 hours sleep a night increases your risk of gaining weight, obesity diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Ouch! Those are some stiff penalties for squeezing a few more hours out of your day. Every minute you’re not in your bed, you risk spending that time in your kitchen foraging for unhealthy snack foods that could mean your big final sleep comes sooner.
What can you do? There’s a three-pronged attack that you can deploy. First, you can set a bedtime alarm that tells you 15 minutes before your sleep time to start getting ready to tap out for the day. If you don’t think that will work, then fill your cupboards with only healthy snacks such as protein bars or cookies. Lastly, you can also remove all poor-quality snack foods from your house. This tactic will remove all temptation to overeat the wrong foods when you’re at your most vulnerable: tired and hungry. If you can get over going to bed a little hungry, you will be rewarded with waking up feeling more rested because your digestive system will have had a break while you kip. Use these rules to break the habit of late-night snacking. It will fire up every part of your day and help you attack your mornings so you’re always producing results.