Dark Cold Nights
Links mentioned in this lesson:
Dark, Cold Nights Don’t End with the Holidays!
There is something difficult about the holiday season that actually doesn’t go away for most of us when the New Year turns. Of course it depends what region you live in but if you’re like me, it’s dark early and super cold until March and sometimes April! It’s the time of year when it might be dark when you leave for work and dark when you get home. The time of year when the evening walks after dinner just can’t happen. It’s also the time of year when the brain thinks of things that provide comfort. It’s telling us, go get under a huge warm blanket and drink hot chocolate and watch tv and don’t forget the fuzzy socks. This is not all bad by the way because getting comfy and cozy is one of God’s greatest gifts! The trouble is when the bad habits try to nag at you because you are home, you are inside, and there is nothing getting in the way of you and the kitchen.
What are the secrets to success?
You might be waiting for me to give you all the secret tips and ideas. What foods can you keep in the house that aren’t that bad for you? How can you turn your brain off from thinking about food? Truthfully, the answer is all lot of things. It takes a variety of different weapons to fight back from the strong urges and temptations to snack at night. You might find that something works one night, and not the next. You just rotate through what can get you through the moment as you strengthen your ability to break the habit.
Breaking the snacking habit vs eating something “not that bad”
Truth be told the best case scenario if you’ve already eaten dinner, is that you only have fluids in the evening. I say this is the best case scenario because we are often quick to think of what we can have that’s “not so bad” which would be the second case scenario. Ideally, finding a way to change the patterns of your brain from thinking of food is the best outcome. Eating something, even if it’s not so bad, still keeps the habit in play. How can you get your brain to break the connection with food in the evening?
This is where you have to use all the tools in your toolbox. One idea: try to trick your brain with your evening routine. If you always sit in the same spot on the couch and tend to snack there, sit somewhere else. Or sit in another room. Rearrange the furniture, I know it’s crazy but tricking the brain is not easy. If you always wear the same sweat pants, you might put on workout pants instead. The brain is so good at routines, trying to shake it up can help break the bad routines.
Idea #2: when you want to take something away, it’s best to add something even better to help. Think about what you really enjoy doing or even better, someone you really enjoy talking to. Set up an evening phone call with that person. Buy a new card game. Plan your next vacation. The brain will give up on food if it has something even better exciting it.
Idea #3: If you’ve heard of brushing your teeth so you don’t eat, I have a better idea. Have you ever tried Listerine Strips? This is not a commercial for them but I just have to say. Those little strips pack a powerful punch and can help curb a craving.
Keep a backup plan
As I say, sticking with fluids is the best case scenario to truly breaking the habit. If you are in a weak moment and are going to eat SOMETHING, then have those better options on hand. A protein bar. A protein shake. Protein chips. Pumpkin whip or banana muffin in a mug, I will link the recipes below.
Other suggestions patients have had success with is to have a cutoff time when they don’t snack or when they go to bed. Or they have a goal of so many nights to not snack and give themselves grace on the other nights. If you are in a habit of snacking every night, you might make your goal to not snack two nights a week to start proving to yourself that it’s possible! You do not have to go cold turkey!
Unfortunately for many of us, dark cold nights are not restricted to the holidays BUT the holidays certainly make it harder because the temptations are easier to find. Do your best, be kind to yourself and remember what matters most in life is not what you ate that day.
Exercise when it’s cold
Finally a note on exercise in the cold months. Absolutely if you have a gym membership, have that gym bag packed. Set goals for how many times a week you want to get there and what you might give yourself as a prize for reaching the goals.
But if you struggle with getting home and not wanting to leave again, go to YouTube. At home workouts are a plenty and my personal favorite is Leslie Sansone walking videos.Thanks for watching, now go move some furniture!