Breaking Bad: How to Kick the Late Night Snacking Habit

by | Jul 16, 2014

Photo by nettsu

Whenever I ask people what the most difficult habit is for them to break, late night snacking is often the first thing they say. This doesn’t surprise me.

If you feel like a zombie every night when you get home from work, it’s because you pretty much are one. Even if you enjoy your job, you are still subject to countless stressors throughout the day that deplete your cognitive resources––especially those required for self-control. Without a well of willpower to rely on at the end of the day, our brains go into autopilot to avoid more heavy lifting.

For these reasons, more than at any other time of day our evening actions are guided by habit. All the cues and triggers around our home––the TV, computer, couch, etc.––guide us mindlessly to the pantry for the cookies, or the freezer for the ice cream, and we eat to our heart’s content (not our mind’s or stomach’s content, those guys stopped caring hours ago). Stopping doesn’t even occur to us. We just continue until the cookies are gone, or the carton is empty.

It makes sense that these late night eating habits are particularly difficult to kick. Bad food habits are hard to break as is, but at night we have even less self-control than at other times of day for reshaping them, so we usually don’t even try. These habits are also especially strong, since they are deeply entrenched through weeks, months and years of repetition.

So what should we do?

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For the Love of Food

by | Mar 14, 2014
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This is one of the best link roundups in a long while. Learn everything you’ve always wanted to know about protein and mortality, the real reasons habits are hard to build, and new guidelines for sugar intake.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).
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For the Love of Food

by | Feb 7, 2014
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week (also includes links from last week when I was stuck on a wifi-less flight) shivering is the new running, cheap food is elitist, and one daily soda raises heart risk even if you aren’t overweight.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).
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For the Love of Food

by | Jan 17, 2014
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week sugar hijacks your brain, the blood type diet is debunked, and exercise improves your work-life balance.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

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For the Love of Food

by | Sep 27, 2013
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week the psychology of why diets fail, the amazing audacity of sugar industry ads and the $12 caveman burger.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

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Food Labels: The Only Thing You Need To Know

by | Sep 23, 2013

Photo by {Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester}

It’s no secret that my favorite foods rarely have labels. Whenever possible I recommend starting with raw ingredients from the produce aisle, fish counter and butcher, and building your meal from scratch. Seasonal ingredients from your local farmers market are better still, and tastier to boot.

But I’m also aware that we don’t live in a perfect world, and sometimes we find ourselves in circumstances that aren’t particularly conducive to healthy eating. Eventually most of us will end up staring blankly at the back of a plastic container or cardboard box, wondering what evils will descend upon us if we choose this packaged morsel over another.

Food labels have become stupidly complicated, not to mention misleading. Instant oatmeal mixes have “30% more protein” (huh?). Several brands of granola and crackers at my favorite health food store include “love” on their ingredient list (how is this legal?). Products without any animal-based ingredients proudly showcase that they’re “cholesterol free,” as if it were possible for plants to produce cholesterol (or dietary cholesterol even had a measurable impact on your health). And sometimes it seems like every processed food under the sun has the American Heart Association’s stamp of approval (Thanks guys, real helpful.).

Don’t kid yourself, these labels are not about health. They’re about selling more food at higher prices. The data consistently show that people (that includes you and me) are willing to pay more for a product if we think it has a special health benefit. Unless the system changes, expected to be bombarded with misleading food labels for the rest of time.

Fortunately, navigating the insanity is fairly simple.
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Sugar’s Sweet Spot: How to Eat Less Without Saying No

by | Aug 21, 2013

Photo by pamlau.com

Last week I explained how restrictive dieting makes losing weight harder than it needs to be, not easier. But one reader wondered how my advice about limiting sugar and processed foods jives with this concept:

You say that mainstream diets encourage nutritionism and cut out groups of food like fat, gluten and sugar. However, much of what you discuss also encourages limiting sugar. How do you differentiate the two?

Am I hypocrite or trying to pull a fast one? Is this just a matter of semantics? As usual in biology, the truth is more complicated.

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For the Love of Food

by | Aug 2, 2013
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week vitamin supplements are accused of causing cancer, real food gets defensive, and fruit (sugar and all) is still good for you.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

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For the Love of Food

by | Jul 19, 2013
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week a huge jump in life expectancy for NYC, chewing affects nutrient absorption and the chemicals in cosmetics.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself)

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Wedding Worries and Weight Loss: Eating for the Big Day

by | Apr 3, 2013
Photo courtesy of Ryan Vance

Photo courtesy of Ryan Vance (to make her dance)

Almost every bride I’ve known has put herself on some sort of special eating regimen in preparation for the big day. Though weight loss is often the goal, it is certainly not the only reason both brides and grooms should eat well on their path to the altar.

As a longtime foodist, I was not even remotely concerned about fitting into my dress. It fit beautifully, and I expect it will fit this time next year as well.

My biggest concern leading up to the big day was stress management. I almost never get sick, but with the pressure of a book launch and impending nuptials it has been harder than normal to get a restful night’s sleep. The last thing I wanted was to come down with the flu or some other bug from all the stress and travel.

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