It’s the end of the day, and you’ve done an epic job at staying on track with your diet! You grabbed a protein bar for breakfast, opted for a smoothie at lunch, and devoured a salad for dinner. Now, it’s just you, your sweats and the couch. As you settle back to unwind, a pizza commercial appears on your TV screen. Full color, high definition, piping-hot cheese. No biggie. You stare for a second or two, but you have your goals to keep you grounded. Onto the next advertisement – a fast food Mecca, waving its damn crispy, golden fries in your face. Okay, this one gets your stomach growling. Still, you’re on point with your plan to master a healthy lifestyle in 2021. Fast forward one hour and a dozen more food-related commercials later... OMG, you’re HUNGRY!
Listen, you’re not alone in the fight against primetime product pimping! The guys behind these food spots are good and they know how to racket up your temptation. On average, 11 of 19 commercials per hour push unhealthy grub. Of these ads, roughly 44% promote food from the fats and sweets category. This includes candy, soft drinks, chips, cakes, cookies and pastries. And let’s not forget the stakes the fast-food chains have in the game. They account for 11% of all food advertisements.
So, why do visuals of deep-fried, sugar-coated, salt-laced, grease-shined bites send us into a craving spiral? Well, these commercials are designed to hijack our body’s natural way of signaling hunger. In other words, they trigger mindless eating.
According to a study by the American Psychological Association, people eat 45% more after watching food advertisements. We do this whether we feel hungry or not! Obviously, there’s no way we’re all going to give up late-night TV forever. Instead, just remember my 5 Worst / Best Snack Tips when those 30-second spots spark the urge to raid the fridge or pantry.
WORST: ROLL PAST LEFTOVER PIZZA
It might look tempting, but anything that’s too greasy can cause heartburn. This is especially true when you lie down right after indulging. Between the blanket of cheese and the acidity of tomato sauce, a slice before bed sets you up for a long, uncomfortable night.
WORST: DITCH THE CHIPS
It’s so easy to rip into a bag and dive right in. The fat and salt, however, are a bad combo – especially as bedtime nears. Plus, it’s easy to get caught up in the crunch and have way too many. What usually starts out as a small treat ends up turning into a full-on binge! That’s bad not only for your waistline but also for your mood.
WORST: DROP THE COOKIES AND CHOCOLATE
Okay, we’ve all had that moment when we busted into the cookie
jar or candy drawer. While the sugar will give you a quick rush, the gratification doesn’t last long. First off, you’re perking up when you should be slowing down. Second, metabolizing the sweet stuff can cause issues with everything from increased hunger and weight gain to poor skin health.
WORST: SCRAP SUGARY CEREAL
The box might show a cartoon animal riding on a rainbow, but the fun stops there! This stuff is loaded with empty carbs, so don’t count on it to satisfy you for long. Also, it’s easy to power through several bowls, only to find yourself crashing hard in a glucose daze. If you’re in the mood for cereal, swap out your fruity, frosty, or cocoa flakes with a low-sugar, high-fiber variety.
WORST: DUMP THE SODA SHAME
You probably know to stay away from coffee in the wee hours, but watch out for certain teas and sodas as well. First, they really won’t quench your thirst. Second, high levels of these caffeinated drinks can spike anxiety and nervousness, decreasing the production of serotonin in the body. This is the natural “feel-good” chemical. Without the right balance, people can experience depression. It’s best to just cut off all caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime.
BEST: GOBBLE UP PROTEIN
Ready to roll up on the perfect nighttime snack?
Try a lettuce turkey wrap. They’re super easy to make, and you get an amazing crunch and balance with every bite.
RED’S PRO TIP: Add a pickle for texture and use all-natural turkey slices to avoid added sodium.
BEST: OMELETTES CRACK THE CRAVINGS
Egg white omelets: They’re not just for breakfast anymore!
These amazing kitchen creations hit the spot any time of day. Whether it’s sunrise or sunset, they’re delicious, versatile, and cook up fast. Depending on your hunger, you can add more or fewer veggies to the mix, making for a filling snack with very few calories.
BEST: BREW UP ZS WITH HERBAL TEAS
There are few beverages that can help you relax before bed like a cup of herbal (caffeine-free) tea. To ease into slumber, try chamomile, passionflower, or valerian. Peppermint also can have a calming effect, as long as you don’t tend to get heartburn.
BEST: POPCORN PERFECTION
Okay, guys, we’re not talking about a bucket of movie-style, dripping in butter and dredged in salt! Instead, puff up those kernels with an air
popper. There are multiple pros to this nighttime grub. One, the crunch gives you the sense of eating a less healthy, fried alternative (like chips, cheese curls, etc.). Two, popcorn is a whole grain, loaded with fiber. This means you’ll keep your appetite satisfied much longer. Lastly, it’s a GREAT interactive snack. The movement of reaching into the bowl (or bag) can help keep you from bored eating!
BEST: SHAKE THINGS UP
There’s nothing like ending the day with a treat that takes you back
to your favorite childhood ice cream shop. By adding just a few simple ingredients, you can make your protein shake one of your favorite, most nostalgic snacks. The key to getting it just right? Throw in ice, Greek yogurt, or even avocado for a creamier, thicker sip!
RED’S PRO TIP: Don’t buy cheap protein! If you don’t absolutely LOVE the texture and flavor, that jug will sit there forever