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One of the worst times you can eat is at night. Yet, our society forces this upon you with “late-night happy hour” abandon. How many nighttime activities can you think of that don’t include at least an offer for food and/or drink? However, this is the last thing your body needs before it shuts down for 8 hours of sleep. Here are some tips to make it easier to adhere to the “3-hours-before-bedtime” rule-that is, the “no-food-3-hours-before-bedtime” rule.

1 Make a ritual. The easiest way to not eat (or drink) is to get yourself into a pattern that doesn’t include eating or drinking. No matter what you decide to try, continue long enough that it becomes habit. Then, eating and drinking will feel like the wrong thing to do instead of the norm.

2 Stretch out. Stretching at night is beneficial in many ways. Stretching out those muscles that you’ve used all day long helps you both recover and sleep better. It will also help you not eat, since eating is usually the last thing you feel like doing while stretching.

3 Work. If you’ve eaten at night, why not use up those calories and get some work done before hitting the hay? You can challenge yourself in this way by adding an amount of time that you’ll work for each drink or hors d’oeuvre that you give in to.

4 Work out. This one requires that you learn about yourself because some people can’t sleep if they work out at night. I’m not like that, so I’ll often replace a night out with a night in the gym. Or, if I’ve eaten too much, I’ll use a light workout to help digest some of those calories before winding down for the evening.

5 Read. Better than TV in so many ways, reading not only engages your brain (which burns calories), it makes it hard for you to snack. Getting into a book makes time fly, and before you know it, that “late” dinner will have happened hours ago.

6 Learn to love herbal tea. Its zero calories are the perfect nighttime snack, especially “sleepy” teas, like chamomile. It usually takes a little effort to trick your brain to truly enjoy tea. But once you do, the positive effects of warmed herbs that will ease you into sleep mode can be addicting themselves and turn going to bed into a meditative and scrumptious affair.

And finally, a note about your TV. Let’s be honest. Most of us watch a lot of TV. The average American watches over 3 hours per day. And while it’s often the case, your television doesn’t have to derail your fitness goals. You can use this time to do other-beneficial-stuff, too. Stretching and TV go together like peanut butter and chocolate, with the opposite effect. And since none of us claims to enjoy commercials, making a point of doing something else during these timeouts (dishes, cleaning, laundry, sit-ups, or anything active) can turn a night in front of the boob tube into a productive and healthy evening.

For more from Latwanas Stephens check out her personal blog and follow her on twitter

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