Do you suffer from this late night threat?

The Good Life Letter

4th September  2009

  • Do you suffer from this late night threat?

  • The snacks that are GOOD to have

  • Natural ways to quell cravings for your food and cigarette vices 

Do you remember that R.Whites advert - the secret lemonade drinker...?

It showed a man tiptoeing downstairs in his pyjamas, telling us he's trying to give up his craving for lemonade, before going to the fridge, pouring himself a glass, and happily guzzling it while he danced around the kitchen.

Well I have a confession to make... one that will come as a huge shock to you....

Do you suffer from this late night threat?

I used to be the same with late night snacks.

Most nights I'd shuffle over to the fridge, open the door, and be bathed in that ghostly light as I chose what to eat.

What do you mean you're NOT surprised?

Anyway, it hardly my fault.

You see, around midnight, something happens to the fridge...

Something evil.

It transforms itself from an innocent and useful tool into the worst friend you could ever have... one that whispers to you and persuades you to fill your body with unnecessary calories.

And even up till a few years ago, I used to obey.

Every night I'd go into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, then while the kettle was boiling I'd shuffle over to the fridge in a zombie-like state and open the door - just to see what was in there.

Of course I KNEW what was in there... lots of easy snacks I could fix up in a few seconds and eat while I watched The Sky at Night or some third rate film. But when I opened the door, I really had no idea what I was after.

I wasn't hungry. I didn't need anything. But a midnight snack just felt good.

And boy did I pile on the pounds. Because the snacks you're drawn to late at night tend to be the worst kind... cheese, salami, salty crackers, a slice of leftover dessert...

And of course, good old breakfast cereals made A LOT of late night guest-appearance. It's only in recent years that I've broken this habit, and it wasn't easy.

But snacks aren't only a threat when night falls...

These days, with time being at such a premium and people rushing around to get everything done, snacking has become part of people's lives - especially children's.

And the big companies have been quick to feed this need.

Lunch packs, Snax, salty fast-fix 'complete meals'... the supermarket shelves are swarming with easy solutions to fend off hunger.

And it's causing us problems... because this 'food' is bad.

For example, Dairylea have just been given a good telling off by the advertising standards authority for their Lunchables range.

They're the packs that contain a few tiny crackers, pale little discs of ham, and some processed cheese.

Sound delightful, don't they?

Dairylea seem to think so, because they advertise the Lunchables range as 'packed with good stuff'

But these ready-made snacks (aimed primarily at children) contain half a young child's daily salt intake. And none of them are low in saturated fat.

In fact, of the six varieties in the range, two have HIGH levels of saturated fat.

Where's the 'good stuff' in that that?

And I'm willing to bet that ANY of these ready-made snack boxes are oozing with just as many nasties as the Dairylea range.

So, if you're a zombie snacker and the call of the fridge is too great...

Sneaky snacks that are good to have

  • Make a huge fruit salad, then leave it in the fridge. Sometimes the appeal of snacking is simply the fact it's no bother. So make a big bowl of fresh fruit salad, and stick it in the fridge - right at the front where you'll see it immediately. When you come over all zombie-like and open the door muttering 'Yeeees master...' just grab the fruit salad and munch away.


  • Nuts - keep bags of unsalted nuts or fruit and nuts in an easy, visible place in the kitchen. Again, what could be easier than ripping open a bag of nuts and pouring the contents down your throat? I'm a master at it.


  • Pumpkin seeds are rich in minerals, essential fats and protein. Just a handful contains 20% of your zinc RDA and 50% of your magnesium RDA. Pumpkin seeds helps fight against prostate problems, kidney infections, and help build healthy bones.


  • Sunflower seeds - these seeds are packed with potassium, protein, iron and calcium... which sounds a lot better than 'good stuff saturated fats' to me!


So if you're feeling peckish - go for the healthy option.

But if you're feeling like a treat, go ahead and have one. But LIMIT it.

However if your guilty cravings aren't for food, but more along the lines of...


Then here are some tips for quelling those urges....

Natural tips for giving up smoking

Gotu Cola has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years in India. It is said to help control the imbalance in your body's chemical make-up that occurs when you have an addiction.

Gota Cola could also dull your sugar cravings, which go through the roof when you pack up smoking. (By the way, Gotu Cola does NOT contain caffeine, unlike the Kola nut, which is an active ingredient in the fizzy drink.)

Some naturopaths believe that St. John's Wort and the Chinese herb Scutellaria can lift depression and ease mood swings.

You can also try take magnesium...

When you absorb nicotine your brain releases a chemical called dopamine. This is a feel-good chemical. After a while, you get used to this pleasurable release, and want more of it. So you have another cigarette.

But by taking magnesium, you can increase your natural levels of dopamine, and take the edge of your cravings.

Another herb to look into is Ashwagandha. This is considered by many to be one of the most powerful and useful Ayurvedic remedies.

It's sometimes called "The Indian Ginseng". It improves immunity, and helps your body cope with chemical stresses - which is exactly what it's going through when you give up smoking.

I hope this helps with some of your vices. Look, I'm not one to preach. I'm as guilty as the next person of feeding my urges.

I'll be back again on Sunday....via the fridge!

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