The $30M Sandwich to Help You Beat Late-Night Snacking Addictions

John Young’s career was nothing short of extraordinary, boasting over 835 hours of spacewalking as NASA’s longest-serving astronaut.

However, even the most outstanding leaders aren’t immune to snack cravings, as evidenced by a peculiar incident involving a surreptitiously smuggled corned-beef sandwich, which nearly derailed his career.

Young, a consummate astronaut and unabashed foodie, snuck a 2-day-old sandwich into his spacesuit during the Gemini 3 mission in 1965. The sandwich’s appearance on the spacecraft surprised his commander, with their conversation recorded for posterity:

Grissom: “What is it?”

Young: “Corned beef sandwich.”

Grissom: “Where did that come from?”

Young: “I brought it with me. Let’s see how it tastes. Smells, doesn’t it?”

Unfortunately, they quickly discovered the perils of sandwich consumption in space as bread crumbs began to float around, threatening the spacecraft’s electronics and ventilation system.

This incident, humorous yet serious, led to a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations review. The sandwich was even tagged as the “$30 million sandwich”, reflecting the Gemini 3 mission’s estimated cost.

Young was warned, but couldn’t help a final jest:

“In any case, the sandwich was missing some ingredients. It didn’t even have mustard on it. And no pickle.”

From Space to Earth: The Snacking Conundrum

Just as Young smuggled a sandwich into space, almost half of us can’t resist the pull of snacks, particularly after dark. A 2022 Euromonitor International survey revealed that nearly 40% of Australians can’t help themselves and snack between meals!

Clearly, disrupted by the pandemic and flexible, hybrid lifestyles, our eating patterns have significantly shifted. But this is not a simple case of having more food available more of the time.

After all, our cravings, much like Young’s sandwich escapade, are influenced by complex biological cues. We’re naturally wired to seek energy-dense foods at night, a survival trait from times of food scarcity.

Additionally, when we’re tired, our bodies produce less leptin (the satiety hormone) and more ghrelin (the hunger hormone), further driving us towards unhealthy snacks at night.

Also, the ongoing exposure to blue light devices at night delays the release of melatonin, a hunger suppressing molecule.

However, these urges can be managed, and healthier habits can be instilled. 

7 Simple Strategies to Beat your Snacking Habit

1. Regular Meals:

Stick to consistent eating patterns throughout the day. This can help curb night-time overindulgence.

2. Understand Your Patterns:

Most clients I work with who struggle with snacking tend to fall into three categories:

  • Meal skippers during the day
  • Emotional eaters and drinkers
  • People with a genetic predisposition to night-time hunger.

3. Embrace the Pause:

When a late-night snack craving hits, resist the immediate urge. Instead, wait for 15 minutes and connect with the feeling. Is it hunger, boredom, loneliness, or fear?

4. Set a Dining Deadline:

Implement a hard rule to stop eating and drinking three hours before bedtime. Clear-cut decisions like this can facilitate behavioural change.

5. High-Fat and Low-Carb Dinner:

Consider this meal plan to manage blood sugar levels and control hunger.

6. Utilise Circuit Breakers:

Leverage deterrents like brushing teeth or sipping peppermint tea to switch your mind’s focus from snacking.

7. Change Your Routine:

If TV watching triggers late-night fridge raids, try switching it up. Replace the TV routine with reading in bed for a week.

Through managing these cravings, we can cultivate healthier habits.

Just as Young’s corned-beef sandwich led to changes in NASA’s safety protocol, can your late-night snacking pattern be the catalyst for a wellness review?