Stop Eating At Night With These 10 Tricks
You had a healthy breakfast, a balanced lunch, and a nutritious supper. But now it’s late in the evening and you find yourself wanting to do nothing except sit on the couch with some snacks and your favorite show.
Many people fall into the habit of eating late at night, even if they aren’t actually hungry. And let’s face it – most of us aren’t reaching for celery or lettuce to munch on as our evening snack!
This nighttime eating can lead to mindlessly consuming hundreds of extra calories and cause the scale to start creeping up.
10 Tips For Avoiding Eating At Night
Here are 10 tips for avoiding late-night eating so you can stay on track to being as healthy as possible.
1. Identify the Triggers
People reach for food for many reasons besides actual hunger. It may be helpful to pinpoint specific patterns that lead up to your nighttime eating.
One helpful tool to try is keeping a food diary where you track your eating and exercise habits along with your feelings. Identifying and monitoring any patterns can help you realize what is tempting you to eat at night and put you one step closer to stopping it.
2. Identify the Cause
One potential cause of nighttime eating is overly restricted food intake during the day. Eating between supper and the time you go to bed may also be a result of habit, stress, sadness, or boredom. Pay close attention to the reasons behind your nighttime eating and you will empower yourself with the knowledge to stop it.
3. Start a Routine
If you find that overeating at night happens because you did not eat enough during the day, a routine might help get you back on track.
Structuring your meal and snack times, as well as your sleeping times, can ensure that you spread your food out in an appropriate way throughout the day to avoid being ravenous at night.
Adequate sleep is crucial when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight and making healthy food choices. Too little sleep has been linked to poor quality food choices and higher calorie intake.
Having set eating and sleeping routines can help ensure you get balanced meals during the day to curb nighttime hunger while also getting enough sleep at night to help fight cravings.
4. Plan Your Meals
As part of your eating routine, you may benefit from planning your meals. Planning your snacks and meals can help you avoid making unhealthy, impulse choices.
5. Cut the Stress
Stress is a common reason for eating without actually being hungry. If you notice high levels of stress tempting you to snack at night, try to find healthier outlets for managing your emotions and relaxing.
Some stress-busting options include:
- Hot baths
- A good book
- Gentle exercise
- Time in nature (a walk outside doubles as time in nature and exercise!)
- Breathing exercises
6. Eat Regularly Throughout the Day
Eating according to your routine (as mentioned above) during the day can help stabilize blood sugar levels, prevent irritability, decrease perceived lack of food, and prevent ravenous hunger, all of which can lead to unnecessary eating.
Becoming overly hungry makes you more likely to reach for high-sugar, high-fat, junky food choices.
Studies have shown that individuals with regular meal times (described as eating 3 or more times per day) weigh less overall and have better appetite control.
It is important to work to find the routine and meal times that work best for you and help you feel the most balanced and satisfied.
7. Include High-Quality Protein at Every Meal
Different foods affect your appetite differently. Protein is notorious for its ability to help keep you satiated for longer amounts of time. Including high-quality protein at every meal may help keep your hunger in check.
By consuming adequate amounts of protein and staying more satisfied throughout the day, it may help prevent you from being preoccupied with food at night.
One study found that eating high-protein meals at regular intervals throughout the day reduced cravings by a whopping 60% and reduced the desire to eat at night by half!
8. Avoid Keeping Junk Food In Your House
If you know you are prone to reaching for unhealthy snacks at night, avoid keeping them in your home.
You are far less likely to eat unhealthy snacks if they just aren’t around. Sure, it’s easy to reach for a bag of chips or cookies in the pantry. But do you want snacks badly enough to hop in the car and drive to the store to get them? Chances are, the answer is no.
Instead, fill your pantry and fridge with healthy go-to snacks so that you only have healthy options available. Some great options include:
- Fresh veggies (carrot sticks, cauliflower, sliced cucumber, snap peas, sliced bell peppers) and dip
- Fresh berries or other fruits
- A small serving of nuts (walnuts, pistachios, pecans, etc.) and a small piece of feta cheese
- A square or two of high-quality dark chocolate
- Plain yogurt or cottage cheese
These snacks are filling thanks to the fiber and vitamins they contain. As a bonus, fresh veggies offer the satisfying ‘crunch’ factor.
9. Distract Yourself
If boredom is the main cause behind your desire to reach for snacks at night, then it is important to find an alternative activity to keep your mind occupied.
Finding a new hobby or planning evening activities can help prevent mindless late-night snacking. Ideally, find a hobby that keeps your hands or body busy. Try knitting while you watch your favorite show, playing cards with your spouse or kids, taking an evening stroll, or working on a puzzle.
10. Drink Enough Water
It is well known that thirst can actually be mistaken for hunger. Be sure you are drinking adequate amounts of water throughout the day to help curb your cravings at night.
Bonus Tip: Plan to Snack at Night
Yes, we are including “snack on purpose at night” in an article devoted to “not snacking at night”. It may seem counterintuitive, but hear us out. Sometimes, restricting ourselves from something can actually backfire and make that certain thing (i.e. snacking at night) even more tempting.
Rather than tell yourself you will never eat after supper again, try planning a designated snack to enjoy later on. Try to make the snack healthy, satisfying, and avoid hyperpalatable foods that may lead to overeating.
A great option for a go-to snack is a pre-portioned option that allows you to indulge without overdoing it.
While having a small snack before bed certainly isn’t a big deal, consuming the majority of your caloric intake for the day or mindlessly snacking before bed can lead to a host of issues.
We hope you find these steps helpful. Let us know if you have any favorite ways to stay occupied at night or what your favorite go-to healthy snacks are.