You can stop late night snacking, it’s not as hard as you think. I know the frustration of succumbing to late night snacking. Learn these easy tips to break this bad habit!
Let’s face it, TV is so much better with crunch snacks, or sweet snacks, or really any snacks. And the worst of of them all, the sweet snack, salty snack rotation. Do you ever get lost in that craving?
It’s that vortex you fall into after you indulge in something savory and salty. And then a few minutes later you need something sweet to balance it out. All of a sudden, two snacks later you’re looking for something sweet again.
So it won’t surprise you, but alternating between the sweet and salty actually causes you to continue snacking. You continue to refresh your palette and avoid food fatigue that normally prevents you from overeating. Ultimately, you end up eating more food than you need and intend to.
Cause of Late Night Snacking
So a late night snacking habit is probably just a mindless habit to quell your boredom. Late night snacking is a symptom of late night boredom. The key to prevent the snacking is to prevent the boredom.
I get it though, you’re winding down, relaxing on the couch for a bit. You’ve wrestled the kids to bed, worked on your side hustle, made dinner, or simply just kept your family alive. And you need to chill. But here’s the issue: You put in all this work, all day. You ate right and stayed active, yet this hour of Netflix and chill could completely ruin that hard work.
Late Night Eating
Also, a quick note on late night eating (specifically not snacking). If you need to eat late, even right before bed, that is perfectly fine. There is no research that shows eating before bed increases weight gain or fat gain.
In fact, for some, eating before bed is a good idea. Pregnant women and people with blood sugar regulation can experience dips overnight. And eating before bed can prevent that early morning drop.
Also, if you workout late, work late, or have a unstable schedule, do not worry about having your final meal before bed. The best recommendation is to at least give yourself 1 hour before lying down after eating. Just to let gravity help your digestion a bit. If you need to get right to bed after eating, try taking a walk to jump start that digestive tract.
1. Always put leftovers away, don’t leave them out.
This is also a great portion control habit. I am a huge fan of bulk cooking and having leftovers. Whether it will be frozen, packaged for lunch the next day, or re-purposed for the next night’s dinner. I usually have way too much food. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left them out and continued snacking or eating beyond what I know I need.
Put your portion on your plate and immediately package up your leftovers. There is no need to leave them (it can cool in it’s container). You’re just more likely to snack and continue to eat if the food is right in front of you.
2. Change your habits.
Build a habit that keeps you active, distracted, and away from the fridge. I’m sure you’re routine is similar to mine. You work, work, work, make dinner, clean something, and between 9-10pm you’re ready to chill (most likely on the couch with the TV).
And here is the crux of the problem. You need to keep yourself distracted. The easy way is to eliminate the TV watching time entirely and replace it with a new hobby like sewing, painting, metalwork; walking; medication or journaling; yoga or stretching; reading, etc.
But if you enjoy your TV time, that is totally fine too. You just have to give yourself something to do, that does not include snacks.
I love crossword puzzles, they make me use my brain (I also love words). They’re perfect to keep my hands busy. I also enjoy embroidery and cross-stitch.
It’s so much easier than you think and super relaxing. But you could try word searches, Sodoku puzzles, regular puzzles, and other small games will keep you entertained and distracted enough not to reach for a snack.
They are also a great way to keep yourself sharp. I would steer clear from phone games, as occasionally they will have food advertisements or triggers that don’t make it any easier. And more time off of a screen is always a good idea.
3. Do not eat in bed.
If you don’t eat in bed, you won’t be tempted to bring snacks with you. This has been a hard and fast rule all my life. And only recently have I realized what a good rule this is to have. My parents were sticklers about no food in my bedroom.
My bedroom was on the second floor so this never seemed weird to me. Even in high school, I would have all my meals and snacks downstairs in the kitchen. Rarely did we even eat in front of the TV (I’m talking like once or twice a year when my dad was on work trips lol).
So this is a habit I’ve easily taken into adulthood. And now, I find the thought of food in my bedroom, and specifically in bed, as absolutely disgusting.
Make this a habit. That way you’re not tempted to lay in bed eating at night. It also makes your room a food free sanctuary that you can use to physically separate yourself from the kitchen.
For the nights I just want to watch a show without being tempted by snacks, I just take myself to bed. And I’m more likely to fall asleep sooner if I’m already in the bedroom.
4. Make tea.
Sometimes you just need something to hold and consume, and that’s okay. Making tea is a great option. There are so many types and flavors that I can guarantee you will find one you like.
There are tons of decaf options. And I always have a few different flavors on hand. One of our family favorites (and easiest) is “Lemon Tea.” The secret is that its just hot water and a slice or two of lemon. Guaranteed to make anyone a tea-lover.
It is also a great after dinner or stomach settling “tea.” But there is something to be said about having something warm to hold and sip on.
5. Do a chore first
If you’re having a hard time deciding whether you’re actually hungry or just bored and snacky. Try giving yourself a task to complete. Something that takes between 5-10 minutes. I’m sure they’res something around your house that needs done. Whether it’s laying out your clothes for the next day, folding towels, or emptying the dishwasher, get it done.
Odds are when you’re done, you’ll have completely forgotten you were wanting a snack. And if you haven’t forgotten, well then make yourself something small (fruit is best).
6. Create a physical reminder
This one may seem weird, but it works. If you already have a firm habit of late night snacking, you have an added challenge. You first have to break this habit in order to form a new one.
Sometimes, you’ll forget your intention not to snack. You may even grab something without thinking. And this may sound odd, but sometimes you need a physical reminder to break your mental habit loop.
Walking into the kitchen after dinner and grabbing a bag of chips is too easy. Set up a physical roadblock. A simple string across the entry can be enough of a reminder, or simply even turning off the kitchen light after dinner each night. Sometimes breaking a habit is as easy as recognizing it.
Tying a bow on the fridge door as a reminder, or even on your pantry, can be a great reminder. Not only to remember your intention, but also, breaks up that habit loop in order to help you identify and change the behavior.
7. How will it make you feel?
Will you feel successful or defeated if you have a snack? I stole this idea from Jordan Syatt (he’s awesome, check him out!). He had a great statement, when in doubt ask yourself: If I have this snack, will I feel successful or defeated afterwards. Or you could say, will this snack get me closer to my goal or further away. Even just reminding yourself of your goals, can be a huge habit changer.
8. Don’t buy snacks
The easiest way to avoid snacking is to keep them out of your kitchen. I make an effort to avoid purchasing snacks or desserts. I do not keep them in my house because I have very little control and know it.
If I really want something, I can go it. So I really don’t feel deprived. But it is also a lot of effort to go get something, and odds are I just don’t want it that much.
9. Put yourself to bed
Sometimes, your brain is just not on board with your goals. And sometimes, the easiest thing you can do, is take yourself out of the situation and just go to bed.
If you really can’t stay out of the kitchen, and your brain keeps trying to get you in the pantry, just go to bed. Sleep is a wonderful thing, and most of us are not getting enough. So going to bed early can be your back up if nothing else is working to keep the snacks out of your hands.