8 Tips to Stop Late Night Snacks

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Does this sound familiar? It’s quiet at night and you finally get to relax and unwind. It’s your time and you feel the urge to treat yourself to an enjoyable, tasty snack. The day was stressful, you’re tired and you need it. You don’t have the energy to fight the urge. And the food advertisements on TV, the social setting or the fact that no one is around certainly makes it harder to resist the urge to indulge. It’s just a little snack.

It happens to me and I’m betting it often happens to you too. The pull of the late night snack! Often I’ve been eating well all day and then – BAM! – the craving strikes. It’s like the refrigerator is calling my name and I feel irresistibly drawn to snack on whatever takes my fancy. But how do you stop it?

Here’s some suggestions to help you curb those late night cravings.

Firstly, numerous studies have shown that a craving does not indicate a nutritional deficiency. Most commonly it has nothing to do with hunger, but instead is more related to boredom or just habit. 

Secondly, remember, it’s not the TIME you eat that leads to weight gain, but rather the TYPE of foods you tend to eat late at night. That’s the reason why late night snacking is dangerous – because most people tend to indulge in the foods they love the most (icecream, chips, chocolate, desserts etc). It is usually the naughty foods that aren’t good for us. So if you consume lots of calories at night, because you’re more sedentary and you’re not expending much energy, then you’re more likely to gain weight.

So here are some tips to help you curb your late night snacking:

1.Eat a nutritious fibre-rich dinner

If you’re ravenous after dinner and still feel like you could eat more, then you are probably not eating the right types of food. Eating well throughout the entire day will help, but especially for your last meal of the day it’s important to make sure your dinner includes plenty of whole foods rich in fibre, protein and nutrients. They’ll keep you feeling fuller for longer and keep your blood sugar level up, so that you feel satisfied instead of having intense urges to snack which will lead to overeating or binging at night. If you’re still hungry despite all this, then perhaps push back your dinner for an hour. Whilst it is not advisable to eat too late, it is better to eat a bit later rather than binge or snack on bad food.

2. Avoid boredom and distract yourself after dinner

Given a lot of late night snacking is actually related to boredom and existing habits, distract yourself and avoid places and situations that cause you to eat late at night. (eg mindless munching during TV commercials and late night TV). So switch up your routine and go for a walk; read a book; relax in a hot bath; plan a holiday; do some stretching; ring a friend or be social. Whatever works for you.

3. Have a protein shake

This is my personal favourite to prevent my late night cravings. Have a protein shake (I have chocolate flavoured whey protein and water). Not only does it help my muscles recover overnight, but at the same time it takes the edge off my cravings and stops me from late night binges.

4. Sip a low calorie alternative like herbal tea

If a protein shake isn’t for you, why not satisfy your cravings with a herbal tea or a glass of water. Not only will it help you stay hydrated, it will give you something to do with your hands and mouth.

5. Don’t let them unhealthy snacks even enter the house

No matter how much willpower you have, we know what happens when those unhealthy snacks are right there in front of us – they get eaten! So don’t make it hard for yourself. If you don’t buy it and it doesn’t enter your house, then it wont enter your mouth when those cravings come.

6. Be prepared with smart snack swaps

Just as is the case when changing habits (where you need to replace an existing bad habit with a new good one), so it is with trying to change your habits around snacks. Replace bad snacks with healthier snacks. Rather then depriving yourself completely which can make you go crazy with night time urges and sometimes backfires, be realistic and understand that the inevitable urges will come. And when they do, rather than depriving yourself and feeling guilty for indulging, you’ll be prepared with some smarter and healthier choices. I’ve been freezing grapes in the fridge and having a few of those. I know others who have a piece of dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate.

7. Use accountability as your friend

Will power can only be so strong. For the same reason we encourage people doing Active8me’s programs to have accountability buddies. We encourage you to do the same if you’re serious about wanting to quit the late night snacking. Tell your friends, family and those whom you live with, that you want to stop and that you’d like their help to stop. Ask them not to offer you any tempting treats and, if possible, not to eat them in front of you. Removing the temptations makes a big difference, but so does a bit of help and accountability.

8. Ask yourself one key question – am I really hungry or just bored?

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