10 Ways to Stop Snacking at Night

I can go the entire day and eat healthy, get my workout in, and feel great. I am a warrior when it comes to avoiding donuts in the break room and saying no to Starbucks runs but when its past dinnertime and I’m alone in my room I want nothing more than to secretly eat EVERYTHING. And sometimes, honestly, I do. ENOUGH! Here are the ways I’m going to turn this bad habit around:

  1. Drink water. As soon as I finish my meal I am going to drink a large bottle of water. It’s a great way to get all those fluids in before the end of the day and still have time to do so without waking yourself up in the middle of the night with a full bladder.
  2. Hot tea. It’s finally fall and the temps are dropping. Invest in those wonderful teas that calm you down, relax you, and put you into a good evening mood. One of my favorites is wild raspberry hibiscus.
  3. Brush your teeth! It’s easier to say no to snacks and night caps after your teeth are totally clean. Get in the habit of establishing a healthy bedtime routine. Brush and floss your teeth after dinner. Take time to enjoy it, play your favorite nighttime relaxation music (mine currently is Mat Kearney).
  4. Only eat at the dining table. And stop eating in front of your TV, computer, in your bedroom, etc. If we train our brains to recognize that there’s only one place in the house/apartment to eat then we will be less likely to think about snacking when we aren’t there over time. Make meals their own event, just like you do for your workouts, reading time, etc. When you do eat, do JUST that. Take time to consciously absorb and savor your food, feel it nourishing your body, and notice how foods make you feel mentally and physically as you eat them. Soon you’ll be aware of exactly what sugar does to your body within minutes of eating it. Your body wants your brain to know these things, it just can’t always be as loud as your thought process, listen to it.
  5. Get busy & distract yourself. More often than not when I do overeat after dinner it’s because I’m bored or because I think I have nothing better to do. Get in the zone like I talked about in my happiness post and let your mind get absorbed with other tasks. Have some things at hand you can automatically pick up when times get tough. Sudoku puzzles, Pinterest, Facebook (yes, I’m telling you to FB instead of eating potato chips), seriously WHATEVER works and over time not eating after dinner will become a habit and you won’t need these things. Get involved in a good book, write, have solo dance parties, I like to play BrainAge on my Nintendo DSi. Do some bedtime stretches, go on a walk, call a friend, call your family.
  6. Close the kitchen. Some people need to establish rules for themselves until they create a habit. My Mom used to say “the kitchen is closed after 7pm” and this would keep her from going back and making late night snacks and treats. Give your body a couple of hours to digest food before bed. Ever notice how hard it is to fall asleep on a super full stomach? I always feels better when I don’t eat 2-3 hours before bed.
  7. Find other ways to deal with your emotions. I think we have all eaten (or not eaten) purely out of stress/emotions in the past. We deserve chocolate after such a stressful/hard day. Find other ways to vent and unleash those emotions. Journal, listen to calming music, meditate, talk to someone, watch stand up on Netflix – seriously laughter helps!
  8. When all else fails, go to bed. I’ve seriously had to lock myself in my room before away from my roommates pizza and brownies in the past to keep myself from breaking a great day of nutrition and rough workouts. If you really think you can’t handle it, get in bed, and go to sleep. You’ll never wake up in the morning and think “omg I WISH I had stayed up later to eat an entire cake” trust me.
  9. Learn the difference between feeling actually hungry and feeling light. We often trick ourselves into thinking we’re hungry. How many times have you said or heard someone say “I’m not super hungry, but I could eat” – we ALL could eat, always, but the trick is to only eat when our bodies need the food, energy, and nourishment. You should go to bed without feeling full, your stomach should feel satisfied and lighter as food is being digested, this isn’t a signal that you NEED a night-time snack, it’s just how we all should feel when we get ready for sleep.
  10. Keep the big picture in mind. Nothing is going to change if you don’t actually change your actions. It’s one thing to get motivated and pin all the exercise pictures on Pinterest but if you keep eating at night you won’t reach your goals. The first few days are going to be hard, but I PROMISE you that if you stick with it, after a week, you won’t miss it.