Wish you could stop nighttime snacking?
We try to do our best all day with nutrition, and then it gets dark and we feel “snacky,” hungry, and sometimes overeat. Nighttime snacking can be a huge, huge problem. Once we “mess up” with our eating, we feel like we “blew” all our hard work that day.
If you struggle to stop nighttime snacking you’re not alone!
It’s also common to feel like overeating at night is out of your control, because many times it honestly feels that way! This is especially true when you are a night owl (like me!) and sometimes you are up late when everyone is in bed – prime time to binge and snack when no one is watching!!
There are strategies I’ve developed over the years that have helped myself and other clients, and I want to equip you with those tools today.
But first, let’s do some quick myth-busting…
IS IT REALLY “BAD” TO EAT AT NIGHT?
You may have heard people say, “Don’t eat after 8pm,” or “Don’t eat right before bed because you can’t work off the calories since you’ll be asleep.” You may even have heard carbs in the evening are bad for you.
I’d like to first start by busting some myths and would like to be clear about what this blog post is going to cover.
First, it is a MYTH that you will gain weight eating before bed.
I know, shocking, right? I was shocked when I first learned this too. Especially when we’ve been told not to eat at night.
TRUTH: It does not matter what time of day you eat.
You can eat late into the evening and not put on body fat. What DOES matter is how many calories you consume (as a whole) the entire day. If you eat over your maintenance calories (the calorie amount that keep you maintaining your weight), you will gain body fat.
Now, people sometimes feel like nighttime eating is their problem because they noticed they gain weight when they eat at night. What likely is happening, though is they OVEREAT their recommended calories in the evening, and that’s what is causing the weight gain. Nighttime eating (itself) is not going to be a contributor to fat gain. It’s all about HOW MUCH you eat at night.
In fact, having a snack before bed (especially a snack with protein), may help with lean muscle growth and can help keep blood sugar steady and control hunger. I actually recommend it. More on that in the tools below.
6 Tools to Help you Stop Nighttime Snacking & Avoid Overeating at Night
Now that we’ve busted that myth, I’m going to give you tools to help you eat at night, but do it in a way that helps prevent overeating, so you will lose more body fat.
1) Front Loading Calories Earlier In The Day = less hunger.
You don’t need to avoid eating at night, but you do need to eat enough food during the day. Many times when we are on diets, we try limiting our food intake too much during the day. This sets us up for hunger later. Other times we may skip meals simply because we get busy, which can also set us up to overeat at night.
- ACTION PLAN: Eat enough meals during the day. Consume at least 3-4 solid meals or snacks. Consider packing healthy snacks to go and carry them with you in case you get busy and think you’ll miss a meal.
2) Eat Protein Throughout The Day
Protein is the best macronutrient for hunger-control and to keep our blood sugar steady. Protein helps us avoid big blood sugar dips and get cravings later. Healthy sources of protein include: lean meats, low fat dairy (string cheese, greek yogurt), beans, eggs, vegetarian options like tofu, low sugar protein shakes/bars, and more.
- ACTION PLAN: Aim to have at least 15 grams of protein for the majority of your snacks and meals. This will help you avoid overeating in the evening. Extra credit: eat a little protein before bed. This can even help with lean muscle growth.
3) Drink to Stay Hydrated – (Extra Credit If It’s Hot)
Many times we get hungry when we are dehydrated. Make sure you are drinking enough throughout the day. You may taper liquid at bedtime, but no need to stop drinking completely unless you have an issue getting up frequently to use the bathroom. One thing I LOVE, and recommend to help overeating at night, is to sip on a satisfying hot beverage (must be satisfying!). Those who know me are aware of my obsession with hot teas. I drink a big mug of my favorite peach chamomile in the evenings.
When I’m craving chocolate, sometimes I have a big mug of low sugar hot cocoa. It takes a while to sip something hot, and it helps avoid the mindless munching where calories tend to add up. Most of all, hot beverages make us feel satisfied. Feeling satisfied is so important in a fat-loss lifestyle, and adding in a tasty drink can help you stop nighttime snacking when otherwise you might have binged. You can’t continue your new healthy lifestyle the rest of your life without satisfaction built in daily.
- ACTION PLAN: Sip something hot and satisfying before bed. You may pair this with a snack, if you’d like.
4) Consume “Built-In Treats” During the Day – And Have Something Planned You Can Munch On At Night!
Again, if you’ve been reading my blog posts for a while you know I follow a #NoBannedFoods weight loss lifestyle, and encourage you to have small amount of foods you love during the day (what I call ‘built-in treats and satisfaction bites’). These little treats can be built into a healthy diet and, most important, stop you from feeling deprived while striving to lose weight. If you aren’t having built-in treats — start! The worst thing is dreaming about chocolate all day, and then being alone at night around chocolate when it’s a prime time to binge. If I know chocolate is a problem for me, I build in some dark chocolate into my day (because I love it) and that helps keep me satisfied.
Also, have something planned (and controlled) that you can munch on at night. I have various snacks in my nighttime rotation. One of my favorites is air-popped popcorn with a little light butter or coconut oil melted on it. It’s crunchy, filling, and I have it portioned to be about 300 calories for the whole bowl. In fact, I’m eating it now while typing this message. See the time on my computer – 11:16pm 🙂
- ACTION PLAN: To stop nighttime snacking, start using built-in treats during the day and have a satisfying, healthy snack planned ahead of time each evening to avoid overeating.
5) Be Mindful – No Mindless Eating
We tend to overeat at night because we get a huge bag of something crunchy and eat it mindlessly eat it while watching TV or going on the computer. That’s where the calories add up. Again, the solution is not to avoid eating at night, but make it count and pre-portion. Also, slow down and enjoy what you’re eating. Even if that means turning off the TV or computer, if that’s a problem for you. I love the 100 calorie bags of nuts because the serving size is already figured for me. Or I enjoy my popcorn (pictured above), which is pre-portioned.
- ACTION PLAN: Buy pre-portioned packs. Consider turning off the TV or computer while you eat at night if that’s a problem for you.
6) Go to Bed!
Feeling bored or tired can cause overeating at night. If you want to stop nighttime snacking you may just need to go to bed!
- ACTION PLAN: If you feel bored or tired go to bed. 🙂
I hope these tips have given you some inspiration and some valuable insight to help you stop nighttime snacking. If you found this article useful, you may also enjoy my most recently published resource guide Beat the Weekend Binge.
Brand Spankin’ New Freebie: BEAT THE WEEKEND BINGE
If you haven’t picked up your free copy of Beat The Weekend Binge yet, you can get it HERE.
I’ve never been more proud of a resource I’ve created for you guys than I am of this one! It comes with a PDF sharing my 3 strategies to stop the weekend (and evening) backslides, and then 5 follow up daily coaching emails to further teach the strategies. Those follow up coaching emails get really raw and personal. Some of it I can’t believe I shared and I was nervous to publish it, but I wanted to do it for those who struggled like I did.
It makes me angry there are not more resources out there to help us with issues like this.
The “perfect diet” doesn’t do us any good if we struggle with the mental/mindset stuff.
Again, this download is FREE for those who are interested.
I’ve put my best tools into it & I’ve been hearing great feedback already.
“Thank you for this! I feel like you are totally in my head and understand! I’ve already started making progress.”
“This has been tremendously helpful to me. Thank you.”
Again, I’ve created this helpful resource to help you stop nighttime snacking and binging on the weekends. If you haven’t downloaded your free copy of Beat The Weekend Binge yet, you can get it HERE or simply let me know below so I can get it to you ASAP.