Excess calorie consumption often results from eating unhealthy snack food late in the day. If you find yourself snacking at night, it is possible you are not eating enough during the day, are bored, looking for a way to unwind, or just stuck in a bad habit. Regardless of the reason, swapping the unhealthy behavior for a new, healthier action can help to reduce the munchies.
Banish Binge Eating
Sometimes the key to eating less at night is to eat frequent small meals throughout the day. If you do not get enough calories during the day, your body may be trying to catch up by eating more at night. Try these tips to spread your calories more evenly throughout the day:
- Eat regular meals. Skipping meals may cause overeating later on and may have a negative effect on your metabolism.
- Start your day with a well-balanced breakfast. Include both a carbohydrate and a protein to help maintain your energy levels. For example, choose a cereal with milk and add fruit, or eat yogurt with granola and fruit.
- Eat a small, healthy snack between breakfast and lunch, such as fruit, chopped veggies or nuts.
- Choose a lunch option that is low in calories and fat, but will provide you with protein, fiber and nutrients.
- Eat a healthy mid-afternoon snack to avoid overeating at dinner, such as a piece of fruit, chopped veggies, or a single serving of cheese or nuts.
- Don’t skip dinner. Sit down and eat dinner no matter how late you get home.
- Know your “trigger” times where you may feel compelled to eat more. For most people, this is the hour either right before or right after dinner.
Curb Post-Dinner Cravings
- Pack up or freeze leftovers after dinner to avoid grazing.
- Don’t hang around the kitchen. Go for a walk or work on a project in another room.
- Clean the kitchen, turn off the light and close the door, if possible.
- Wait 10-15 minutes for any craving to pass.
- Brush and floss your teeth soon after dinner.
- Set a cutoff time for eating.
- Avoid snacking in front of the TV. Watching TV can encourage mindless eating.
- Take an exercise break instead of reaching for a snack.
- Keep your hands busy to avoid mindless snacking. Find a hobby, work on a puzzle, take up a crosswords or Sudoku, or draw.
Set Yourself Up for Success
- Think through your plan of attack. If it feels daunting to overhaul your habits, focus on one or two changes to start, and then build upon your progress.
- Be specific with what you want to accomplish.
- Make your environment conducive to change. Keep junk food out of sight; ensure you have healthy snacks available and whatever other diversion you choose.
Stock Up on Healthy Substitutions
If you’re unable to eliminate snacking completely, try swapping your usual snacks for healthier options.
- Enjoy some fresh fruit.
- Drink a glass of water or low fat milk.
- Try some tea or hot chocolate.
- Treat yourself to a piece of candy. Check the label for serving sizes to keep your calories and sugar down.
- Find healthier versions of desserts you like. For example: frozen yogurt, light ice cream, or whole grain crackers or muffins. If you’re a chocolate lover, you may enjoy these healthier ways to enjoy chocolate.
For Health Advocate Members
If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to the coaching component of our wellness program, connect with a coach for more nutrition tips!