How to Stop Late-Night SnackingPosted: September 7, 2021
Late-night snacking is one of the biggest struggles I hear from my clients.
And probably one of the most common reasons for weight gain over time.
If you find yourself feeling bored after the kids have gone to bed or you want a “late-night reward” for being an amazing mom and handling all of the tantrums, trust me, I GET IT!
But, late night eating isn’t the best way to handle these emotions and I am going to share a few ways to reduce late night snacking so you can sleep better AND feel better the next day.
When I first became a mom, it was very important to me to relax with my husband and spend quality time with him after my son had gone to bed. Even though that is still VERY important in my house, the late-night eating had to stop.
I would wake up in the middle of the night feeling terrible, or even worse, I would have the hardest time falling asleep because I was uncomfortable.
Then, the weight started to creep on slowly and that’s when I made the decision to stop this habit in it’s tracks and realign with behaviors that made me feel good physically and mentally.
Here are my top tips for reducing the late-night snacking and eating. Keep in mind it is not “bad” to enjoy a snack late at night because it feels good for you but if it is affecting your sleep and your health that’s when you might want to take a look at this behavior and come up with ways that serves you and are good for you.
1. Eat regular, balanced meals and snacks throughout the day.
This means including fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
- Aim for 20-30 grams of fiber a day;
- Eat at least 20 grams of protein at every meal (this number will vary and I highly recommend speaking to a Registered Dietitian if you have specific health conditions);
- A serving size of healthy fats at every meal (around 10-15 grams)
2. Limit ultra-processed foods to help reduce cravings for late-night snacking.
- This is candy, sodas, cookies, chocolate bars, juice, cakes, etc.
- When you eat ultra-processed foods, your blood sugar spikes then crashes. This leads to an imbalance of hormones and feelings of fatigue and hunger which makes you crave more ultra-processed foods!!
- The sugar crash sends a signal to your brain that you need more energy and the fastest way to get that energy in is by eating those simple carbs and ultra-processed foods.
3. Prioritize your sleep for reduced late-night snacking.
I know you may find this tip a little lame but the quality and quantity of sleep can have a HUGE effect on your hormones, especially your hunger hormones.
Studies have shown that lack of sleep increases ghrelin (hormone that makes you feel hungry) and decreases leptin (hormone that makes you feel satisfied).
4. Find an alternative to those late-night snack attacks!
I LOVE tea and there are SO many kinds of dessert teas that taste DELICIOUS and feel like a treat. You can try doing this for a few nights a week and see how you feel.
I started with 2 nights a week and I started to look forward to relaxing on the couch with a warm drink with my husband after the kids have gone to bed.
It is really nice and it helps me wind down before bed. It really sets the mood.
If you want to indulge in a late-night snack, that is 100% okay, too!!
Here are a few tips for that:
- Make sure you are not physically hungry. If you are then you probably need to eat more balanced meals during the day or add a protein and fiber during dinner to help keep you feeling full.
- Choose options that provide you with nourishment like fruit and nuts/nut butter, carrots and cucumber with hummus dip, peanut butter spread on celery sticks and topped with raisins, cheese, dried fruits with crackers or maybe even cheese with nuts.
- If you want something a little less nourishing, totally fine too! Make sure it is coming from a place of decision-making versus mindless eating. Make the decision to have a treat late at night and make room for it during your day.
Remember, these foods are not off-limits or restricted. On the contrary, make these food choices from an empowered state-of-mind versus feeling out of control around these foods!