You know the feeling. You exercise regularly, and each day, you choose healthy options from breakfast to dinner and even bring your own homecooked lunchbox to work. But then comes when it’s late, and your craving just won’t quit.
Snacking after dinner and later in the evening is common, and you are certainly not alone. Late-night snacking is a struggle for many people, and although there is nothing wrong with eating at night if you are hungry, more often than not late-night snacking is done out of ritual, boredom, and stress, as opposed to actual hunger.
So, if this is you, worries no. Here are some simple ways to curb late-night snacking and help get you back in control.
1. Get Enough Protein Throughout the Day
If you find yourself eating late ay night due to hunger, try including protein at every meal. Eating enough protein can keep you satisfied throughout the day and prevent those mindless late night snack feasts.
If you’re someone who’s constantly on the go, you may benefit from incorporating protein shake into your routine. Evidence from several studies shows that eating protein during a meal reduces hunger and decreases the desire to eat.
If you could meal prep your own food, that’s even better because you get to control the amount of carbs, fiber, and protein in your own meals. Also, you can save up a lot from meal prepping.
2. Distract Yourself
Sometimes the strongest food craving hit when you’re at your weakest point emotionally. You may turn to food for comfort consciously or unconsciously when facing a difficult problem, feeling stressed, or even feeling bored.
If you’re not tired but too late to snack, simply distract yourself! Often times, a strange craving for chips or cookies is merely psychological, and not your body telling you it’s time to eat.
You can try to distracting yourself by doing house chores, drawing, cleaning, taking a walk or anything else that you can think of.
3. Eat a Well-Balance Dinner
Not only is it important to eat enough food, but it’s also important to get the right amount of carbohydrates, fat, and protein during dinner goes a long way toward feeling satisfied with your meal.
If you are the type of person who opts for light meals all day, you may want to re-think your strategy. So, if you tend to eat a light breakfast, a light lunch, and a light dinner, only to find yourself starving in the evening, it’s time to flip the script.
Instead of opting for a tiny portion at your meals, eat until you are full because you are more likely to make healthy choices at mealtime than at midnight when you’re looking for a treat.
4. Keep Your Body Hydrated
Sometimes when you are dehydrated your body has trouble distinguishing thirst from hunger. As a result, some people may eat in reaction to dehydration. However, this isn’t always the reason: some foods can provide hydration, specifically water-rich foods like melon, citrus and other fruit.
But sometimes, when you don’t realize you are mistaking thirst for hunger, you could reach for foods that won’t help hydrate you. If you remain hungry after dinner, try drinking a glass of water, then wait 20 minutes to see if that impacts the hunger you feel.
In addition to drinking plenty of water, you might also want to institute a night time tea ritual. Hit the supermarket and find a caffeine-free herbal tea like chamomile or Kava root tea.
5. Clear Your Home from Tempted Midnight Snacks
Out of sight, out of mind, right? This point seems almost too simple, but it’s more effective than you may imagine.
If there are certain foods you craving in the evening, don’t buy them. Try to limit your intake of what you already have in the house. Once you’ve finished it, be sure to avoid purchasing again. If it’s not there, you can’t eat it.
Instead, restock your kitchen with healthy foods. If you need to have a small snack, you want to keep nutritious bites in hand, such as whole fruit, a handful of nuts, and antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.
6. Sleep Early
Not only is prioritizing sleep important for general health and well-being, but the number of hours we sleep greatly affects our hunger cues. Lack of sleep contributes to hormone imbalances in insulin, leptin, and cortisol which have a profound on our cravings and hunger signals.
When you deprive yourself of sleep, ghrelin, the hormone that drives hunger goes up, and PYY, the hormone that makes you feel full, goes down. So, staying up late at night not only are you giving yourself more hours to much on something during the day, but you are setting yourself up for more cravings the following day as well.
Saying no to your late night cravings might seem impossible, but it may be just what you need to reclaim your eating habits and keep your overall health in tip-top shape!
Above all, a healthy relationship with food, and self-kindness are essential to successfully stop snacking late at night.
Remember that it takes time to form healthy habits that stick. If you eat a midnight snack every so often, don’t beat yourself up. Simply try your best the next day and the day after.