It’s 8 pm, you recently ate dinner but yet you want something; a treat, maybe just something small. After that, you’re still wanting something, maybe just a little more.
Late-night snacking can be a burden on our health and our weight. Trying to avoid it only seems to fuel the craving fire. Why is it that when the sun goes down, the cravings come out to wreak havoc?
You’re not alone. A lot of people struggle with late-night snacking habits.
The good news? Making a few changes in your diet and your behavior can kick that nocturnal noshing to the curb.
Here are 5 tips to help ditch late-night snacking.
1. Choose foods that make you feel full
Making some adjustments to your meals during the day can significantly impact how much you eat and how frequently you might find yourself reaching for a snack.
If your meal is mostly made of carbohydrates, such as bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, or highly processed foods, you are likely to find yourself inclined to eat more during your meal and become hungry again soon after.
So what foods make us feel full?
Protein, fiber, and healthy fats are the key to a satisfying meal. Adding a good combination of these will help you shut down those frequent snack urges.
Make sure that your meals contain a protein source such as meat, fish, tofu, or eggs. Next, ensure you have some sort of vegetable filling roughly half your plate.
This will allow for more fiber. The volume of vegetables, along with their low calories, make their low calories, make them powerhouses for satiation.
Adding in some extra healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds can also help prevent an evening binge.
On the go and don’t have the option to make a plate like this? No worries!
Quick options can still be adjusted with these rules in mind. A great example of this is grabbing for a protein shake such as Naked Shake.
With 20 grams of plant-based pea protein and healthy fats from MCT oil combined with a natural fruit juice blend, a shake such as this can allow for a satisfying snack that will keep the hunger at bay long past your bedtime.
2. Make sure you are eating enough during the day
One of the biggest mistakes often made is skipping meals. It might sound like you are saving calories by doing this but your body has a funny way of catching up with you.
If you restrict your eating during the day, it will likely come back to haunt you in the evenings. Instead, opt for at least three meals a day to ensure you are fueling your body when you are up and moving so it can function properly.
Sometimes we don’t restrict intentionally but instead as a result of our hectic schedules. In this case, planning ahead can go a long way.
Create a list of meals for the week or even batch cook some items to have on hand in a pinch. This will not only save you money and allow for healthier options at mealtimes, but it can also avoid that frantic, “I-don’t-know-what-to-eat-so-I’ll-just-grab-whatever” fiasco that often leaves us unsatisfied.
3. Eat without distraction
We are all guilty of eating in front of the TV, our smartphone, during our work break, while on the computer and sometimes even all of the above.
Did you know that simply taking time to eat without any other distraction can increase the satisfaction you get from your meal?
When we eat distracted we are not listening to our body’s cues. We are not paying attention to how we feel when we are eating. In fact, sometimes we forget we even ate at all because our minds were focused elsewhere.
Dedicate a space for eating that does not allow for other distractions, such as the kitchen table. Focus on how you are feeling and how the food is tasting while you are eating it. Notice how it smells, how it looks, its texture, flavor, and really just dive into that moment and experience your foods.
This is an underrated but essential technique for getting us back in sync with our body when it comes to eating.
Lastly, Eat slower. Along with eating distracted, we often eat way too fast for our body to get a chance to recognize when it’s satisfied before we become stuffed to the point of discomfort.
It takes your stomach about 20 minutes to signal to your brain that it is satisfied once you begin eating so it’s important to give it some time.
4. Listen to your body
How often have you found yourself wandering into the kitchen shortly after a meal simply wanting something?
Because we often associate food with comfort, relaxation, and many other things aside from just nourishment, we can find ourselves reaching into the cupboards when we are feeling stressed, bored, tired, or simply out of habit.
How can we learn to better recognize when we need to eat? Ask yourself, “Why do I want to eat?”
Sometimes just taking that moment to think about what makes you want to reach for a snack can give you an opportunity to determine if you are eating for hunger or for other reasons.
Maybe you had a stressful day or snacking before bed has become a nightly routine for you. If you are wanting a snack for reasons that are not hunger, what else can you do with that time that does not involve food?
Removing yourself from that environment or starting a new routine can help with this, such as adding in an after-dinner walk to your evenings or journal to relieve the stress of your day.
5. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep
Sleep can be elusive at certain periods in our life and unfortunately, this might be why you want to snack more.
Whether you are tossing and turning as a result of stressful work obligations or you simply enjoy your alone time throughout the late evenings, inadequate sleep can often impair our ability to make healthy choices.
Sleep deprivation can affect hormones that are involved in hunger, confusing our system and making us want to eat more often. Our body can also sometimes mistake tiredness for hunger. Getting in at least seven to eight hours of restful sleep each night is essential to helping curb that late-night snacking.