There’s nothing worse than going the whole day eating healthy foods, only to find yourself starving at 10pm in front of the TV with a bag of chips and a pint of ice cream.
Despite your willpower to wake up with a bowl of oatmeal, it seems that once the sun goes down, we sabotage our healthy eating habits and indulge in the good stuff. When it comes to eating habits we want to change, many people need to combat their late night eating habits.
“Typically, snacking at night is not caused out of hunger but rather boredom,” says Rene Ficek, RD. “Additionally, the type of food that is snacked in is usually high calorie, indulgent food items like ice cream, cake, chips, etc.”
This can result in unwanted weight gain along with interrupted sleep patterns, as a large meal right before bed can cause restlessness as your body works on digesting the food.
If you’re someone who’s trying to have the healthiest eating habits, night eating doesn’t exactly go along with that plan, and it may be causing you to stay up later or eat more than you intended.
Next time you feel yourself headed to the kitchen for a late-night treat, try one of the below six tips to stop eating at night.
1. Don’t Skip Meals
If you aren’t eating enough well-balanced meals throughout the day, you may find yourself hungry at night. “Eat three, well balanced meals every day, and include two snacks,” says nutritionist Andrea Cox.
Experts recommend consuming enough protein and complex carbohydrates to help keep you satiated and prevent you from getting too hungry at night.
Dehydration is often mistaken for hunger, so if you find yourself craving a midnight snack, try seeing if the real problem is your thirst. “Drink unsweetened liquids instead: water, carbonated water, herbal tea,” says Lori Chong, RD at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
3. Start A New Habit
“Try finding something to replace eating with something that brings you enjoyment and relaxation,” says nutritionist Michelle Blum. “It could be playing a game on your phone, online shopping, reading, etc. You want to mimic the feeling of relaxation and enjoyment you get with food to something else.”
4. Brush Your Teeth
Signify to yourself that you are done eating for the night by brushing your teeth once you have finished dinner. Not only will this put you in the mindset that bedtime is soon, but no one wants to have to brush their teeth all over again, which will discourage you from breaking into another box of cookies.
5. Sit When You Eat
“Sit down and eat, and let mealtime be an experience,” says weight-loss expert Dr. Albert Takem, MD. “Take time to enjoy your food as opposed to mindless eating on the run.”
This will keep you from constantly grabbing snacks from the pantry or peeking open the fridge, and will instead force you to become mindful of what you are consuming.
6. Eat A Sleep-Promoting Snack
If you truly feel hungry, consider eating a small snack that will help lull you to sleep. “Fruits are a great late night snack choices because they’re typically low-calorie, low-fat, and high in fiber,” says Rachael Derr, R.D., culinary dietitian at Healthy Dining.
“For example, eat a banana for a bedtime boost of potassium and vitamin C. Cherries are another good choice; they’re rich in vitamin C and potassium and are a natural producer of melatonin, which helps you sleep.”