“I am fine during the day but after dinner I love to snack!”
Sound familiar? Wondering how to stop snacking late at night? Welcome to the club!
Maybe this also sounds familiar...
You made it through your long and hectic day. You followed your plan and worked hard to stay on track! You feel successful, accomplished, and proud of yourself. Now it’s time to unwind and relax…
You sit down, kick your feet up and turn on the TV. Next thing you know, you have your hand in the literal cookie jar (or chip bag). Uh-oh… “once you pop, the fun don’t stop!”
Fast forward through a few minutes of mindless snacking and suddenly frustration kicks in because this snacking detour was not planned. You may start to feel your efforts for the day slip away.
Now you’re here, wondering how to manage those cravings, stop snacking at night, and avoid slowing down your success.
We’ve got your back! Here are five tips and tricks to help finish the day strong.
1. Plan Your Late-Night Snack Ahead of Time
Sound too simple? Simple is the lowest hanging fruit so don’t underestimate it!
If you know you are going to want a late-night treat, plan it in advance and incorporate it into your day. Make that snack or treat part of a planned day of eating by adding it into your MyFitnessPal or food tracker app ahead of time. Then, design the rest of your meals around this special treat.
Not tracking precisely? Consider what you have eaten earlier in the day and what you plan to eat at night. For example, if you want a higher fat treat after dinner, keep your fats lower through the morning and afternoon.
You’ll never be disappointed that you took an extra five minutes to plan ahead.
2. Make it an Experience
Who doesn’t love a creamy and thick protein milkshake for dessert?
Sometimes, the best part of making a healthy treat is not only having it but the experience of making it and enjoying it!
- “What protein flavor do I want tonight?”
- “Should I toss in some strawberries or stick to my favorite - banana and PB?”
- “What toppings do I want to add? A few sprinkles? 10-15g of granola? 5g of chocolate chips? Maybe a few grams of whip cream?”
After all, no Instagram-worthy protein shake is complete without some accessorizing! Enjoying the experience of planning and making it can be just as fun as eating the treat itself.
Need some ideas? Try out our “High-Protein Banana Cheesecake Milkshake” as your next dessert!
Once you have your treat in hand, make sure to eat it slowly and savor the moment. Put down your phone and do your best to limit distractions so you can fully enjoy your special treat. When we eat while distracted (Netflix and chill much!?), it can be tough for our bodies to register being satiated.
Avoid Associating Relaxing with Late-Night Snacking
Think about this question for a few minutes… is your late-night snacking on autopilot?
If so, try to incorporate other relaxing things in your nightly routine that better align with your goals and are not food-related like...
- Stretching instead of sitting on the couch
- Going for a night walk after dinner
- Reading a book
Establishing a new habit that replaces snacking could be the key to removing the trigger that is causing you to reach for food. This new habit could be the answer to help you stop late-night snacking for good.
4. Say Goodbye to Tempting Food - but Just Once
If you have food in the house you have trouble saying no to, don’t buy that food anymore! It really is that simple. The truth is, you only have so much willpower.
WAG Pro Tip: Think about these foods as “not right now” foods instead of “never” foods!
Depending on where you are in your journey (are you cutting weight, gaining weight, or maintaining?), what your goals are (fat loss or muscle gain?) and what life is throwing your way (are you on your cycle or feeling particularly stressed?) you may be able to reintroduce some of those foods in the future. But, when you’re trying to create a healthy habit like stopping late-night snacking, keeping the healthy choice the easy choice is key to your success.
Having to say “no” every time you open your pantry is going to be hard - more like torture! It will be a lot easier to say “no” at the store one time, than saying it one hundred times at home.
If this isn’t an option because (insert family member or roommate name) loves to have a specific snack at home, try creating a separate spot for that food like a really high shelf or hidden spot in the pantry. When it is out of sight (and, when you’d have to whip out a stool to reach it) you are less likely to eat it.
You can always have an open and honest conversation with your friends/family members if this feels like the right thing to do. In this WAG Podcast, Adee and Michael give some great tips on how to handle this type of situation.
Set up an environment that facilitates the choices you want to make!
5. Think About The Future You
When you notice a craving or that urge to snack at night, pause for a moment and take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself..
“Am I actually hungry? Or is this just a habit - built up over time?”
Visualize what you will feel like when you get in bed tonight and when you get up in the morning in the morning if you resist the temptation to snack vs. if you give in.
Ask yourself, “How do I want to FEEL when I get out of bed tomorrow?”
What decision will you feel proud of? Sometimes a small pause and considering how you want to feel can help reframe your thinking and mindset. Turn nutrition into something you GET to do vs. something you HAVE to do.
Don’t forget to take advantage of all the amazing resources available at your fingertips! A WAG coach, WAG articles and all the social media content out there. You never know when you might come across something that is just the thing you need to hear when you need to hear it to have that “lightbulb moment”.
And lastly, have compassion and grace with yourself.
We all give in to late-night snack temptations every now and then. Moving on from this and doing your best to not feel bad or guilty is an important and necessary part of a successful nutrition journey and lifestyle.
Make a healthy choice you’re proud of as soon as you can to remind yourself that you have the power - and remember that everything is going to be alright if you treat each experience as a chance to grow and learn.