How to Stop Late-Night Snacking

By: Alicia Hansen, St. Cloud Livea
BS-Nutritional Sciences-Dietetics
Certified Personal Trainer
Certified Sports Nutritionist

“Why am I snacking and how can I stop this!?”

Okay, so you had that nutritious dinner you worked so hard to plan, but ten minutes later you’re reaching for snacks in the cupboard. After-dinner snacking can easily turn into a habit which can be difficult to break. Eating late at night not only leads to unwanted pounds, but other consequences like poor digestion, trouble sleeping, and even cognitive impairment to our brain.

So why do we do it? There could be many factors as to “why” we are reaching for food after we just ate. The common excuse is that we are still hungry, but often it’s considered a false hunger. What if instead of reaching for that refrigerator door, we take just a moment to ask ourselves, “Am I really hungry?” Keeping a journal about what you are doing and how you are feeling when you reach for a snack could help determine why you want to snack. For example, you may notice that every time you sit on the couch you want to eat something. A helpful tip would be to change that activity. So instead of sitting on your couch to watch your evening show, try stretching or choose a new location to break the pattern of snacking.

The good news is that there are other ways to help curb that late night snacking and break this habit.

Tips on How to Stop Late-Night Snacking

Some helpful pointers on how to stop late-night snacking:

  • Eat enough quality protein
  • Manage your emotions (For more recommendations on this, please see your Livea Guide Section on “Emotional Eating”)
  • Drink a glass of water
  • Eat enough throughout the day
  • Drink hot tea
  • Eat meals more slowly

What foods to avoid before bed:

  • Caffeine
  • High-calorie foods
  • Alcohol
  • Sugary foods
  • High-sodium foods

What Are Some Healthy Late-Night Snacks?

If totally necessary, snacking at night is okay to do in moderation. Make sure you’re taking a moment to evaluate if your body is actually feeling hungry. If you are truly hungry, then be prepared with some healthy late night snacks.

In the evening (when physical activity is low) our food choices become more important for optimal health. The quality of food you eat before bed is key, due to your body’s natural repair mode when at rest. There are some foods that would be considered a healthier snack than others. Choose a snack that is high in protein and fiber to help satisfy that urge of over-consumption.

Healthy snack options:

  • Greek yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese
  • Celery and hummus
  • Jerky
  • Piece of sliced turkey with low-fat cheese
  • Hardboiled egg
  • Livea shake or bar

Next time you are wanting to eat more at night after your last meal, pause to ask yourself if you’re actually hungry, or just bored. If you decide a snack is necessary, opt for one of the healthier ones we listed above!

Resources:

Cleveland HeartLab, Inc. “Late night eating and your heart”.Jan. 2019,https://www.clevelandheartlab.com/blog/late-night-eating-and-your-heart/

Gladwell Katie, “Eating late at night has these 7 effects on your health”. July 2021, https://www.dailyhealthybody.com/nutrition/eating-late-night/

Elizabeth Timms, “Why you binge snack at night and how to stop”. January 2021, https://blog.uvahealth.com/2021/01/07/binge-eating-at-night/

Cynthia Sass, “The surprising reason you snack at night (and how to stop it)”.May 2013, https://www.health.com/condition/obesity/the-surprising-reason-you-snack-at-night-and-how-to-stop-it

Penelope Clark, MS, RDN, CDN, “5 Tips to Curb Your Late-Night Snacking”. April 2021,https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/healthy-habits/5-tips-to-curb-your-late-night-snacking