4 Ways to Avoid Late-Night Snacking

By , Lizz S., SparkPeople Contributor
Though it can be a source of comfort at the end of a long day, late-night snacking adds unnecessary calories to your diet and can lead to weight gain. Eating late at night means you're consuming calories at a time when your body is unlikely to burn them off before sleeping, which can lead to those calories being directed to your body's fat stores. To avoid this problem, it is important to think about what you are eating after the sun sets and rexamine why it is that you choose that time of night to munch. 

Discovering Your Motivation

Ending late-night snacking starts with discovering what you are getting out of the behavior in the first place. Is it the taste of the foods that you are craving? Are you finding yourself still hungry at the end of the day? Are you bored and looking for an activity that you enjoy? Are you trying to repress loneliness? All of these reasons for eating late at night can be helped with some modification of your behavior.

Enjoying Your Snacks

If your primary motivation for eating late is that you have snacks that you enjoy, not being able to eat them at all can lead you to obsess over them. You might find that they become a temptation you simply cannot overcome. To avoid this problem, allow yourself a reasonable amount of this particular snack food during the day or just after dinner, rather than late at night.

Eating Late Due to Hunger

If you find yourself hungry late at night, there are two quick fixes that can overcome that hunger pain without indulging in an after-hours snack. Consider eating dinner later so that you aren't hungry later in the evening. If you don't believe that timing is the problem, take a look at what you are eating for dinner. Is it satisfying? Is it leaving you hungry when you leave the table? Be sure that your dinner is well-balanced and that your plate includes both healthy fats and protein to leave you feeling satisfied when you finish that last bite.

The second option to avoid hunger is to go to bed earlier so that temptation won't strike you when it gets later. Experiment with earlier bedtimes to find the right one that won't leave you raiding the refrigerator later.

Eating Out of Boredom

Many people who snack late at night report that they are simply bored and looking for something to do. The late hour leaves people with a low level of energy, and snacking provides an easy, mindless activity. It's easy for snacking and TV to make for an entertaining night that packs on the pounds. Focus on finding another activity that allows you to engage in something fun during this low-energy time. You may not feel like doing anything very physical, but leafing through magazines, doing simple crafts or browsing the Internet are all things that are easy to do when you're bored at night.

Reaching Out to Others

If loneliness is what is causing you to eat, it's possible that you are snacking to repress your feelings. Instead of reaching for a snack, try reaching out to a friend or family member when loneliness strikes. Even if it's late at night, it's never too late to send out emails and engage with your friends on social media.

It may take time to get out of the habit of late-night snacking, but once you understand the reason that you do it and what you can replace it with, you can expect to lose weight and feel less guilt about your eating habits.

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