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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KATHYJO56 7/12/2020
Great article that made me stop and think Report
CKEYES1 5/15/2020
And there's my problem Report
LOSER05 5/6/2020
thanks Report
ROBBIEY 4/18/2020
thanks Report
PREMAM 1/31/2020
I am guilty of every crime listed here on my cheat day....and I indulge myself to the extent that I don't feel the need to repeat my craziness for the next 6 days. Report
Thanks Report
I have always had an evening snack and plan for it. Report
thanks Report
Beware of supporting the meme about not eating after x-o'clock because it will turn to fat. This is untrue. Food will be metabolized the same regardless of when it is consumed. Report
Going to bed earlier really helps.
The other thing I have in place is not eating after a certain time in the evening. Once my brain got used to that, it no longer was reviewing the contents of the refrigerator and pantry because it knew the answer is, "Wait until morning." Report
Great info! Thanks! Report
I am out of my kitchen as soon as the supper is cleaned up.

Helps! Report
Finding I can curb late night snacking thru eating properly throughout the day, so I am satisfied. Report
Yes, late night snacking is my greatest downfall, my worst self - sabotaging behavior. Thank you, this article helps. Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
Great info! Thanks! Report
Great article. Lots of suggestions. Report
I don't have any deep dark hidden reason why I like or liked late night snacking, I like to eat delicious food while I watch TV. There you have it, my dark shame-filled answer. Anyway, that was in my glory days of being fat and loving it, now though I know better.

The way I stop myself from eating Cheetos or chips or ice cream at night with my TV is I simply don't buy it, it's not even in the house, can't eat it if it's not here. This way I don't torture myself staring longingly at the bag of spicy Cheetos.

What I do have now to snack on is rasberries, almond butter, peanut butter (these last 2 esp. are eaten sparingly, as in maybe 1 or 2 tablespoons then I stop myself). Sipping diet soda is another good way to have something good while not adding on the pounds.

I do not swear though to never have another cheeto I just know it is now a treat to be taken once in a while, not nightly or even weekly, more like once every 6 months. Just knowing you will once again eat the good stuff is enough to make you not feel deprived and desperate to buy it NOW. Report
Thank you Report
Thanks for the wonderful article! Report
Excellent article. If I want something to eat after dinner, I snack on almonds and a cup of decaf green tea. Report
I try to never eat after dinner. Report
Good read Report
I’m with ya @michele142 - I’m hypoglycemic and if I don’t have a snack before night I usually crash. Articles like this should include the flip side too. In my opinion and personal experience, there is not a “one size fits all plan” when it comes to dieting and being healthy—just guidelines to be tweaked to your own bodies... Report
Thank you Report
Thanks Report
Sending this one to my mom! So sensible! Report
thanks Report
Just plan your snacks so you have something in the evening, for heaven’s sakes...... Report
I cannot let the fear of the past color the future. - Julie Kagawa, The Eternity Cure ~ 3/9/18 Report
good points Report
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar in a glass of water plus 2 teaspoons fiber makes any late night cravings disappear. Report
Having a hot drink like tea helps me. Report
I too have a late night snack when I wind down with my series. But its within my daily calorie limit. I am slowly trying to break away from it. Report
Great info...
Thank You for your great suggestions. Report
Good suggestions that made me think about the eating. Report
Good article. Report
Good info Report
This will help me at night thanks! Report
I have made a promise to myself not to eat past 8 pm. If I do, I'm usually hungrier in the mornings. I don't like the feeling of feeling "full" before bed. Report
I say, if you have calories available, then yes, have a snack. If you don't then plan ahead and fit the snacks in! Report
Yes, I do have a snack at night and have since 1991. I am a Type 2 Insulin dependent Diabetic. Snacks are included in my Carb count and eaten to prevent Hypoglycemia at night. Report
Good article. I was a little confused as the date on the article is 12/29/2016, but I read it on 12/28/2015. Report