Before we address how to stop snacking at night so that you can start losing weight, how about you ask yourself a few questions?
Are you one of those people who feel the kitchen softly calls their name in the middle of the night? Do you ever feel like your fridge whispers sweet little nothings in the middle of the night?
Or is your case different and you only take night trips to the kitchen when you are unhappy? Do you perhaps eat when you are bored or when stressed?
One more question before we get on to answering how to stop eating at night and lose weight is this: do you skip meals during the day?
Let’s first found out what is causing you to reach for midnight snacks.
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What Causes Nighttime Snacking and Weight Gain?
1. Lack of Sleep
In 2018, the University of Arizona conducted a nationwide telephonic survey in which over 3000 adults participated.
The participants were asked if they regularly had late-night snacks, their quality of sleep, and whether they had any health issues.
About 60% of the people surveyed revealed that they often indulged in late-night snacking, and two-thirds of these people reported that lack of sleep led them to crave more junk food.
This study also confirmed that “sleep deprivation can lead to junk food cravings at night, which leads to increased unhealthy snacking at night, which then leads to weight gain.”
2. Emotional Eating
While some people snack at night because of lack of sleep, the majority of us who nosh at night do so because we are emotional eaters.
Emotional eating doesn’t only involve eating when stressed, upset or happy. Eating disorders like binge eating is also classified as emotional eating.
Other forms of emotional eating which may lead to snacking at night include the following:
- Snacking when you aren’t really hungry
- Using food as a reward or punishment
- Seeking the pleasure of food
- Eating when you are depressed or lonely
- Eating out of boredom
- Turning to food to numb your feelings
HOW TO STOP SNACKING AT NIGHT
Now that we have identified what causes late-night munching, here’s how to stop snacking at night.
1. Get Enough Sleep- go to bed early
When you lose sleep, you gain weight. Go to bed early. The study cited above clearly shows that lack of sleep leads to unhealthy eating behaviours and obesity.
When you sleep for less than 8 hours, the hunger hormones sends out signals to the brain that you’re starving and need to eat more.
Sleep deprivation will also lead you to crave junk food and unhealthy snacks at night.
If you struggle to sleep, it’s not too late to learn how to easily get to sleep when even when you just can’t.
Tips on How to Sleep Through the Night
- Make your bedroom more sleep friendly by keeping it clutter free, lighting a few aromatherapy candles and use blackout curtains.
- Keep a consistent sleeping schedule by going to sleep around the same time every night.
- Exercise regularly for better sleep. Keep in mind not to exercise vigorously a few hours before bedtime, as this may cause sleeping problems due to overstimulation.
- If you drink caffeinated beverages, like coffee, tea, and sodas, gradually cut back on your consumption.
- Screen time at night can affect your quality of sleep. Turn off your electronics between 30 minutes to 2 hours each night before bedtime.
2. Eat Meals at Regular Times
You should make it a point to eat meals at regular times. Ensure that you aren’t skipping any meals, and are eating at least 3 healthy meals a day.
Planning your meals in advance using a meal planner will help you stay consistent with your diet. Jotting down your meals and snacks, no matter how small, will give you an idea of just how much you are eating.
Meal planning will help you create awareness of just how much and how often you are eating.
If you lack self-control around food, planning meals will put you in charge of what you are going to eat, at what times you will eat, and how much you will eat.
Think of meal planning as a tight budget- you plan and prepare your meals for the day or week, and anything not within your budget should not pass your lips.
3. Brush Your Teeth after Meals to Stop Your Night Eating Habit
Silly as it may sound, brushing your teeth after dinner works well to stop night eating habits. Toothpaste’s minty flavour is well known to ‘ruin’ the taste of food. This awful taste will work in your favour to stop you from snacking at night.
The fresh and clean feeling from toothpaste or mouthwash will kill the urge to eat again. If later in the night you feel like snacking, drink water or pop a mint strip or sugar-free gum.
4. Remove all Junk Food from Your Kitchen Pantry
If you are in the habit of binge eating at night, the easiest remedy for you to stop is to get rid of all junk food from your cupboard.
Late night snacking is really about eating whatever you can find. And, the thing with snacks like chips, chocolate and cookies is that once it’s sitting there somewhere in your home, you will keep thinking about it and eventually you will cave in and eat.
Don’t even think about having a stash of your junk food supply somewhere in your house where you won’t be seeing it daily, because sometimes self-control flies out of the window so fast.
Purge the pantry of all the foods that are likely to trigger night-time snacking.
5. Keep a Stash of Healthy Late-Night Snacks as Backup
Life happens, and at one point, your willpower might fail. If this ever happens, just make sure you have an emergency plan and don’t binge on everything in sight.
Out of your daily calorie allowance, set aside 200- 300 calories for a healthy late night snack that is high protein.
This way, you won’t be sabotaging your weight loss efforts as you still will be eating within your daily calorie amount.
Check this list of quick and easy healthy high protein snacks that you can enjoy at night.
6. Stop Eating Out of Boredom
Most times when you are bored, you will find yourself reaching for food. Beat boredom eating by finding something to keep you busy.
If when watching TV you suddenly get the munchies, fight the craving by doing this bedtime workout below.
Mini Workout before Bed
By the time you’re on your 5th crunch, you will appreciate your efforts not to ruin your diet.
Another way you will learn how to stop eating at night and lose weight night is by finding an exciting hobby that requires the use of your hands.
Try adult colouring. Learn how to knit or crochet. Do some scrapbooking or crossword puzzle.
Find something that will add joy to your life, while helping you lose inches off your waist.
HELP! I CAN’T STOP EATING AT NIGHT
7. Seek Professional Help If Necessary
If you have tried all of these tips on how to stop snacking and you are still powerless around food, then don’t feel ashamed or scared about seeking help.
Your physical and emotional health is more important than you being afraid of people judging you.
Talk to someone you trust about your eating problems, and if they aren’t as understanding as you want, then join a support group.
Groups like Overeaters Anonymous are there for you and will help you stop eating compulsively.
University of Arizona Health Sciences. (2018, June 1). Sleep loss linked to nighttime snacking, junk food cravings, obesity, diabetes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 17, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180601171900.htm