This time of year is so dangerous. There are cookies and candy and popcorn and deliciousness everywhere! And certainly, you can and should enjoy them. That said, I have been getting asked this question a lot lately – how do you keep from eating the kitchen at night?
You come home from work, make a nutritious dinner, maybe put your kids to bed, or watch TV with your dog, or work more. Then it strikes – the SNACKING! Pretty soon you’ve eaten cereal, chips, half a box of See’s that your neighbor gave you, caramel popcorn that you don’t even really like, and ice cream straight from the container.
Sound familiar? I am not the expert on this, but here are some of the things I have found that help me:
- Plan a snack/dessert for after dinner. Sometimes knowing you get to have a little treat or something to crush your night time hunger is all you need to keep you from going HAM on your kitchen. If you are someone who tracks macros/calories – put your night time snack in your tracking app at the beginning of the day. That can help motivate you to eat well throughout the day.
- Paint your nails, knit, color – find something to occupy your hands! OR stretch and roll – you know you put it off.
- Wait 20 minutes. Set a timer on your phone – do you still want whatever the thing is? If yes, go get a small amount, put it on a separate plate, sit down at a table and focus on eating that portion. Enjoy it & savor it.
- Brush your teeth. Sometimes, that is all it takes for me to turn off the craving switch.
- Are you eating enough during the day? If you are truly still hungry at night, maybe your meals during the aren’t satiating enough. Maybe you are not eating enough fat or protein, or too many foods with a high glycemic index that are causing your blood sugar to be unstable.
- Out of sight, out of mind – I put “treats” that I normally wouldn’t keep in the house on top of my refrigerator. That is kind of my “off limits” zone. It is helpful not having the bag of cookies staring me in the face every time I go to the pantry for salt. Of course, you can’t throw out every treat that your family brings into the house, so if you can find a place to put those foods where they are looking at you from the kitchen counter, you might find it easier to stop constantly craving them.
- Sugar is addictive! The less you eat of it, the less you want it all the time. Practice saying no. It is ok if you aren’t perfect every day! Just give it time and know that the more times you are able to successfully say no, the easier it will get.
- Get back on track the next day. Don’t beat yourself up if you snack a little too much one night. Don’t restrict calories the next day, or skip breakfast. Just go back to your normal routine. One night of poor food choices isn’t going to ruin all your progress. Give yourself grace and remember that you are human!
- Are you eating because you are stressed, bored, emotional? If you can decide WHY you want to eat when you are not hungry, it may be easier to stop the cycle. Of course, there are going to be times when you just want a damn cookie, and that’s normal. That said, when you are eating to avoid your feelings – or literally eating your feelings, maybe that is something explore.
- Finally, I want to say that I’m not a registered dietician. These are just things that have helped me. If you are truly struggling with binge eating, you should seek professional help.
This time of year is so tempting with all of the wonderful treats! I have always had a very imbalanced approach to balance, but I am learning the beauty of enjoying a treat here or there without guilt, but eating for nourishment as a way of life. I think it is an ever-changing journey and we all have to find what works for us individually.
Do you struggle with nighttime snacking?
What have you found helps?