Eating junk food in the evening is so tempting! Try these 20+ realistic tips to help you stop nighttime snacking, one small change at a time.
I tried all of the drastic changes and, while many of them worked, the results were always temporary and usually, I ended up undoing any of the progress I’d made and then regressing some more (in the form of gaining back even more weight than when I started!).
It was such a frustrating cycle I was stuck in.
And then I started making one small change at a time instead.
My progress was slower than many of the radical weight loss journeys you read about, but I discovered something magical…
The changes stuck.
And I found I was actually teaching myself to LIKE making healthy choices.
It was pretty surreal at first, but it allowed me to lose 100-pounds, maintain that weight loss, and still live like a normal person (by that, I mean that I still eat fast-food french fries and Nutty Bars and enjoy Netflix marathons…I just have an awesome balance of healthy choices, too!).
One of the habits that took me a long time to tackle was my nighttime snacking.
Because, goodness, it’s hard enough to say no to food cravings all day long, but at night it just felt plain IMPOSSIBLE!
I was a master of nighttime eating.
The sun went down, my willpower was pretty much used up for the day, and I snuck to the cupboards, grabbing all of the fruit snacks, candy, chips, and Little Debbie treats that were
calling screaming my name.
If that resonates with you, you are definitely not alone!
I’ve put together a list of a bunch of the different small changes I tried as I worked on that habit.
There’s a good chance that some of these resonate with you and some of them don’t.
That’s normal! I’m all about trial and error in your weight loss journey and just learning what works for you, what doesn’t, and growing from there.
20+ One Small Changes for Nighttime Snacking
- Ask yourself, “Am I hungry enough to eat an apple?” (If you are, go ahead & eat the apple! If not, you know it’s emotional hunger/cravings leading you instead).
- Only grab one serving and put the rest away (instead of bringing the whole bag or box with you to the couch/bedroom).
- Don’t eat anything after 8pm.
- Get individual serving bags instead of large bags & only take one (this took me a lot of practice…I used to grab one…and then another and another…but eventually I got it down to just one!).
- Try a healthy substitute (like a Greek yogurt popsicle instead of a bowl of Ben & Jerry’s), but make sure it still tastes satisfying!
- Brush your teeth (because things just don’t taste as good when your mouth tastes like mint!).
- Make it a rule not to eat while you watch TV.
- Plan your treats for the week. You won’t feel like there is a Cheetos shortage if you give yourself permission to eat them throughout thee week.
- Eat your treats in the afternoon when your willpower is stronger instead of at night when your willpower is weakest.
- Practice leaving ONE behind (one Cheeto, one bite of ice cream, one piece of candy…it was important for me to practice stopping before the bag/box was empty).
- Choose a relaxing behavior instead of eating (taking a bubble bath, reading a book, drawing, playing piano, Bible journaling, etc).
- Recite 1 Corinthians 10:13 (my favorite Bible verse to combat food cravings!).
- Make a list of “safe” foods (like apples, grapes, baby carrots, etc) and ONLY allow yourself to eat those foods after dinner.
- Drink 8oz of water before “allowing” yourself to eat anything.
- Set a timer for 10 minutes when your craving hits and wait until it rings before eating anything (this is the “pause” we talk about in the 3Ps to fight food cravings!).
- Chew on a piece of minty gum instead of eating.
- Store the foods you’re most tempted to snack on at night in inconvenient places (in a cabinet above the fridge, buried behind things in the back of the freezer or refrigerator, keep them out in the garage, etc).
- Walk 1,000 steps before eating anything (as you can see, I bartered with myself a LOT!).
- Set a certain time each night when the kitchen is closed for the night. Adding a physical barrier like a string across the doorway or a stool blocking the entrance can help.
- Make sure you eat a healthy, high-protein breakfast. It really does help reduce cravings, even much later that evening!
Setting Realistic Expectations
One of the frustrating parts of making one small change at a time is that drastic change doesn’t happen quickly.
I know how discouraging that feels when you’ve been fighting your bad habits for so long and it feels like you can never make progress (remember, I was a master yo-yo dieter!).
I’d encourage you to set realistic expectations from the beginning, mostly to save your own sanity!
You will not beat this habit practicing these small changes for a week. Or even a month.
Instead of expecting yourself to either be a nighttime snacker or not (the extremes), I’d highly encourage you to look for growth instead.
You are going to feel tempted to beat yourself up when you’ve gone 2 weeks without snacking at night and then one night you cave.
DON’T DO IT!
Celebrate the two weeks of success you had, learn from what happened that night you caved, and move forward (without the guilt).
Weight loss is really just one big experiment on yourself where you are figuring out the exact “formula” that works best for you.
Let trial AND error be a part of that and give yourself lots of time.
It’s time, practice, and consistency that will cement your new habits and make them lifelong changes.
You can do this! One small change at a time.