Do you eat too much at night? Here are 4 strategies to curb nighttime snacking

  • 3 Minutes Read
Sue Heikkinen
Sue Heikkinen, MS, RDN, CDCES, BC-ADM, ACE-PT - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Do you stay on track all day, only to find you've exceeded your calorie budget after nighttime snacking? Is this habit making it hard to lose weight? Here are 4 tips to help you stop eating at night

Nighttime snacking

How cutting out nighttime snacking can help you lose weight

Although what you eat matters more than when you eat, cutting out snacks at night may give you a calorie-burning advantage. Your circadian rhythm, or internal body clock, is likely designed for daytime eating. At the same time, your digestion and metabolism slow at night. Nighttime snacks are off-limits if you follow an intermittent fasting weight-loss plan and limit your eating to certain hours of the day.

If you are struggling to meet your weight-loss goal, try cutting out snacking after dinnertime.

Note: If you have diabetes, check with your doctor or diabetes educator to see if an evening snack is necessary for your plan.

Here are our top 4 tips to curb nighttime snacking

1. Keep track of the time

Experiment with eating all of your meals and snacks within a 12-hour period. An example might be, "I will only eat between 7 am and 7 pm." There is no one best 12-hour window, though research suggests that eating more of your calories earlier in the day better supports weight loss. The exact window depends on your lifestyle and schedule.

Easily keep track of the time of your food intake with MyNetDiary by enabling Timestamp in App Settings. Tracking the time of your meals and snacks will help you notice your eating patterns and your distribution of calories throughout the day.

2. Ask yourself if you are truly hungry

Before reaching for a box of crackers, check in with your hunger level. Is it possible that boredom, fatigue, stress, or habits are driving you to eat? Logging your foods with MyNetDiary is an excellent way to increase awareness of your reasons for eating. Review these reasons for nighttime eating and how to put the brakes on them below.

Out of habit?

Emotional reasons?

Just hungry?

3. Choose wisely, eat mindfully, and move on

Choosing to have a nighttime snack will not undo your weight-loss efforts. Be prepared by keeping healthy snack options on hand, so the high-calorie treats aren't so tempting.

Eat mindfully. Take the time to taste and appreciate your food without guilt and increase your level of satisfaction. Sit down at the table, and eat from a plate or bowl instead of eating from the package or in front of the TV. Choose foods that take time to eat, such as popcorn, oranges, and pistachios. Portion-controlled snacks can also help limit overeating.

Above all, don't be hard on yourself. Guilt or a sense of "blowing it" can lead to even more eating. Likewise, don't "repent" the next day by skipping breakfast or overly depriving yourself. Log your snack, learn from the experience, and you will be better prepared to manage your triggers in the future.

4. Tune-up your bedtime routine

Does late-night eating add to sleep woes? Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep. Perhaps you are eating to keep yourself awake and alert when your body is actually telling you to sleep. In addition to making you feel groggy, poor sleep can affect your metabolism and hunger hormones.

Try to keep a consistent bedtime routine and limit exposure to light from electronics. Check out these tips for getting better sleep from the National Sleep Foundation.

Is it something more than just nighttime snacking?

If you feel a loss of control with your nighttime eating and eat a large amount of food during these episodes, you may be struggling with binge eating disorder. Nighttime eating is also linked with night eating syndrome, an eating, mood, and sleep-cycle disorder. Ask your healthcare provider for help treating these conditions.

Adapted from original content by Kathy Isacks, MPS, RDN, CDCES.

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Diabetes->Health Meal Planning & Diets->Healthy Eating
Sep 18, 2020
Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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