Tips to Avoid Nighttime Eating

Tips to Avoid Nighttime Eating - Andie Mitchell (photo by natasha breen)

When I was overweight I was a night owl. In college, I loved staying up late. I would either do my work or chat with friends or get lost down an imdb wormhole. And if I would get hungry I would order some wings for a late night meal. After I lost weight the night started to feel eternal. My activities lost their fun without the promise of an indulgent midnight snack. So over the past 10 years I have become more of a morning person.

Night is still the biggest struggle for me when it comes to staying on a healthy path, so I have tried to develop some go-to nighttime habits to help me avoid destructive thoughts and behavior.

Tips to Avoid Nighttime Eating

Make a Cup of Tea

Sipping a hot tea (or coffee, if you can handle the caffeine) not only takes some time to drink, but it also feels soothing and filling, too.

Pamper

To me, there’s nothing more relaxing than melting into a hot bath at the end of the day. Add a face mask and I’m in heaven. Consider adding a self-care ritual like a bath (or a shower, if that’s more your thing) with great-smelling/ultra-calming lavender body wash or bubble bath.

Add-on: mani/pedi

Read

I love a good book, but my relationship with reading is like my addictive relationship with a lot of things: either I’m reading voraciously or not at all, for months. I’m reminded though, when I do pick up a real page-turner, that reading is something I should do more regularly because it fills me up and adds a richness to my life that I love.

Get into a TV Show

Finding a new TV series is such a treat. For a minute there, Daniel and I were really into watching true crime shows together. It started with the JonBenet Ramsey series in the fall, then we watched The Staircase and Paradise Lost. Every night, I’d look forward to watching an episode or three, knowing they were engaging enough that I didn’t need any other distractions (like my phone, my laptop, or snacks…). With thousands and thousands of shows on TV and online, I’m sure you can find something similar if you haven’t already.

Get Creative

No matter how old I get, I’ll always indulge my crafty side with some poorly planned/poorly executed art project. Art is just plain fun. Try watercolor, adult coloring books, learn calligraphy, or make one of these homemade bath and beauty products. http://www.thekitchn.com/10-homemade-bath-amp-beauty-luxuries-from-the-kitchen-238535

Pick a Go-To Nighttime Snack

There’s nothing wrong with eating at night—as long as you’re not overeating at night. Deciding on a particular snack to have and creating a last-bite-of-the-day ritual around it can help you signal to your brain that now the kitchen’s closed, the day is over.

Journal

While I don’t journal all the time—not nearly as much as I once did—I find the act of journaling to be so helpful. Not only can it be a useful tool for keeping track of what you eat, but if you journal what you’re feeling, it’s also pretty cathartic. Consider carving out 10 minutes every night to write about your day—vent about your stressors, share something you’re grateful for, and set your intention for tomorrow.

Your turn! What are your tips for avoiding nighttime eating? 

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17 thoughts on “Tips to Avoid Nighttime Eating

  1. Sarah M

    THis might sound lame but I brush my teeth about an hour after dinner to avoid night-time eating completely. I’m so lazy and the night time routine of taking off my makeup, brushing teeth, etc. is not one I love, so I’m not doing it twice! Once I’ve brushed, my brain says, ‘ok, no more food, then!’

    It’s simply but I’ve tricked myself into doing it and it works about 99% of the time!

    Reply
    1. Mal

      I’m not much of a night owl, but this is actually a great tip and it works for me too. It can work during the day just as well, like brushing your teeth after lunch to avoid snacking at least for a while until you’re actually physically hungry again. I find that minty taste to be one that I simply don’t want to mix with anything else because it just makes for an unappetizing combination. Therefore, my desire to eat something kind of vanishes. It might come back after a while, but just like you I’m so lazy at night that brushing and flossing once is my absolute limit. Sometimes being lazy actually prevents weight gain!

      Reply
    2. Rebekah

      I do this too Sarah! Nothing tastes good mixed with toothpaste, and squeaky clean teeth and fresh breath are an added bonus!

      Oh, and amen about the whole nighttime ritual thing! One time and one time only! (:

      Reply
    3. sassygirl

      this is a tried and true “avoid the pitfalls of eating late at night” trick.
      i myself do it, and heard about it at a WW meeting.
      great idea.
      :)

      Reply
  2. Melissa

    Ooh, yes, these are great, Andie! I would add to the teeth brushing, using ACT mouthwash. My dentist recommended I use it (my poor teeth!), but it’s good to use after dinner because you can’t eat or drink for 30 minutes after you use it. By then, the urge to eat has passed and I’m onto something else.

    I love to do bedtime yoga or stretching (I’ve actually found that yoga before OR after dinner makes me less likely to snack after eating). I have a great salt scrub that I like to use in the shower sometimes, too.

    Reply
  3. Nancy Cavillones

    I go to bed! Sometimes, I just shut off my computer and crawl into bed to avoid the urge to eat late at night. I also try to catch myself being mindless and tell myself that I’m not really hungry, I’m just bored.

    Reply
  4. Willow Skye

    I have tea and a large glass of sparkling water in a wine glass
    Sometimes I add apple cider vinegar to sparkling water which tastes so good and kinda kill the snack craving.
    If I really cannot shut off the craving I either grab a small teaspoon of crunchy peanut butter that I eat slowly or a few unsweetened roasted coconut flakes. It does the trick.
    Also, I stay away from the kitchen after dinner and turn the light off.

    Reply
  5. Carly

    When I feel a terrible urge to snack at night, I sometimes take my dog for a walk instead. Just seeing the joy on his face when I propose a walk is enough to forget about food. And by the time I get home, the initial craving has gone away.

    Reply
    1. Melanie

      That’s a super great idea! I often feel that I ignore my dog in favor of vegging out when I get home. He gets so excited to just be outside and sniff at the grass, that it’s also a helpful reminder to live in the moment and be able to appreciate the small things.

      Reply
  6. Erin Pullmann

    Mine is kind of a cheat but I eat late dinners to curb nighhtime snacking. My routine is to work out when I get home from the office and then make dinner. I usually eat dinner around 8. That way I stay full from dinner and am content with something very small for dessert like a little square of dark chocolate. Some people claim you shouldn’t eat past 6 or 7pm, but if I do that I get snacky around 9 and all heck breaks loose.

    Reply
    1. Sherrie L. Scharbrough

      This is exactly what wde have started doing!!! We eat late around 8pm so I don’t have as much time to get into stuff. I have to fight with myself about getting up and eating in the night. Never had this problem until I had weight loss surgery and lost 124#’s. It is a bad habit!!

      Reply
  7. Tianna

    I prep my snack just after supper when I’m not hungry. An orange and a piece of cheese, or an apple and 10 almonds, for example. When I eat it at night I tell myself that’s enough. My hubby and I have tea every night so we drink a glass of tea while I slowly munch on my small snack. Keeps me from waking up hungry in the middle of the night.

    Reply
  8. MaryC

    Unfortunately, I don’t have great tips to avoid night eating because since I’ve been taking a medication(much needed)that tends toward extra hunger/weight gain, I literally cannot seem to keep from eating, late, at least 4 nights each week. I do do some of what you mention, but now reading makes me hungry & creative activities do as well. Ha! I do like the sipping (decaf)coffee idea though. I’ll try.

    Reply
    1. Sandy

      Mary C, I have exactly the same problem. I think my bedtime meds that I take at 8 pm increase my appetite. I know 2 of them do and it’s really a war. I end up eating at night. We have to eat dinner early now too since my husband starts work really early so by the time my meds are kicking in good I’m starving as well because it’s been like 4+ hrs since dinner. Brushing my teeth doesn’t help. I really think if I could miraculously NOT take the first bite of anything I might be ok. I have every intention of just having a small something, but then I realize how hungry I am and cannot stop until I’m no longer starving. It’s also made me become a night owl. I don’t do tea regularly, but maybe I’ll try to do it more regularly and hope that I’m not so hungry I can go to sleep. It’s really quite the challenge isn’t it?

      Reply
  9. Carrie @ Season It Already!

    I’m with you on the tea and reading! Rituals are huge to success. I discovered ginger tea while I was on a yoga retreat and it is my new safehaven. Good for digestion, too! Sometimes I will sip it and eat a clementine or two if I really feel I need/want to eat something.

    The ginger-turmeric tea from Trader Joe’s is excellent, too!

    Reply

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