Is snacking at night the reason why you can’t obtain or maintain your goal weight? I struggled with late-night snacking for years. It wasn’t until I stopped snacking after dinner that I made a huge difference in my weight loss goals.
For most people, evenings are their downtime to relax, watch TV, and unwind from their day at work. Not surprisingly, this time of day is usually when snacking is most common. Unconscious eating usually happens after dinnertime, which leads to a large calorie intake at the end of the day.
If you eat healthy for the most part but usually binge on treats in the evening, then all that snacking is probably the reason why you might be retaining that extra weight.
Does that mean snacking is bad? Not necessarily. Snacking can be a strategy to control hunger and overall calorie intake if done smartly. Snacking occasionally is fine (especially when you make clean versions of your favourite treats). But when it’s done every day, it can really set you back from achieving the results you want.
Here are some snack-curbing strategies that worked for me:
If you want to avoid the temptation to snack on unhealthy treats after dinner, then you need to learn to plan ahead. Clean out your cupboards and remove all the unhealthy snacks. Write out your weekly meal plan so you have a good idea of what meals and snacks you’re having each day. Plan ahead, be prepared and remove temptations.
Shop the perimeter of the grocery store
The fresh produce section and meat and seafood departments are all located around the perimeter of the grocery store. This is where you should concentrate most of your shopping time. The middle isles are where the snacks are, so do your best to avoid them.
Up your water intake
Thirst comes before hunger, so you might just be thirsty when the snacking urge strikes. Drink a glass of water or two, wait 30 minutes, and see if the hunger persists.
Pump up the protein
Eat more protein at main meals. Having a diet high in protein has been scientifically proven to keep you full for longer.
Studies show that high protein breakfasts help to control appetite until the next meal and reduces unhealthy snacking in the evening. If you include more protein in all your main meals, you will notice the snacking urge decrease.
Fill up on fibre
Did you know that fibre regulates the speed of digestion and contributes to satiety? Like protein, foods rich in fibre keep you full for longer. That’s because eating too little fibre can make it tough to control blood sugar and appetite.
If you want to stop snacking at night, then start eating more fibre-rich foods, like lentils, beans, broccoli, avocados, pears, berries, oatmeal and whole wheat pasta.
Before you start snacking, take a minute to examine your emotions. Are you bored, sad or anxious?
Have you noticed that when you’re feeling down you tend to gravitate toward high-calorie, sweet, and fatty foods? Emotional eating plays a big part in the way people interact with food. When we’re bored, stressed, overwhelmed or anxious, we tend to seek food for comfort.
Snacks that are high in fat and sugar make us feel really good when we eat them, so it’s easy to see why so many people eat those snacks when they’re feeling less than spectacular.
Emotional eating leads to overeating so it’s important to take a moment to check in with how you’re feeling before you start snacking after dinner.
Learn to snack smart! A good-for-you snack is one that’s high in nutritional value (protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals) but also relatively low in calories, total fat, saturated fat, sugar and sodium.
Here are some healthier snacking alternatives:
- Fruit (a huge variety to choose from here)
- Veggie sticks with hummus
- Raw fruit and vegetable juices
- Acai bowls
- Peanut butter protein balls (I love this recipe)
- Protein bars
- Greek yogurt with your favourite toppings
- Tuna and crackers
- Unsalted almonds
- Red bell pepper dipped into guacamole
- Apple wedges dipped into almond butter
- Cottage cheese
- Boiled eggs
- Air popped popcorn
- Roasted chickpeas
- Avocado toast
- Frozen grapes
- Medjool dates
- Dark chocolate
- Kale chips
- Roasted brussel sprouts
- Rice cakes
- Bean salad
- Coconut flakes
- Banana nice-cream
- Baked sweet potato chips
- Plain baked potato
- Mixed nuts