How to Stop Snacking at Night

I notice that a lot of our patients struggle with snacking at night.  This is something I’ve struggled with too, so I’ve put together some of my favorite tips so you can get into a better rhythm.

1. Nourish yourself during the day.
If you’re running around and stressed all day, you may look to food (or alcohol) to calm you down at night. But if you’re taking good care of yourself during the day  – eating satisfying, balanced meals, practicing mindful breathing, laughing & loving, drinking water, getting some fresh air, breaking a sweat – you’ll feel more relaxed in the evening.

2. Eat a satisfying dinner.
Don’t eat a wimpy dinner and then wonder why you keep heading back to the fridge all night. Eat a satisfying dinner with protein, some healthy fats and veggies. Pay attention to how you feel after your meal — are you satisfied?  If you’re craving warm foods, have some soup with dinner. If you’re craving crunch, have a salad with crunchy veggies. If you’re craving sweets, have some roasted sweet potatoes, squash or carrots.

3. Take glutamine. 
Take 2 glutamine capsules every 4 hours throughout the day, and don’t forget to take them at night to help with cravings. These will be absorbed best on an empty stomach.

4. Drink tea. 
I like to make a cup of vanilla tea, and add a bit of almond milk and stevia. The tea ritual is comforting, relaxing, a nice way to wind down.  And especially if other people in the household are snacking, it’s nice to have something in your hands.  Sometimes I have magnesium CALM powder hot water at night … it’s sweetened with stevia and is very soothing.

6. “Close” the kitchen. 
Are you hanging out in or near the kitchen after dinner, sneaking cookies or M&Ms? After dinner, close down the kitchen for the night. Create a ritual around this – maybe that means turning the lights off, putting away the dinner dishes, or moving your laptop to a different room. Don’t come back to the kitchen until morning!

7. Get the sweets out of the house.
You can’t snack on it if it’s not there! Give your pantry a good makeover, getting rid of the junk food and your personal trigger foods. Keep only healthy snacks around – such as apples, cucumbers, carrot sticks and hummus.

8. Choose a relaxing activity that’s not food-related.
It always drives me crazy when people recommend taking a hot bath, calling a friend, or taking a walk instead of snacking, because those just aren’t realistic for me.  But … find something that IS realistic for you. I like to read a book or sometimes I get on the floor to stretch or use the foam roller to get a little back massage while watching TV.  If the tennis ball hasn’t rolled too far under the couch, I might roll around on that for a little neck and shoulder release.

9. Get support.
Tell someone about your intention to stop snacking at night, and ask for support.  Maybe you need encouragement or some tough love, or maybe just saying it out loud will help to keep you accountable.  It’s especially helpful to have someone in the house supporting you if possible. And let them know the reason – for me it wasn’t about weight loss, but about giving my digestive system a chance to rest at night. This makes me feel much better rested and less groggy in the morning.

10. Trust that this urge will pass. 
We are such creatures of habit! If you ate sweets last night, your body wants and expects snacks again tonight. It can be uncomfortable to break habits and create new ones.  Trust that as you create new habits, this discomfort will pass (probably much quicker than you expect).

Choose one or two of these tips that you can start implementing right away and let us how it goes!

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  • Elaine Springer

    Yes, I struggle with this from time to time. I usually wait to see if the hungry feeling will pass, if it doesn’t and I cannot sleep I snack on something light and healthy.  Last night I had a pear, an apple and then some dandelion salad with light whole wheat crackers. Sometimes I feel like a bottomless pit although I do nourish myself well during the day.   I will start taking the glutamine and see it that helps. Many thanks for addressing the issue. Even though my late night snacks are healthy I often feel bad for giving into them.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s one that works for me — floss your teeth thoroughly after dinner while watching TV, then brush them.  You will be reluctant to negate that work by eating again.

  • Kerry

    That’s a great idea!  Kerry

  • Trisha

    How much in each pill of glutamine?  I see some pills 1500mg and others at 100mg?  Thanks!

  • Marzz

    My problem is Im bored and just stuck in a bad habit. My husband works second shift, we have no kids, so when i get home it’s 6:30 and Im starving, I eat dinner then I watch tv and then I raid the cabinet! During the day I eat really well, drink my water, exercise. I just need to break my very bad habit, it’s sabotaging me. Im going to try some tea and learn how to knit! Thanks for your tips!

  • uncleboo

    Something a friend told me that still holds weight. If your not hungry enough to eat an apple, your just bored.