Nighttime Snacking: 7 Steps to a Healthier Evening

When the urge to snack late at night hits us, most of us aren’t craving a piece of fruit or a serving of vegetables. Often we’re not even really hungry! It’s tempting to reach for chips, candy or another serving of dinner and eat extra calories, sodium, and saturated fat that our body doesn’t need. Here are some tips to help you avoid unnecessary night time snacking:

  1. Eat enough during the day – If you are actually hungry at night, it’s possible that you are not eating enough during the day, or that you’re not eating enough protein. Make sure you eat well balanced meals that contain protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Try this recipe for a Chicken and Spinach Bake that is sure to keep you full.
  2. Have a planned nighttime snack – Maybe there’s just too much time between dinner and bed for you, so you’re going to get hungry. Choose a healthy snack right after dinner and put it out for later. You’re much more likely to make a healthy choice when you’re not already hungry. How about this roasted pumpkin seed snack mix?
  3. Drink some water – Sometimes what feels like hunger is actually thirst. Try drinking a glass of water first when the late night snack urge hits. Wait at least 10 minutes before deciding on a snack.
  4. Close the kitchen – After dinner is cleaned up, put away any food that’s in sight, turn off the kitchen light and tell yourself the kitchen is closed.
  5. Brush your teeth – Right after dinner, brush and floss. The thought of having to do it again may stop you from reaching for a snack.
  6. Pick a hobby– Make a plan for the time after dinner, then follow through. Call a friend, go for a walk, play a game with your kids, knit, read a book – whatever you enjoy doing. Keeping yourself busy may keep you from thinking about snacking.
  7. Go to bed – Being tired can make you feel hungry. Try going to bed if the snacking urge hits late at night. You’ll not only feel better in the morning, but you’ll be less tired and less likely to snack the next night.

Written by Kate Terry, Graduate Student in Nutrition at Boston University