Do you find yourself eating healthy most of the day until you start snacking at night? If so, you’re certainly not alone. Binge snacking at night can result from a number of factors, including:
- Not eating enough during the day
- Eating due to boredom, stress, anger, or sadness
- A hormonal imbalance that causes severe increases in appetite
Eating a lot of food in a short amount of time, regardless of how hungry you are, can have negative effects on your physical and mental health. Over time, binge snacking can make you more likely to gain weight. Extra weight gain puts you at an increased risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions.
Curb Your Mindless Eating
Whatever the root cause of your evening binge snacking is, here are five tips to keep things under control, so you eat healthier all day – and all night:
Prioritize Healthy Habits
You may be overeating at night because your body is compensating for something it needs. Perhaps you aren’t eating enough during the day, which leads to insatiable hunger in the evening.
Or maybe you aren’t getting adequate sleep, which leaves your body feeling tired and craving carbohydrate-rich foods. Or you may be trying to silence the stress of the day by eating your feelings at night. Prioritizing healthy habits throughout the day helps you combat evening munchies.
Ways to Manage Your Emotions
Do you often grab cookies, chips, or “fill in the blank” when you feel stressed, sad, angry, or bored? Find other ways to manage those emotions that don’t have to do with food.
Some people find talking to a friend, going for a run, or screaming into a pillow helps them deal with how they feel rather than binge snacking.
You may also want to consider seeking professional help from a mental health or weight-loss expert to help you manage triggering feelings instead of turning to food for comfort.
Pre-portion Snack Food
It’s okay to have a snack at night – or at other times of the day. But sometimes you don’t realize how much you’re eating when you’re distracted. Overeating can occur when you crack open a bag of your favorite snack food and mindlessly chomp away.
Instead of depending on your willpower or power of observation to not overeat, pre-portion snacks, so you don’t overdo it. Buy single-serving bags at the store. Or buy bigger bags and portion out servings when you get home, so they’re ready to grab.
Or, if you haven’t thought that much ahead, put a single serving into a bowl or on a plate and then put the rest of the bag away before you start eating. There are plenty of snack foods already portioned out for you – like frozen fruit pops, string cheese, or whole fruits like apples and pears.
Healthy Snack Ideas
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Eat Enough Protein
Poultry, meat, fish, eggs, tofu, beans, nuts, and cheese are all good sources of protein. Enjoying them at mealtime may help reduce the likelihood of overeating later in the day. Data suggests that eating high-protein meals during the day may cut the desire to binge snack at night in half.
Drink a Glass of Water
Very often, people turn to food when they are actually just thirsty, not hungry. When you feel the urge to eat, drink some water or another low-sugar beverage first to make sure you aren’t mistaking thirst with hunger.
Not only may taking a few sips to satisfy your thirst and take away the urge to eat, but even if it doesn’t, it makes you more aware of your actions, so you don’t just mindlessly turn to food.
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