12 Ways to Deal With Nighttime Munchies

Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
by Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
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12 Ways to Deal With Nighttime Munchies

After a full day of keeping willpower on high, sometimes it’s only a matter of time before we drop our guard and fall victim to the dreaded midnight snack attack. So, if willpower has wilted away by the end of a long day, here are 12 helpful tips for handling nighttime eating.

1

REMOVE TEMPTATION

Out of sight out of mind. Yes, we can always jump in the car to grab a milkshake, but we are less likely to do that than dig into the tub of ice cream if we keep it in the house. If you have a healthy relationship with food, keeping a healthy distance from your pitfall snacks can beat the unhealthy nighttime noshing.

2

EAT A BALANCED DINNER

Balanced nutrition and eating meals with protein, fat, carbs and fiber (aka fruits and vegetables) throughout the day helps manage nighttime munchies. If you’re cutting back on carbs or fat, you may notice you’re craving sweets (a hefty source of both). A balanced meal leaves you more satisfied and less likely to be physically hungry and crave munchies.

3

WATCH PORTIONS

If you’re going to snack, being mindful of how much you need to satisfy that craving is key to healthy eating. Plate a snack instead of eating out of a box or bag or grab a pre-portioned snack, and notice your enjoyment as you’re eating instead of mindlessly munching until the box or bag is polished off.

4

ADOPT A NEW HABIT OR ROUTINE

You may not find yourself tempted with food during the day because you’re busy, but when nighttime rolls around, it’s harder to resist the urge to eat because it’s a time to relax and be still. So do something else instead of eating — read a book, plan your agenda for tomorrow or do some self care by taking a hot bath or painting your nails.


READ MORE > BEST THINGS TO EAT…IF YOU NEED A MIDNIGHT SNACK


5

CREATE SNACK ALTERNATIVES

This hack is vital. Nighttime munchies are real and sometimes we just want the taste of something after dinner, but decadent and unhealthy snacks are not what our body really needs day in and day out. Create healthy snack alternatives that add to your nutrition. If you’re craving sweets, try a protein shake, enjoy a bowl of cottage cheese with fruit and mini chocolate chips, Greek yogurt or homemade energy bites. If salt is more your thing, try these Ham Spinach Egg Cups, a cheese stick, beef jerky, steamed edamame with sea salt or air-popped popcorn make great salty snacks.

6

BUILD SNACKS INTO YOUR MEAL PLAN

If you’re currently tracking your food and fitness plan on MyFitnessPal, and know you usually want something after dinner, build that snack into your meal plan to help give yourself permission to eat.

7

HAVE DESSERT

Swearing off sweets or chips may make the cravings intensify. Nighttime munchies can become a mental battle if you tell yourself you cannot have something, so go ahead and indulge your wildside, just not every night. It will likely only take a small portion to satisfy that craving.

8

SIP HOT TEA

If you surveyed how to keep on track with healthy eating, one success tip is to stay on top of hydration throughout the day. Sipping hot tea at night adds to daily hydration and that warm beverage aids feelings of satisfaction. If you’re not into tea and want something other than water to drink, try unsweetened almond milk or calorie-free sparkling water.

9

POP A MINT

Minty fresh breath is a signal to the brain for many people that “the kitchen is closed.” Chewing gum or eating a breath mint, brushing teeth or even sipping peppermint tea is a tried and true tactic to stop eating and may work when dealing with after-dinner munchies.


READ MORE > SLEEP EXPERT DR. G ON THE WEIGHT LOSS-SLEEP CONNECTION


10

GO TO SLEEP

Now I’m not saying go to bed hungry — refer to tip number 3. But getting to bed at a healthy hour can kick a munchie habit. Getting to bed early also helps with rocking goals the next day, too, so you can get up earlier to work out and have the mental (and hormonal) stamina to eat healthy and balanced.

11

BAD HABIT OR BINGE?

If nighttime munchies have become a routine, it’s possible to kick the habit on your own. On the other hand, if this issue has taken over your life and become a binge habit or obsession, you may need to reach out to a friend and/or professional for support.

12

EAT IF YOU’RE HUNGRY

Going to bed hungry is an awful feeling and will likely backfire at some point either with ditching those “healthy” eating habits because hunger is not sustainable and could lead to binging. So if you’re truly hungry after dark, grab a protein and/or fiber-rich snack or small meal to fill you up.

About the Author

Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN

Kristina is a board certified sports dietitian located in Orlando, Florida where she specializes in intuitive and mindful eating. She is the author of the food and nutrition blog, Love & Zest where she shares {mostly} healthy recipes with simple ingredients that are meant for real life. As a new mom, she knows that eating well and living an active lifestyle isn’t always easy… but it’s always worth it!! Kristina loves spending time outdoors with her family, sweaty workouts, and a good cup of coffee. Get in touch with her for one-on-one nutrition coaching (virtually or in person), or connect with her on PinterestInstagramFacebook  and YouTube.

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13 responses to “12 Ways to Deal With Nighttime Munchies”

  1. Jacki Marie says:

    What is the food pictured in the main article photo? Looks like some sort of peanut butter oat raisin snack? Came here for that specifically…..

    • Laura Siok Baganha says:

      Me too!!! (I could really use one of those right about now!)

      • TheAntiSocialist says:

        Lov the snack advice. I have a system where my exercise equipment reads out the calories used in the session and what I do is match the snack calorie count to the exercise cal count but I give my self 10% more exercise than snack. It’s anazing what you have to do for a cookie!! It’s a hard lesson but I am losing weight. Fiber! Fiber!! Fiber!!!
        It would be nice for those who want to print out your articles to lay them out to reduce paper use. Blank and pictures use up paper and ink and are a needless waste. Thanks

  2. Jacki Marie says:

    Oooh yum!! Thanks Michelle!

  3. Diane O'Hare says:

    thanks for sharing this recipe. Do you have a suggestion as to what protein powder to buy? I have not found one yet that I like.

    • Nikki says:

      Try Genepro medical grade protein powder. Flavorless and 1 tablespoon is 30 grams of protein. Yes, just 1 tbs. I put half of that in my coffee every morning, so I get 15 grams of protein just drinking my coffee. It would probably work really well with this recipe and you won’t taste it and it won’t add too much dry product with only 1 tbs or even 2 tbs. If you do put it in anything extremely hot/cold, you need to dissolve it in room temp water first, but if you are just rolling it into the recipe above, you won’t need to do that.

      • Diane O'Hare says:

        Wow! Thank you so much for the info. Looking forward to trying it. Love the idea of adding it to my morning coffee. 🙂

        • Nikki says:

          Most welcome. I’m a bariatric post-op and we need protein where we can get it. Just remember to dissolve it in room temp because extreme hot will not allow it to dissolve. Same if you want to put into ice tea, got to dissolve it in room temp first.

  4. Valencia J Jones says:

    Thanks Beautiful

  5. Michelle Kuhn says:

    I find brushing my teeth helps. If I’m truly hungry, then I will get a snack, but brushing my teeth usually solves “roaming through the kitchen” just looking for something.

  6. Nancy Irwin says:

    Kristina LaRue, I followed the link especially to see the recipe for the picture shown above. I don’t see it anywhere. Why use a beautiful picture like that and not let people know how to make it. I know someone shared a similar version, but this one definitely has raisins. Please share the recipe that goes with the picture.

  7. Nancy says:

    I agree – I want the recipe for the oatmeal raisin balls pictured! please.

  8. Louisa says:

    Thanks!

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