You've made it a whole day without slipping up.
You've brought your lunch and you've spent the time to make sure you would have everything during the day. It's now time to clock out and go home.
What we do after we leave work and are surrounded by temptations is where many battles are lost.
Is it willpower? Could be. Is it temptation? Probably.
So if you struggle with nighttime munchies and cravings, here are 12 ways you can keep your diet in check.
12 Ways to Fight Nighttime Food Cravings
#1 - Remove All Temptations
If you're like me, knowing you have something special to eat in the kitchen is like having a $20 burning a hole in your pocket. It's all you think about.
You tell yourself that you will get this and this done, and you can go have some of it, right? Me too.
You finally break down and go eat it anyways - all of it.
Since you're like me, removing all temptations from the house is a must. It's hard to eat a pint of ice cream if it's not in the house, right?
You probably won't jump in the car to go get a milkshake, so keeping distance from an endless snack bar known as a pantry is a must.
If you don't have it, you can't eat it.
#2 - Eat a Balanced Dinner
Picking a good variety of foods for dinner helps manage your munchies. Balancing your nutrition so that you get adequate protein, carbs, fats, and fiber helps keep munchies away.
Tips For Being More Satisfied:
- Eat more fats
- Get more fiber
- Get plenty of protein
Eating more fats and fiber in your meal will fill you up and keep you feeling full longer.
#3 - Keep Portion Size in Check
Getting a snack in at night isn't bad for you. Seriously.
What is bad for you is that you grab a bag of chips and eat the whole thing.
Plating or portioning a reasonable portion allows you to enjoy a snack without polishing off 8 servings worth.
If you are lazy like me at night, you won't want to go get more.
#4 - Start a New Routine
If you stay busy during the day, coming home and relaxing can be time to open the food floodgates.
As soon as you come home you start grabbing food and eating it while you cook something for dinner. You sit down and eat what you've cooked, but you're still hungry.
Sitting around eating all night isn't good. Instead, try creating a new nighttime habit.
Here Are a Few Ideas to Try:
- Adult coloring books
- Read a book
- Plan your week out
- Write in a journal
#5 - Change the Snacks You Eat
Getting nighttime munchies is normal for a lot of us. We eat a healthy dinner, but we still want something else.
Creating healthy snack alternatives to your usual chips or cookies will add nutrition to your diet and keep the calories lower.
Try These Snack Alternatives Out:
- Protein shake
- Cottage cheese - add fruit for extra flavor
- Greek yogurt
- Cheese stick
- Beef jerky
- Air-popped popcorn
These snacks used to be the opposite spectrum of what I wanted to eat. If it didn't come out of a bag or an ice cream container, I didn't want it.
But now I eat these. I stay fuller longer, I don't keep adding pounds to my weight, and I actually enjoy eating them. Try finding an alternative to your normal snacks, it could be the change you need.
#6 - Throw Yourself a Bone
Having that sweet treat or salty snack isn't bad. Remember, moderation is key.
If you are tracking your food intake (you are, right?), you can plan in something to eat after dinner.
Cutting back on your portions throughout the day will free up enough calories that you can have your snack and eat it too.
Giving yourself permission to eat a snack feels great. Be sure to properly portion out your snacks so you do not have to guess how much you can eat.
#7 - Eat a Dessert
Similar to above, if you just HAVE to have a dessert after dinner, plan for it to happen.
Indulging in your wild side only takes a small portion to satisfy that craving. If you've ever been halfway through eating a treat and you've lost that "yum" factor, that's your body telling you it's done.
So instead of fighting that mental battle of swearing off chips or sweets, prepare for it and enjoy.
#8 - Try Hot Tea
Staying hydrated helps us with hunger, along with a slew of other benefits.
Sipping on hot tea at night adds hydration and the warm beverage will encourage feelings of satisfaction.
#9 - Eat a Mint
Eating a mint or brushing your teeth earlier at night could help you keep from eating more.
The minty breath to most of us is a signal that the "kitchen is closed."
Chewing gum, eating a breath mint, or brushing your teeth is a tried and true tactic to deal with after-dinner munchies.
#10 - Get to Bed Early
While going to bed hungry sucks, but if you can disrupt your nightly routine, it could kick your munchie habit.
Going to bed early also prepares you for the next day so you can get up and have the stamina to stay eating healthy.
#11 - Are You Binging?
Having something at night can become a habit. If this has taken over your life, it's become a binge habit.
I would invite you to reach out to a friend or professional if eating at night is more of a hidden binge instead of just dinner.
Trust me, reach out to someone.
#12 - Eat If You Are Really Hungry
The longer you stay hungry, the harder it is to stick to healthy eating habits. Hunger is not sustainable and it eventually will lead to a binge session.
If you are truly hungry at night, grabbing a protein bar, protein shake, or fiber-rich snack will fill you up and help you get a good night's sleep.
Wrapping It Up
Look, we can all laugh how we polished off that bag of chips while watching Netflix. We all do it.
The problem comes when we do that nightly, as a ritual.
Eventually, you'll see yourself in the mirror and wonder "what went wrong?" The answer, unfortunately, is you've developed bad habits.
Slowly change and get a control of your calories. You don't even need to change what you eat - just how much.
Take any small wins as a success - breaking down a big bag of white cheddar popcorn into serving baggies is huge.
Plan your meals, know exactly what you are eating, and plan in the fun calories. It's true, you can have your cake and eat it too.