Binge eating at night will sabotage your weight loss goals. Learning how to stop eating at night (after dinner) is key to keeping your weight under control.
If you don’t stop eating at night, you simply store all the extra calories you’re eating as fat. Best practice for weight loss — eat for what you’re going to do for the next 3 or 4 hours. If all you’re doing after dinner is sitting on the couch before bed, all that nighttime snacking is just piling up calories that you will not be burning!
So how do you stop eating late at night?
Here are my 4 best ways to quit eating after dinner:
1) Late night eating habits and associations
Your late night snacking habits may simply be that – an unconscious habit that comes from a simple association.
If in the past you’ve regularly pulled out the snacks when it’s movie time, your brain has built that habit (kind of like the old-fashioned Pavlovian dog response!).
The brain has learned that movie time = time to get out the snacks — whether you actually want them or not.
Similar associations can be built around any event, like TV commercials or the clock striking 9 pm. If you’ve built the habit of reaching for food when those events happen, your eating at night may simply be an unconscious association habit.
So watch out for a regular “signal” to your brain that isn’t actually hunger.
Stopping nighttime eating of this type may simply be a matter of recognizing a typical external cue, and reprogramming your brain to do something besides eat when the ‘signal event’ happens.
2) Dehydration can trigger binge eating at night
Our brain’s hunger center is the hypothalamus, which is also the part of the brain responsible for thirst. If you haven’t had enough water to drink, the ‘thirsty’ signal can be misinterpreted as hunger. The brain wants water, but you’ve conditioned yourself to reach for snacks instead.
So when the late-night eating urges strike, drink a glass of water first. Wait 15 minutes and see if you’re actually hungry before your dive into late night eating.
3) Find alternative (healthier) snack foods
Clients who want to stop eating at night will frequently report that they have a craving for something crunchy or something sweet. Cravings can often be satisfied with a healthier substitute. For example, raw vegetables are crunchy and those may very well satisfy your desire to crunch crunch crunch!
Another substitution tip is to insert the healthier option into the mix so that you snack on half chips and half veggies.
Instead of trying to willpower against the crunchy pretzels or potato chips, you can still have some, but you’ve cut your chip intake in half!
A handful of blueberries or a few fresh strawberries make a great healthier upgrade if you want something sweet.
So instead of denying yourself what you want, pick a healthier option that gives you what your crave!
4) Late night eating can be a distraction
One of the hallmarks of Emotional Eating is using food as a distraction from uncomfortable emotions.
After work is done for the day and dinner is finished, our major daily distractions are over.
Enter noticing your stress, or loneliness, or overwhelm, or myriad other unpleasant feelings that are now in your face.
Late night snacking makes for a great distraction!
If you are using nighttime eating as a distraction, your main mission is to come up with some healthier distractions that don’t involve food.
If you can add 4 or 5 non-food items into your distraction “toolbox”, you now have an arsenal that you can choose from.
You may still pick snacks here and there, but at least you have a toolbox to work from instead of just the one Snacking tool!
Just like the half-and-half substitution cure mentioned above, if you turn to a food distraction just 25% of the time instead of every time, you’ve made a HUGE reduction in your unwanted food intake.
I’ve build my career helping people overcome emotional eating, stress habits, and sugar addiction, so if you need some help with any of this, just drop me a note and we’ll find a time to talk. You don’t have to struggle and figure this out on your own!
Your friend and Coach,