Preventing Late Night Snacking

Hallelujah for healthy food!

At Long Last: A Healthy Lunch

Though I thoroughly enjoyed more than one ten yummy indulgences this past weekend, my  body is happy to be back to being fueled by nutritious food rather than the inordinate amounts of cheese  found on a slice of deep dish pizza.(Seriously, how good is deep dish pizza? Love that stuff.)

Today’s lunch included a mixed veggie salad comprised of:

Colorful + Nutritious

"Hummus, Hummus, I Got the Hummus!" -Phoebe Buffay

On the side I enjoyed a large plum and a stick of Sargento Colby-Jack cheese.

Plumtastic!

Oh vitamins and healthy food, how I’ve missed you! 😀

Now on to some not-so-healthy food discussion…

Preventing the Late Night Snack Attack

We’ve all done it. We’ve all felt sleepy and knew it was time for bed, but instead meandered into the kitchen only to indulge in a late night snack attack.

My late night snacking was at an all-time high this past weekend. When we arrived home after a night of partying it up bachelorette party-style, my friends and I all found ourselves knee-deep in tortilla chips, salsa, Baked Lays and French onion dip.

Before the Attack of the Tortilla Chips

The next morning, we all asked ourselves the same question: Why?

Why did we feel the need to gorge on copious amounts of chips and dip like we’d never get a chance to eat them again?

I’m going to go ahead and chalk the chips and dip feast from this weekend up to the post-drinking munchies that many of us remember from college (Hello, Taco Bell at 2 a.m.!), but in our day-to-day lives, many of us still struggle with late night snacking.

I used to be a huge late-night snacker. I would almost always eat a pretty hefty snack before bed. Eventually I realized I was doing this out of boredom and habit, not out of hunger.

I began to implement several different tactics to help combat my evening snack attacks which really helped me steer clear of the kitchen right before bed:

  • Drink a Hot Beverage: This one really helped me a lot! I often wanted to eat something while watching TV or hanging out with Ryan after dinner and found that sipping a cup of light hot chocolate or hot tea really helped keep my hands busy and took a while to consume, allowing for my snacky feelings to subside.
  • Plan to Snack: When I realized a lot of my late-night snacks were sweet, I began to plan to consume a sweet healthy late-night snack, like a cup of honey Greek yogurt, low-fat pudding, a square of dark chocolate, or a Dove Ice Cream Miniature to satisfy my sweet tooth in a less-indulgent way.
  • Evaluate Your Hunger: Have healthy snacks on hand just in case you are actually hungry before bed. Here are some ideas for healthy bed-time snacks:
  1. Apple with peanut butter
  2. Whole wheat crackers with cheese
  3. Cup of chocolate milk
  4. Greek yogurt with a sprinkling of nuts
  5. Small bowl of oatmeal
  6. Handful of healthy trail mix (peanuts, chocolate chips, raisins, whole grain cereal)
  • Entertain Yourself: Once I realized that I wasn’t actually hungry 95 percent of the time I was reaching for a late-night snack, I came up with a game plan to keep myself entertained and out of the kitchen. I created a list of activities that I literally posted on my fridge of things to do when I wanted to snack, but wasn’t really hungry:
  1. Read a book or magazine
  2. Paint my nails
  3. Play with or pet my dog
  4. Cuddle up with Ryan
  5. Go for a walk with Ryan and Sadie
  6. Do a 10-minute “quick clean” of the apartment
  7. Update my iPod

Question of the Afternoon

  • Do you snack late at night?
  • What are your tricks for staying out of the kitchen after dinner?
  • What are your favorite healthy late night snacks?

58 Responses

  1. i usually just force myself to go to sleep…i’m usually not hungry when i wake up! otherwise i just try to keep bad-for-me snacks out of the kitchen as much as possible to encourage healthier options. i am definitely a fan of the apple-PB combo!

  2. It’s not so much snacking, but I do have a sweet tooth attack every night after dinner.

    Usually, I plan my dessert and enjoy it. But sometimes, as you said, a hot chocolate or a hard candy will do the trick.

  3. I definitely have this issue and it’s a boredom thing. I’m gonna try to work on this!

  4. I am usually not a late night snacker bu that is mainly due to the fact that I am not up late! haha! We eat dinner around 7:00 and I am usually in bed by 9:00 so there doesn’t leave much room for me to get hungry. But these are great tips…as usual! 🙂

  5. My problem seems to be that I eat little during the day because I am so busy and then when dinner comes I am starving! I eat a huge dinner and then always want dessert or to snack throughout the night. I am not to hungry in the morning so I just have a light breakfast because I like a big dinner, but that seems to be backfiring on me!

  6. If I have had a full and satisfying dinner and I know that a treat or after dinner snack will just put me over the edge (into that uncomfortably full place) I brush my teeth right after dinner.

  7. oh PBF how i love thee and your blog but i am calling BS on the hot tea thing. i had several people and of course websites tell me this would do the trick.

    it doesnt. unless you really like tea because u basically have to drink 14 cups of it. 🙂

    not does water kill hunger. unless of course it was indeed thirst and not hunger to begin with 🙂

    the thing that works for me? go to sleep. thats it. thats the ONLY thing that works.

    • i prefer the hot chocolate thing to the hot tea thing. 🙂 that tip is definitely for fighting snacking temptations when you’re NOT actually hungry. if you’re hungry eat a (healthy) snack! 🙂

    • No lie, the tea thing has always, always worked for me.

  8. I am terrible about this, but you’re right, it’s definitely a habit. I sometimes like to have a tootsie pop for my snack. It’s only 60 calories & it satisfies my sweet tooth, especially since I’m not really all that hungry. Much better than putting down 2 bowls of ice cream or a bunch of cookies (which I can easily do)!

  9. I don’t snack at night, but my hubby does. And he finds all the junk in the house and eats. If I’m hungry and it’s late, off to bed. I can eat in the morning!

  10. Your lunch looks delicious! So colorful, love it.

  11. Haha is it bad that I usually substitute a late night snack for an evening glass of wine or something?

  12. this was so me in college. i still like late night snacking but a) i go to bed earlier now because i get up and run in the AM which helps, and b) now i’m the one who cleans up the kitchen! so i don’t want to get it dirty again. 🙂 but i have found that craisins are a great late night snack. sweet, healthy… yum!

  13. I have been having a huge issue with late-night eating. While recently losing weight and training for a 1/2 marathon…I find myself waking up in the middle of the night and going into the kitchen and eating!!! This is terrible. I need suggestions on how to stop this middle of the night eating!

  14. Late night snacking isn’t a huge problem for me. It’s the afternoons that kill me. Since I’m out of school for the summer and unemployed I have tons of free time. Mornings are usually taken up with workouts, but after lunch I have a habit of lingering the in kitchen (it’s a super comfortable kitchen with pretty windows and a TV). I’ll snack, cook (with a lot of taste-testing), or just hang out.
    It’s so hard to leave!

  15. At least those Lays chips were BAKED Lays!!

  16. I always drink hot tea at night. It really does help keep the snacking at bay and with all the new delicious flavors you can find it’s almost like having a snack.

  17. Ooooh, late night snacking is my weakness! Actually, snacking in general, ha!

  18. I tend to have something small and sweet after dinner but it is always planned and I try to choose the healthier options that still satisfy. I think it is an okay habit to have as long as it balances in with the rest of the day.

  19. I do snack a lot at night. It had gotten better during my first trimester b/c I was too sick to eat anything, but now my snack attacks are back! Most of the time to fight it I just go to bed, but last night we were watching a movie and I really wanted something salty like nachos. Well, I went to the kitchen and steamed some cauliflower and covered it in seasoning salt and hot sauce and believe it or not, that TOTALLY took care of my craving for something for something salty.

  20. I have a problem with night snacking as well and I drink hot tea…

  21. I definitely have this issue! Mostly it’s while I’m watching tv – for some reason I seem to want bowl after bowl of cereal. But I’m definitely not really “hungry”.

    I noticed eating a filling (including lots of veggies, fiber and protein) dinner helps ward off munchie mania. I also try to save my dessert time for later on in the night because I know I’ll want something for my sweet tooth. That way I have something small to look forward to and don’t let the munchies go crazy.

    Or if I’m hungry or really feeling the need for a late night snack snack size popcorn (100 calorie packs) are super! One of my friends actually eats a bowl of oatmeal and strawberries every night during her tv time. Keeps her full through her morning workout!

  22. I will do one of three things if I feel tempted to eat after dinner:
    1. brush my teeth (because I don’t want to dirty a clean mouth)
    2. chew gum
    3. drink hot tea

  23. I am totally a late night snacker with a killer sweet tooth. I am working on making sure that I fuel well throughout the day, when I do that I can typically avoid the crazy late night munchies : )

  24. Usually I am just in the mood for something sweet after dinner, so I have some healthy sweet snacks on hand! A popsicle or a glass of wine usually does the trick for me … it is definitely about breaking the habit, though!

  25. I actually don’t snack at night a whole lot. After I brush my teeth, all I want is water. Unless of course, I have been drinking. Then it’s not snacking really, more of an entire meal 🙂

    LOVE that sceen from Friends. Love that whole episode actually… “Ok buddy boy, here it is. You take my clothes? I’m wearing everything you own.” “That is so not the opposite of taking somebody’s underwear!”

  26. I just tell myself that whatever I want at 10pm, pretzels, ice cream or chocolate, I can have for breakfast. Usually, by the time I wake up I realize that i want a healthy and filling breakfast and push the junk food aside. Every so often though, I will have some ice cream with cereal on top 🙂

    That’s when I stay in, I’m in college now and when we go out and stumble in at three in the morning it seems that I can’t control the snacking. I’ve tried having skinny cows and popcorn, but usually I eat everything in sight (or three skinny cows)…and I can’t avoid the kitchen…that’s where the water is. Are there any tips that you have? Or anyone?

  27. Best. Post. Ever. I swear you were talking right to me. I have this problem a lot. Then I have a few nights where I don’t snack, am able to make it by and wonder why I can’t do that more often!

  28. i STRUGGLE with late night snacking!!! i’m loving reading all the tips. i think i should try the hot tea advice 🙂

  29. Great tips! I like doing the hot chocolate thing at night to curb cravings. I also will paint my nails so I literally can’t even get into any food for fear of smudging 😉

    Sometimes, I will do 100 crunches…if I’m still hungry, I eat. But usually I feel like I just did something good, so why eat crap and counteract that.

  30. I LOVE your lunch today! Seriously, it looks so tasty! I was thinking to myself if I had all of the ingredients at home to make it for tomorrow..but I don’t 😦 Total bummer. Might cause a run to the grocery store soon though.
    I also enjoyed reading about the late night snacking. I was just trying to think of some late night snacks..rather than turning to frozen yogurt. I think I will be sticking to fat free/ butter free popcorn instead. That always feels me up! Or a protein shake.

  31. Thank you so much for posting about late night snacking. My entire family had a problem with late night snacking, making me feel almost like it’s a genetic or conditioned habit. I put an end to the habit when I started losing weight, but in the past two or three weeks, my late night snacking has come back with a vengeance. I’m going to try these methods and hopefully end the snacking for good!

  32. Celestial Sleepytime tea has become a habit for me before bed during the week. Because you’re right- I think I want to sneak back into the pantry out of boredom/habit. So I formed a new habit. And since I do it almost every night, it’s also a cue for my body to know that it’s time to start shutting down for bed…

  33. I always snack late at night because when eating dinner around 6 and going to bed between 12-1AM, I’m bound to get hungry in between! My new favorite snack is frozen grapes.

  34. This is a huge problem for me. I do well all day long and then 9pm comes around and it’s all over. I have no willpower. I am currently training for a half marathon and working out a lot. The snacks that I am drawn to are “junk” food. I crave chips, chocolate and cereal. It is discouraging to work out hard and then give in to the temptation right before bed. Even my dog’s expect a snack before bed now!

  35. I LOVE the Dove miniatures! I do snack at night, but it’s usually in small amounts. Sometimes if I eat fruit or something with too much sugar I don’t sleep well, so I try to stick with light cheese or protein.
    Thanks for some great ideas!

  36. I love having certain snacks planned out at night if Im truly hungry. If not, I do what others do. Brush my teeth. take eddie out. clean. just something!

  37. Most nights I have a snack/dessert, but it’s usually just something small like a piece of chocolate or something. I love the idea of a hot drink..but drinking hot chocolate in the summer doesn’t sound that fun. I like hearing everyones tips!

  38. Oh I love the idea of the list for the fridge! That is awesome!

    I snack at night every once in awhile and tend to have light popcorn, some dark chocolate or some other sweet treat. I don’t like eating late though so try to either brush my teeth right after dinner or head back to the bedroom to read away from food temptations.

  39. Late night snacking is my kryptonite. Everything I eat is usually healthy, I just eat too much of it all at once. It’s hard to prevent, but I’m working on it. Great tips girl!

  40. I plan for one snack every night about an hour and a half before bedtime. Most of the time it is a small muffin.

    I like going to bed with a satisfied tummy, and I noticed that it really helped me in the morning too. I used to be STARVING when I would first wake up. Now I have time to wake up first before having to shove food in my mouth!

  41. I always do a diet swiss miss hot chocolate, its only 25 calories and put 1/4 cup almond milk in the unsweetened chocolate flovored. so yummy and relaxing!!!

  42. i think the hot tea actually is a great thing for me in the evenings…sorta weird in the summer, but it works

  43. Im terrible at late night snacking! when I say late night I mean LATE night. Every now and then Ill wake up at like 1 or 2 in the morning and get up, walk around, and munch on something. So annoying and weird!

  44. Night snacking is a problem of mine. Sitting around watching tv, bored….

    In order to stop it, I’d usually drink hot chocolate or chew gum. Or if I’m really munchy, then try to have something like fruit or carrots!

  45. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that you and your friends probably did the late-night snacking thing this weekend, because you were out all night dancing and your bodies wanted to have some calories. After all, bar time in Chicago is 4AM and that’s almost breakfast-time, right?
    Personally speaking, after a long night out I most definitely want a small meal or snack. This serves two purposes: 1. to give my body some fuel after a night of dancing, or 2. to soak up some of the alcohol in my stomach! I think that late-night snacking after a night out, is very different from late-night eating when you’ve been home all evening.

  46. I’m all about planning the nighttime snack. Eating something while watching my TV shows at night has certainly become a habit…one that I don’t really want to break! So I usually snack on something like a small bowl of cereal or a VitaTop with nut butter.

    Just caught up on your bachelorette weekend posts….LOVE them! You ladies are all stunning, and it looks like you had an incredible time 😀

  47. I actually don’t like late-night snacking – I have a lot of trouble sleeping if I’m in full digestion mode so I have to be careful. But that rule flies out the window when a few too many drinks are involved! It doesn’t happen often, but that’s when I’ll DIVE for – believe it or not – straight up cereal! I can eat that stuff like it’s my job when I’m not thinking straight.
    My keys to preventing that situation: eat a hearty enough meal before the drinks so I don’t risk feeling hungry when I get home; don’t keep cereal around (sad but necessary 🙂 ); if I must eat, eat something that can’t go on and on (like cereal or chips) – like a pb & j sandwich.

  48. Drinking hot chocolate is a great way to satisfy my sweet tooth and settle down for bed at the same time. I also turn the light off in my kitchen when I know it’s time to stop snacking. It’s a subtle reminder that I’m done for the night. The idea of having to turn the light back on to look for a snack seems too much of an effort and it usually tricks my brain. Then I usually just get a glass of water, brush my teeth and stay in my room until sleep!

  49. I often plan to snack throughout the day (when I feel my snackiest). I think its sometimes easier to work with your natural tendencies than try to change them.

  50. Gosh your post is so timely. I was thinking about this exact problem yesterday! I’ve just made myself a cup of tea and have a small snack and a small piece of dark chocolate beside me hehe.

    It’s hard to make yourself get up and do something at night because it’s the time you look forward to for resting. However, I think that and/or drinking a cup of tea are the best ways to beat the late night snack attack 🙂

    Cheers for your ideas.

  51. I always have a snack before bed, and am a huge fan of fruit and nutbutter! Nothing beats the sweet and good fat combo!

  52. Hi Julie,

    I stumbled upon your blog from a fellow blogger’s site. Great blog and posts! I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read so far, as I’ve found that your posts about healthy living and eating are really interesting for those of us trying to do the same… but also realistic! It is so important to treat ourselves to those indulgences every now and then… I am still a big fan of choco cake and fro yo despite all the veggies and fruits I prep during the week.

    Great post on late night snacking – great ideas for my greatest weakness!

    Cheers!
    Suzanne

  53. Julie, just wanted to say how very much I love your blog. As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder in the past it’s nice to focus on such a healthy approach to diet and exercise.

    I’ve had a terrible habit recently of visiting sites that focus on celebrity weight fluctuations (which only leads to tearing others down and criticizing myself more). I decided to seek out a blog related to healthy lifestyle choices instead and I found yours….thanks so much for the daily blogs 🙂 It has helped more than you know!

    • thank you so much for your kind comment, elizabeth. i’m so happy to hear that you’re really interested in living a healthy life and i’m so glad to hear you find my blog helpful. 🙂 ❤

  54. […] Butter Fingers has some tips for avoiding late night snacking. I always like tips for this bad […]

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