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5 Ways to Tame the Late Night Munchies

You had a delicious, healthy dinner. You even enjoyed salmon for the first time ever (usually it just tastes fishy), congratulations!

After the kids are in bed, though, and the TV is on, it hits: the late night munchies.

This habit has been with you a long time, and sometimes you don’t think you’ll ever be able to break it, but you really want to. It seems like no matter how many times you promise yourself you won’t eat anything after dinner, you find yourself with your hand in something—a bag of chips, a box of cookies, a Tupperware full of dinner leftovers.

I now present you with five ideas to help you tame the beast.

  1. Do something else. I know what you’re thinking: “D’uh, but if that worked, I wouldn’t have this problem.” I hear you. My challenge to you is to come up with an if-then statement. These types of statements can help cool off the “hot” part of your brain that causes you to do impulsive things—like grabbing that bag of delicious crunchy goodness that you promised yourself you’d leave alone. Try something like “If I find myself wanting to eat after dinner, then I’ll go in the garage and do some pushups” or “If I want to snack after the kids go to bed, then I’ll call my sister and talk to her instead.”
  2. Enlist help from a spouse. There’s nothing like partnering up with someone, especially someone who lives with you and shares your desire to keep you healthy, to help you stay on track. Tell your spouse that you want to stop snacking after dinner and ask them to remind you in a loving and supportive way the next time you want to indulge. Make sure you tell them ahead of time exactly what your goal is (do you want to stop snacking after dinner for the whole week? Just for tonight?) and how best you’d like to be supported (them calling you names or making you feel guilty won’t be that helpful).
  3. Use social media to keep you accountable. If you don’t have a partner but have a strong network on social media, use it! Tell your Facebook friends that you’re not going to eat anything else after dinner, and tell them to check in on you the next day. Tweet that the kitchen is closed for the day, and ask who else is with you #beatingthelatenightmunchies. Take a picture of yourself doing something other than eating (maybe reading a book in bed?) and put it on Instagram. Make it fun!
  4. Try a hot beverage. Maybe you just feel like you need something, you know? Try brewing up a cup of hot peppermint tea and sipping it slowly with your hands wrapped around the mug. Not a tea fan? What about a mug of hot cocoa (preferably one you’ve put together yourself to keep the sugar content low)? The heat is soothing, holding the cup in your hands gives you something to do, and the liquid fills you up a bit.
  5. Plan it out. Let’s say you know you’re going to need to eat something later at night, maybe because you eat dinner pretty early and always get hungry again. To avoid reaching for something you might later regret, plan it out, preferably first thing in the morning when the stresses of the day have not yet gotten to you. Portion out a serving of pita chips and hummus, put 100 calories work of peanut butter in a container along with a baggie of whole wheat pretzels, even set aside the three cookies you plan on consuming. When you do this, you already know what you’re going to eat, it’s calorie and portion controlled, and you’re letting the sensible part of your brain make the decision for you.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.