How I Stopped Snacking at Night For Good
I’ve tried to stop snacking at night about one zillion times in my life (roughly). I’d get started with it and then after one night of success think, “Well, I did it last night, so tonight it’s okay to have something.” Know where that lead? To snacking every night again. Sometimes my snack would be something simple and healthy, like a microwaved apple with some cinnamon and walnuts. More often than not, though, it would be cookies or ice cream or peanut butter filled pretzels.
And it wasn’t like I was eating because I was hungry (which I’m all for), I was eating because it was a habit, plain and simple. Sit on the couch to watch TV? Must be time to eat!
But this time I think I’ve truly done it, because I don’t even think about snacking after dinner anymore. I sit down and watch TV and even if my husband is having a snack, I’m not tempted.
How to stop snacking at night
Here’s how I finally kicked night time snacking to the curb and know I’ll stick to it.
I did the simplest thing possible
I’m always trying to eat as healthfully as possible, but sometimes I take on too much at once. I read an article that mentioned the best way to create new health habits is to pick just one thing that’s almost too easy and work on that before doing anything else.
Since snacking at night seemed simple, if not necessarily easy, I chose that but I did nothing else to tweak my diet AT ALL when I was working on it. That means I wasn’t trying to eliminate sugar or coffee or eat paleo or count calories or carbs or anything. I focused on giving up eating after dinner, the end.
I chose a day and I just did it
I eat dinner pretty early since I have a young child, so when we ate I fortified myself with a few extra bites because I was worried about getting hungry later. You know what else I did? I ate a little dessert right after dinner. I would often eat dessert a couple hours later for my snack, but I felt like my serving sizes were kind of unreasonable. Eating it right after dinner was win-win: I still got to eat dessert, but I was eating a much smaller portion because I was still full from dinner.
I admit, the first night was hard. It was so ingrained in my brain to have a snack around 8 when my husband and I sat down to watch TV that I really had to remind myself that tonight was going to be different. I even felt a few (perhaps imagined?) hunger pangs.
I went to bed around 10 and felt good when I woke up. I was happy with what I’d done, and that motivated me to keep going. The next night was easier, and each subsequent night was even better.
I told my husband so I’d keep myself accountable
I said out loud to him “I’m not eating at night anymore.” I laid it out there, and if he mentioned ice cream or some other snack when we were at the store I just said “I’m not eating at night anymore.” In the past I had trouble saying that and putting my foot down, but this time it was different.
I think the real reason I was able to make this a permanent shift is this: I started sleeping better almost immediately. I’ve often had issues where I wake up an hour after I fall asleep feeling off, or waking up at three in the morning with a slight stomach ache. When I stopped eating at night those symptoms disappeared completely. I started sleeping much more soundly, and my body seemed to be adjusting really well to the changes.
It’s been about six weeks, but I don’t even think about snacking anymore at night. I still eat what I want, just right after dinner and in a smaller portion size, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.
If you’re looking to make a similar change in your eating routine, my advice is to work on only giving up snacking at night, nothing else. Tell someone you’re doing it so they can hold you accountable. Give it a fair chance to see if it’s improving your life or health, because that’s what will truly get you to stick to it. Good luck!
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your diabetes?