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How to CRUSH Your Night Time Cravings

“I eat so well during the day, but then I come home and undo it all because I’m snacking the entire night.”

Does this sound like you?

Trust me, you’re not alone.

Late night cravings and munchies are one of the most common concerns I hear from my clients. You can stop the eat-repent-repeat cycle! Here’s my step-to-step guide to breaking the habit once and for all.

1. Release the Guilt

Let’s start off by saying that there’s nothing wrong with eating at night. There is no magical witching hour where your metabolism shuts down, despite anything Oprah says. The only reason why eating late may be an issue is if you find that it disturbs your sleep; for example, if you have issues with acid reflux. But when it comes to night time snacking, what you eat matters much more than when you eat. So stop feeling bad about the time!

Your #metabolism is not Cinderella's coach - you won't turn into a pumpkin at midnight! Click To Tweet

2. Are You Hungry?

When someone who’s trying to lose weight tells me that they are “good during the day”, that actually sets off alarm bells in my head. It might be a sign that they’re restricting too much and eating too little, leading to feeling hungry and eating more at night.

It might seem counterintuitive to eat more when you’re trying to lose weight, but the thing is, we tend to make better food choices during the day than we do at night. Rarely do I hear people tell me that they have chips and ice cream for breakfast.

The next time you’re about to grab a snack at night, ask yourself, “Am I hungry?” better yet, ask yourself “Can I eat an apple?” This is a trick I learned from James Fell of Body For Wife – the reason behind this is, sometimes when we simply ask “Am I hungry”, it’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking that we’re ready to eat. But tacking on a specific item like an apple really forces you to think – apples are great, but they’re no apple pie. So, are you really hungry, or do you just want something sweet?

2a. Satisfy Your Physical Hunger

If it turns out that you are actually physically hungry (like, stomach grumbling kind of hungry), take a few steps back to my 4 Foundations of Healthy Eating.

Specifically, are you eating every 3 to 5 hours? Are you including a variety of foods (particularly protein-rich foods) at every meal and snack? If not, you might not be eating enough during the day, but the hunger is showing up later at night. This might mean adding a snack during the day, or changing the type of food that you’re having at your meals and snacks to make sure that they last you until bed time.

If you tend to have supper early and go to bed late, you may just be hitting that 3 to 5 hour sweet spot where you are starting to get hungry. In that case, release the guilt around eating at night, and plan a healthy snack. Planning a snack gives you something to look forward to, as opposed to grabbing the first thing you see when the cravings hit.

3. What Are You Really Hungry For?

In many cases, you might not actually be physically hungry. Perhaps after a long, stressful day at work, you like to relax in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn. Perhaps the evenings are the time when everyone’s asleep and you can finally eat what you want. Maybe it’s still light out and you want to kill some time before going to bed. Maybe it’s just a habit to have something sweet after supper.

If you know you’ve eaten enough during the day, it’s only been an hour or so since supper, and you’re still craving something, challenge yourself to really zero in on the emotion that you’re trying to satisfy by eating. Is it to relax? Rebel? Is it because you’re bored? Procrastinating? Is it just automatic?

Next, challenge yourself again to think of things you can do instead of eating (or eating something that’s a better choice) that can satisfy that same emotion. Keep a running list so you can always refer back to it for ideas. This list from Women’s Health is a good start.

4. Try, Try Again.

Just because I’m saying crushing your cravings takes only 4 steps doesn’t mean it’s easy. You’re going to find some things work one day, and they won’t work the next, and that’s OK. Release the guilt. Give yourself credit for trying something new, even if it does mean you’re still grabbing that chocolate bar sometimes at the end of it all.

Struggling with night time munchies? CRUSH your #cravings with this step-by-step guide! Click To Tweet
Do you struggle, or have you struggled, with night time cravings? What are your secrets for keeping them at bay? Please share your insights in the comments below!

5 Comments

  • Rosemary on Dec 14, 2016 Reply

    These are sound and helpful hints Vincci. Thanks for helping me be mindful and not just feeling like a failure.
    Looking forward to our chat this afternoon.

  • Liz Hay on Aug 11, 2016 Reply

    Every time I read one of your articles–and I mean every, single, time–I come away feeling better about my eating choices and more empowered to make healthy choices. Thanks for the great ideas!

    • Vincci Tsui on Aug 11, 2016 Reply

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Liz! I’m glad you are finding these posts helpful.

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