How to Stop Overeating at NightOct 16, 2023
Whether it's due to stress, boredom, or just a habitual late-night snack, those post-sunset binges can really throw a wrench into your health and wellness journey.
But fear not, I've got some actionable strategies that will help you break this cycle and keep those late-night cravings at bay.
Before we dive into the strategies, take a moment to consider why nighttime overeating happens. It's essential to know the root causes to effectively address the issue.
How to Stop Overeating at Night
Nighttime overeating happens as a result of four common things:
Emotional Eating: Many of us use food as a way to cope with stress or emotional turbulence. The nighttime can be a particularly vulnerable time when the stresses of the day may catch up to us.
Habitual Behavior: Sometimes, late-night snacking is simply a habit. We've conditioned ourselves to munch on something while watching TV or surfing the web.
Physiological Factors: Late-night eating can be driven by genuine hunger, often due to an imbalanced or insufficient diet during the day.
Lack of Sleep: Poor sleep can lead to increased cravings, especially for high-calorie, sugary, and fatty foods.
Now, let's dive into the actionable strategies to help you put a stop to overeating at night.
1. Plan your meals mindfully
One of the best ways to prevent overeating at night is to plan your meals thoughtfully throughout the day. This involves a few key principles:
- Prioritize Protein: Make sure each of your main meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) contains a good source of protein. Protein helps you feel full and satisfied, reducing the likelihood of late-night snacking.
- Balanced Nutrition: Ensure that your meals are well-balanced with a combination of lean proteins, healthy fats, and a variety of colorful vegetables. This will provide you with the necessary nutrients and keep your hunger in check.
- Don't Skip Meals: Skipping meals during the day can lead to intense hunger at night, making it much harder to control your portions. Make a conscious effort to eat regular, nourishing meals throughout the day.
2. Stay hydrated
Thirst can sometimes masquerade as hunger. So, it's essential to stay well-hydrated throughout the day. Drinking water before a meal can help you feel more satisfied, which can reduce the urge to snack late at night.
- Herbal Tea: Sip on some herbal tea in the evening. Chamomile and peppermint tea can be particularly soothing and can help curb late-night cravings.
- Avoid Sugary Drinks: Stay away from sugary and caffeinated beverages in the evening as they can disrupt your sleep and lead to late-night hunger.
3. Mindful eating
Mindful eating is a powerful tool in your arsenal against overeating. Here's how you can implement it:
- Slow Down: Eat your meals slowly and savor each bite. Eating too quickly can prevent your body from recognizing fullness, leading to late-night hunger pangs.
- Eliminate Distractions: Turn off the TV, put away your phone, and focus solely on your meal. When you eat mindfully, you're more in tune with your body's hunger and fullness cues.
- Portion Control: Pay attention to portion sizes. Use smaller plates and utensils, and be conscious of serving sizes to avoid overeating.
4. Stress management
Dealing with stress is crucial when it comes to nighttime overeating. Implement strategies that help you relax and unwind:
- Meditation: Regular meditation practice can help reduce stress levels and keep emotional eating in check.
- Breathing Exercises: Deep breathing exercises can help you manage stress in the moment. Try taking a few deep breaths when you feel the urge to snack at night.
- Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Develop a calming bedtime routine that doesn't involve food. Reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing gentle yoga can help signal to your body that it's time to wind down.
5. Plan your snacks
Sometimes, a small, healthy snack before bed can be a good idea, especially if you're genuinely hungry. But plan it wisely:
- Choose Nutrient-Dense Snacks: Opt for nutrient-dense options like a small serving of Greek yogurt, a handful of nuts, or a piece of fruit. Avoid sugary, processed, or high-calorie snacks.
- Set a Time Limit: If you decide to have a nighttime snack, set a time limit for it. For example, tell yourself you'll stop eating by 8 pm and stick to it.
- Avoid Trigger Foods: If there's a particular food that you can't seem to control yourself around, keep it out of your house. This way, you won't be tempted to overindulge.
6. Create a supportive environment
Your environment plays a significant role in your eating habits. Make your surroundings conducive to healthy choices:
- Clear the Kitchen: Remove tempting, unhealthy foods from your kitchen, and replace them with nutritious options.
- Use Portion-Control Containers: Invest in portion-control containers to help you maintain proper serving sizes and avoid overeating.
- Make Healthy Snacks Easily Accessible: Have pre-cut veggies, fruits, and other healthy snacks readily available in the fridge or on the countertop.
7. Get adequate sleep
Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your hormones, leading to increased cravings for high-calorie, unhealthy foods. Prioritize a good night's sleep:
- Stick to a Sleep Schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body's internal clock.
- Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment: Make your bedroom conducive to sleep with a comfortable mattress, blackout curtains, and a cool temperature.
- Wind Down Before Bed: Engage in calming activities before bedtime to signal to your body that it's time to rest.
8. Stay active
Regular physical activity can help curb late-night cravings. Here's how to make it work for you:
- Evening Workouts: If you find yourself snacking late at night out of boredom, consider scheduling your workouts in the evening to keep yourself occupied.
- Post-Dinner Walks: After dinner, take a leisurely walk to help with digestion and reduce the urge to snack.
- Stay Consistent: Make exercise a consistent part of your daily routine, which can help regulate your appetite and promote better sleep.
9. Keep a food journal
Keeping a food journal can be a powerful tool for understanding your eating patterns and identifying triggers for nighttime overeating. Write down everything you eat, when you eat it, and how you felt at the time. Over time, you'll start to notice patterns that can help you make positive changes.
10. Seek support
Don't be afraid to seek support from friends, family, or even a professional if nighttime overeating is a persistent issue. Talking to someone about your challenges can provide valuable insights and encouragement.
Remember, breaking the habit of nighttime overeating may take time, so set a deadline to change your ways and stick to it.
I have a story about the value of a good teacher or mentor.
As a coach I'm always looking for teaching opportunities to help my client-athletes meet their goals.
Some clients want to lose between 10 and 50 pounds of excess body fat.
Other clients are interested in gaining muscle.
Some clients want to do both: Gain muscle and drop fat.
Every Monday (Measurement Monday) our clients hop on the bodyfat scale and we write down their bodyfat percentage as well as their body weight.
This allows our coaches to provide specific feedback. Tracking progress allows us to see what's working... and what isn't.
After 12 or so weeks we have 12 data points and can see some really nice trends.
After 12 months we have a ton of data and can actually predict how you will do in the future based on these trends.
One particular client (we'll call him "Barnabas" or "B" for short) has been very loyal and dedicated to his workouts for many months.
He rarely misses a session. He's highly intelligent, strong, and fit too.
B's starting weight was 250 pounds and 29% bodyfat.
His waist measurement was over 47 inches.
Considering his height at 5"9", he fell into the "morbidly obese" category.
Of course being obese can kill you. We all know that, including B.
Ten months later he was down 22.2 pounds, weighing in at 227.8 pounds and 23% bodyfat.
His lost 5 inches of fat from his waist, measuring 42 inches. Steady, excellent progress by any standard.
Within the last few months, his bodyfat is starting to creep back on.
Recently B weighed in at 234 pounds and 24% bodyfat. His waist measurement was up to 43 inches.
Problem is, when it comes to nutrition he wasn't following my recommendations.
In fact, he described a frustrating pattern:
- Coming home from the office at 7:00 PM
- Feeling exhausted and "unwinding" while watching TV
- Mindlessly eating carb-dense foods like nut butters, microwave popcorn, dried fruit, etc.
- Washing everything down with sugary drinks
He rationalized his poor eating patterns because he was training with me, four sessions per week.
But you can't out-train a bad diet.
You can't out-train poor nutrition
Heck, you could exercise three times a day and still get really fat unless you are following a portion-controlled nutrition plan.
So I asked Barnabas a few simple questions to learn if he actually wanted to lose bodyfat.
You see, I can't want a client to be successful more than a client wants it himself.
In the book Switch, authors Dan and Chip Heath state, "Big problems are rarely solved with commensurately big solutions... Instead, they are most often solved by a sequence of small solutions, sometimes over decades."
In lay terms, don't change too much too quickly.
One small solution is to batch-prepare your meals.
In my book, The New Fountain of Youth, I suggest you plan, purchase, prepare, and package meals twice weekly. It helps if you make it a fun family affair.
I am in tune with my body, but B wasn't in tune with his. Does this sound familiar?
If we work together, my goal is to focus on ONE small victory: Creating a daily schedule for you to follow.
It's important to keep it simple. Why?
Because too many cues could make you feel overwhelmed and, as a result, paralyzed and unwilling to cease your bad habits that are sabotaging your goal of achieving a strong and lean body.
In the case of Barnabas, he wants to get his body weight under 200 pounds, his waist to 34 inches, and his bodyfat to 12%.
Deadline is, by his birthday, in six months. So I created a simple, done-for-you daily schedule for B to follow.
Folks, B made a conscious choice to forgo certain things so that he can invest in the coaching he needs to follow his dreams of achieving a healthy body.
Sometimes, you just have to choose what is most important in your life.
And although getting the guidance and coaching you NEED, from the best age-management personal trainer near Allentown, is the best investment you can make in your health, not everyone sees the big picture.
I became a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist in 1996. And since that time I have observed a few traits of successful clients, who achieve their goals and then maintain optimal health for life.
Long-term, committed and successful clients have:
- A love for the type of strength-and-conditioning activities we engage in
- Family/spousal support
- Grit and other character traits which allow them to be resilient when faced with adversity (injury, illness, family emergencies, financial issues...)
- An unwavering commitment to their own and their families health and well-being
Unfortunately, this type of gritty person seems to be somewhat of a rare breed. I'd say the general population gives up at the first sign of adversity.
But that's not you.
If you, or someone you know has at least 10 pounds of fat to lose, or at least 10 pounds of muscle to gain (or both), share this lesson.
I can help you rebuild your body and live your best life.
To your success,
Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women lose weight, gain strength, and slow aging. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to increase longevity with the best online age-management program, or you want to visit the best age-management program in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.