Posted on by Amber Merton

woman eating from fridge

Many individuals find they tend to eat late at night, often despite not being hungry. And, rather than nibbling on heart-healthy foods, people tend to fill up on sweet or salty treats instead.

Whether the reason behind your nighttime eating is psychological or physiological, night food bingeing can be disastrous, not only for your waistline, but also your sleep.

Why Stop Eating at Night?

According to Harvard Health, eating at night could spell trouble. For instance, getting into the habit of eating while you're watching TV could result in overeating. It's also unhealthy to save up daytime calories for a nightly meal.

You require calories in the daytime, when you're using up energy. When you don't eat enough during the day, you might become so hungry, you end up overeating at night. Not to mention, eating before bed could cause heartburn, and this could keep you from getting quality sleep.

You should space out your calories during the day, and time your meals. If you're hungry at nighttime, it might be okay to eat a small snack, such as a handful of nuts or fruit if it fits within your calorie goals, and is part of your healthy meal plan.

Penn Medicine News published an article showing research into eating at night not only increases weight, but it also encourages your body to metabolize fewer lipids, and more carbs. It was also found nighttime eating caused an increase in: 

  • Fasting glucose
  • Insulin
  • Triglyceride levels
  • Cholesterol

Tips to Stop Eating at Night

Here are some tips to help you stop nighttime eating:

1. Figure Out the Cause

Some individuals eat the majority of their foot during the night, or late in the evening. You have to figure out the cause of this in order to change this habit.

Eating at night might be due to restricting your intake of daytime food, and this can lead to hunger at night. It might also be due to boredom, or a habit. But, nighttime eating has also been associated with certain eating disorders, such as night eating syndrome, and binge eating disorder.

These two disorders are marked by various eating behaviors and patterns, but could have a similar negative impact on your health. In both, individuals often eat when they're not hungry because they're using food to curb certain emotions like:

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Frustration

Binge eaters often eat extremely large amounts of food at one time, and feel a sense of loss of control while they eat. Others with nighttime eating syndrome often munch in the evening and wake up in the night to eat, consuming over 25% of their daily calories during the night.

2. Identify and Break Associations

Many individuals have formed the habit of eating food while they play on their smartphones or laptops or while they watch TV at night. If you can't engage in screen time without snacking, you should try to cut back on your screen time activity. You can also try limiting your screen time eating to:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • No-calorie beverages

Or, you can try to occupy your hands in a different way, such as:

  • Shooting nerf ball hoops
  • Watching TV
  • Taking up knitting
  • Flossing your teeth
  • Writing a letter to friends
  • Walking on a treadmill
  • Stretching on the floor
  • Riding a stationary bike

Perhaps you can avoid stocking your pantry or fridge with problem foods. You'll thereby be removing the temptation.

3. Eat Regular Meals

A great way to avoid nighttime eating is to not skip meals. When you skip meals, you put yourself at risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). You also increase the temptation of overeating later on. Make it a goal to consume three balanced meals, and one afternoon snack each day.

By doing this, it can help you feel less hungry in the nighttime. Once you train your body to eat less during the night, you'll likely be hungrier in the day. It's difficult to consume breakfast when you had a meal just hours before you woke up. By decreasing your nighttime eating, you will wake up ready to eat breakfast.

4. Eliminate Your Trigger Foods

If there is a certain food you tend to go to in the evening, refrain from buying them. If you don't have them, you won't want them. Stock up your kitchen with healthy food instead.

5. Close Your Kitchen Down for the Night

After dinner, clean up your kitchen, and switch off the lights. Remind yourself that eating for the day is done, and now you must wind down and relax somewhere other than the kitchen. Wash up, and brush your teeth. The minty toothpaste may curb your salty and sweet cravings.

Remember, change takes awareness and time. When you have awareness, you'll be better equipped to solve this common issue. While snacking once in a while isn't a bad thing, eating at night, particularly when you're not hungry, isn't a great plan. Learn to eat healthy meals regularly, and create positive habits that will help you stop eating at night.

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