Do you find yourself irresistibly drawn to the refrigerator in the evening? Late-night eating and snacking is a common problem. Some people pop-open the refrigerator because they’re hungry while others do it because they’re bored. Late-night hunger can also come from too much calorie restriction during the day. What’s the best way to deal with late-night snacking before it adds too many pounds to your frame?
Late-Night Snacking: Is It Hunger or Boredom?
To find out whether you’re drawn to the refrigerator out of boredom or true hunger, keep a food diary for a month. Document each late-night trip to the refrigerator; rate your hunger on a scale of one to five, what you were doing at the time and your stress level on a scale of one to five. After a few weeks, you should see a pattern. If you’re visiting the refrigerator with a hunger level of one and a stress level of five, stress may be contributing to your late-night eating. If you’re not doing anything when you feel the urge to snack, you could be eating out of boredom – or simply habit.
When It’s Late-Night Hunger That Motivates You
If your hunger level is a four or a five in the evening and you head to the kitchen for a snack, you’re probably not eating a balanced diet during the day. Some people “save up” their calories so they can eat more at night. Keeping a food diary will help identify this. Keep track of everything you eat during the day along with its calorie content. Compare that to how many calories you need to maintain your weight based on your activity level. If you’re not getting most of your calories during the day, it may explain your urge to snack at night.
Make sure you’re eating the right kinds of foods during the day. Include a protein source at each meal and some fiber along with healthy fats to keep you full longer. If you simply must have a late-night snack, don’t reach for the carton of ice cream. Go for something high in protein such as half of a turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread or a handful of walnuts. If you have a carb-craving, eat a cup of yogurt or a dish of strawberries with a drizzle of sugar-free dark chocolate syrup. A small bowl of oatmeal is another good alternative.
Late-Night Snacking From Boredom
Boredom motivates many late-night snackers. Stay more active in the evening. Divide your exercise into two sessions and do half in the morning and the other half in the evening. Aerobic exercise temporarily suppresses appetite too. Take a walk with the dog in the evening instead of hanging out in the kitchen. Make a list of five things you love to do, and post it in easy sight in the kitchen. When the urge to snack at night hits, choose an activity from your list instead. Take a bubble bath or brush your teeth to reduce the urge to snack at night.
Curb Late-Night Eating Once and For All
Don’t let late-night eating become a bad habit. If you’re really hungry, have a high-protein snack, but try to reduce late-night hunger by eating a more substantial diet during the day when you’re most active – and substitute another activity if you’re eating out of boredom.