When I think about certain habits that I would like to change, late night snacking is a recurring theme in my life. But, I am sure that I am not the only one. Most days, I am amazing at eating healthy during the day, but then usually everything falls apart late at night when I find myself with a bag of chips staring aimlessly at my Netflix screen. What we need to do first to break this bad habit is to find out the actual problem. For example, what is the real reason that I am snacking of a bag of cookies at 10 p.m.? Is it out of habit? Is it because I am bored? Am I upset or excited or just legitimately hungry?

If any of these sound like you, then you might be suffering from late-night snack syndrome.

So, what’s going down? Is late night snacking that detrimental? How can we get it under control? 

Here are some tips to help you figure it out:

Figure out the issue

In many cases, it seems that hunger is an actual issue. It could be that we are eating too little during the day and then carb binging at night. Or, it could be our specific diet. If you are eating low carb, are you eating enough in volume in regards to fat? If you are trying a low-calorie diet, are you eating enough to keep you full and satisfied? I’m talking about fitting all that good protein, healthy fats, and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. If you’re eating a nutrient-rich salad for dinner but it doesn’t have any protein or fat added to it, it’s no wonder you’re scouring the fridge for anything you can get your hands on, sis.

Take a look at your plate

Look at what you’re eating and at what time. Then go from there. If you notice most of your mealtime is around late night snacking, you need to add in more protein and healthy fats that will keep you satiated, or if you’re always feeling hunger pains in the morning and night, try adding an additional meal throughout or an evening snack that will satisfy you and help you sleep.

Snack on something healthy

One thing I often choose for my evening snack is with a handful of trail mix or an apple and spoonful of nut butter. Nuts have protein and healthy fats, which moderate the uptake of sugar (from the apple) into the bloodstream. Yogurt and fruit are also good options, as is some grapes or carrots. The point is to keep your snack reasonably small, so it won’t leave you feeling bloated or cause heartburn when you hit the sheets. Avoid sugary snacks like cereals, ice cream or fried foods like fries right before bed, as they might end up keeping you awake.

Figure out you're why

It's time to take an in-depth look into the cause of your snacking. Sometimes a bowl of popcorn with Netflix is fine, but if you’re finding yourself surrounded by leftover Christmas candy wrappers after a rough night, it’s time to re-evaluate our life, sis. If the urge to snack hits, check in with yourself. If tea is your thing, make yourself and take the time to evaluate your hunger and cravings. If, after that, your still feeling hungry, then go ahead and have something light. But if you notice the desire is fleeting, you probably didn’t need a snack, to begin with. Am I right?

Check in with yourself

It is so important that you check in with yourself regularly and realize the real reason behind why you suddenly want that extra snack after you are tucked into bed. Now, if it is a medical emergency (keeping the blood sugar stable) then, by all means, go for it. But, if you are feeling sad or angry or stressed before bed, try some other activities that don’t involve snacking, like some light stretching or yoga, reading, listening to music, calling a loved one, taking a bath. The lists are endless. I encourage you to try one before you reach for food.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing inherently wrong with snacking — even late at night —just make sure you are practicing mindful eating. If you get in tune with yourself, you’ll likely find yourself making better choices overall.

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