I sighed as I shoved the empty bag of Doritos into the already full trash can. And I swear my sweatpants felt tighter already. Was I EVER going to figure out how to stop snacking?
Every day was the same; I’d start out determined to eat healthy, but by the time the evening came, I was exhausted and feeling guilty for not doing more, and I’d cave into my cravings.
If you find yourself devouring a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, emptying your pantry of potato chips, or even standing on a chair reaching for the king-sized Reese’s candy bar you hid in the back of the cupboard, you’re not alone.
Whether you want to lose weight, make better eating choices, or just feel better, one of the simplest and most practical ways to do so is to stop snacking in the evening.
Easier said than done, right? Well, not anymore! After years of struggling, I finally figured out how to stop snacking. Yes, even in the evenings. These 5 tips are simple and easy to do, but they really make a difference.
Is snacking at night bad?
First of all, snacking isn’t inherently bad. We have enough on our plates to worry about without dealing with the “dangers” of enjoying a snack here and there. 😉
That being said, while evening snacking doesn’t necessarily cause weight or health issues by itself, it often sabotages weight loss efforts. Or, it can even lead to difficulty falling asleep if you eat too much too close to bedtime.
I know it’s hard. You’re busy all day – working, doing errands, playing soccer mom (or taxi), then supervising homework, chores, getting kids to bed, etc. The evening is your time. (Maybe.)
You might still be running around doing laundry and cleaning the house. But, you might get to sit down and catch up on your favorite TV show. And then you head for the fridge (or freezer) and reach for the mint chocolate chip ice cream. Since it’s a small Ben & Jerry’s, you just grab a spoon and dig in. Before you know it, the container is empty. Or you’ve eaten more than you intended to.
Here’s the thing: snacking in the evening isn’t so horrible by itself. But it goes downhill when we eat up a whole bag of chips and a bunch of extra calories without realizing it. And really, if you’re going to eat something, you may as well enjoy it (which is hard to do when you’re focused on paying bills or watching a riveting episode of Scandal).
That used to be me. I won’t lie and say that I never snack in the evening anymore. But, for the most part, I do avoid it and I feel better because of it. I lose weight faster when I don’t snack and I also fall asleep easier. If you struggle with weight gain, give these tips a try and see how YOU feel.
How To Stop Snacking: 5 Simple Tips
It’s not easy to just stop eating snack foods cold turkey. So, here are a few practical tips for how to stop snacking in the evening. These ideas and tricks are very doable, so you can be successful with this simple baby step toward getting healthy.
These tricks work whether you reach for junk food because you want a treat or just out of boredom. No judgment here…I’ve struggled with both!
1) Eat more protein during the day.
Earlier this year, I discovered that simply drinking a protein shake around 11:30 am every morning drastically decreased my hunger and cravings later that afternoon and evening.
Not a protein shake fan? That’s okay! There are many other ways to get a good dose of protein, such as:
- making easy and energizing chocolate protein balls
- snacking on protein breakfast muffins
- enjoying a hardboiled egg + string cheese (you can even add a few veggies for extra fiber)
- eating a few crispy baked chicken nuggets
- spooning up some protein-rich Greek yogurt
- make delicious fruit smoothies (add a scoop of protein powder too), like this mango smoothie recipe.
2) Swap for a healthier alternative
Replace your usual snack or cravings with a healthier alternative. Ideally, we won’t eat much, if at all, after dinner. But sometimes, it’s just tough to go cold turkey.
I suggest making a list of healthier, wholesome substitutes instead. Maybe you could eat a handful of nuts instead of those cookies. Or a piece of fruit or some vegetables.
Make Spiced Almond Milk
One of my favorite evening snack substitutes is my delicious recipe for Spiced Almond Milk. I’ve found that this simple warm beverage signals to my brain that I’m done and I literally don’t want to eat anything else!
It takes just a minute or two to whip up and is the perfect beverage to unwind with after a busy day. The flavors are warm and comforting!
All you need is:
- 12 oz unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, or whatever milk you have on hand
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground ginger
- pinch of nutmeg
- pinch of ground cloves
To make it, simply warm the milk in the microwave or over the stove, then whisk in your spices.
If you are up for it, I highly recommend blending the mixture in the blender to make it nice and frothy! Then, top with a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, and enjoy your new guilt-free snack habit.
If you are looking for something super simple and effective, I also highly recommend this Gold milk. This is my new favorite evening “snack.” It’s delicious and filling. Plus it quenches my thirst and helps me relax and sleep well.
3) Change up your routine.
Routines are powerful! If you always associate sitting down to watch Netflix with munching on carbs like potato chips and popcorn instead of healthy snacks, change it up!
You’d be surprised at how well it works just to simply do something different than usual. Fold some laundry while you watch your favorite show to keep your hands busy. This will help you adapt to your new healthy habit.
If you’re used to mindless snacking while watching TV in the evenings and find the habit really hard to break, maybe take a bubble bath instead, while you sip on a glass of water. Or do something on the computer. Read a book. Do something that’s different.
4) Go easy.
When it comes to fighting the urge to snack, you can try going cold turkey – or you can ease into it gradually. If you go for the gradual approach, the best way I’ve found is to set your snack window back earlier every night.
For example, the first night, you would say no snacking after 9 pm. The next night, maybe that’s 8:30, and so on. Your appetite will eventually adjust and you’ll be able to hear your hunger cues more clearly.
5) If all else fails…
…go to bed early! It might sound crazy, but your body probably needs the rest and once you’re in bed, it’s doubtful you’ll still be thinking about whatever you’re craving.
Good, deep sleep is fantastic for hormones and will keep you energized (and making better choices) the next day.
By using these simple tips, I’ve broken myself of the habit of evening snacking. But I’ll join you and pledge to be even more diligent about this simple, yet effective baby step toward healthier living.
Is evening snacking an issue for you? If it is, which of these tips will help you the most?