10 Tips to Curb Your Evening Snack Habit
- Written by Kelly Harris
- May 26, 2021
- 6 min read
We’ve all been there. It’s around 9.48pm and you’re just digging into “one last episode before bed” of whatever great bingeworthy Netflix show is hot at the moment…and you get that snacky feeling. You know it. I know it. And if you give in, you know you’ll regret it when you wake up with that undigested, heavy feeling in the morning.
There are lots of reasons that people want to curb their nighttime snacking habit. It’s such a pitfall for people struggling to lose weight, when you’re dealing with serious eating disorders like binge eating, or simply just wanting to improve overall digestive health.
Snacking at night can really affect your digestive health and there are plenty of good reasons to kick the habit. Here are ten tips to help you stop snacking at night and some healthy alternatives for when you absolutely MUST have a snack.
1. Stop watching TV
Okay, easier said than done, but this is really the most obvious answer. There are so many people who just don’t watch TV and find more creative ways to spend their evenings. (I can see you rolling your eyes, but give it a chance!) It takes 21 days to change your habits, so if you can survive 21 evenings (or at least weekday evenings) without watching TV, I promise you’ll find you just aren’t snacking as much because watching television has been found to be a big trigger for increasing snacking frequency and volume.
2. Keep your hands busy
So, you absolutely refuse to stop watching TV at night. Or your partner wants to watch TV and you don’t want to spend your evening separate from them. Fair enough. Try keeping your hands busy throughout the evening. Take up some kind of craft like knitting or crochet…or wood chip carving. Sometimes we snack just for something to do, and if you’re occupying your hands and brain with something else, you won’t find yourself aimlessly reaching for the bag of crisps quite so easily.
3. Swap the sofa for the gym
Yep. I said it. But you know, in the days before I had children, going to the gym together was actually a wonderful couples’ activity with my spouse. Three or four evenings a week we’d head off to the local gym, do a 45-minute workout and then hang out in the pool and spa area for a bit before returning home feeling relaxed and sleepy. And best of all, no snack cravings. When we did feel the need for a small something before bed, we weren’t craving empty calories and would opt for an oatcake with almond butter or a piece of fruit. I highly recommend giving this a try. Even if you skip the workout, a pleasant evening in the sauna or spa is great too!
4. Swap your snacks
So, it’s the evening and you’re hungry. What should you do? Evening snacks tend to be heavily processed and packaged foods which are poor in nutrients and high in calories. But sometimes you do just NEED an evening snack. I get that. I would encourage you to not make it a regular habit, but for when you do get hungry later in the evening, below you’ll find some great swaps for common evening snack foods.
5. Swap crisps for popcorn
Crisps are high in carbohydrates and fat. Popcorn on the other hand, is high in fibre and if you invest in an inexpensive air popping machine (easily found on Amazon or similar sites) you can make it essentially fat-free or better yet, add a small drizzle of a healthy oil like extra virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil and a sprinkle of natural sea salt. A bowl of popcorn is my favourite snack on movie night at our house!
6. Swap ice cream for “nice cream”
If ice cream is your nighttime crime, then try throwing a frozen banana in the blender or food processor with a little splash of milk or plant milk and a drop of vanilla. You can add a tsp of cacao powder and turn it into chocolate “nice cream”. The texture will be like a delicious soft-serve ice cream and will satisfy your ice cream cravings…but you’re really just eating fruit!
7. Out with chocolate, in with bombs
Fat bombs, that is. They’re better than they sound. If you are one of those people that gets chocolate cravings in the evening and find yourself ploughing through a bar of Dairy Milk, then I’d suggest you go online and find a good recipe for a fat bomb. Make a tupperware container full and keep them in the back of your fridge. Fat bombs are typically part of a ketogenic diet, but frankly, they’re tasty and are extremely low in carbohydrates. Be mindful that they can be high in fat. One or two, however, should satisfy your cravings and fill you up because they are very dense. And best of all they come in lots of delicious flavours – cheesecake, cookie dough, cookies ‘n’ cream, brownie, pecan pie, peanut butter cup and more! Have a look online and see what appeals to you.
8. Salty and sweet swaps
Some people (hands up here!) like salty and sweet snack combos. As a teenager I used to dump a bag of M&M’s into my movie theatre popcorn bucket, getting the salty sweet combo in every handful. Please don’t do that! But there are ways of creating salty and sweet combos which are a bit healthier. My go-to snack now is slices of apple (I love tart and crisp organic pink lady apples) placed on a plate with a tablespoon of natural unsweetened peanut butter. Throughout the evening I dip the apple slices into the peanut butter for a delicious hit of salty and sweet flavours. The fibre from the apple and the fat from the peanut butter also make this a particularly satisfying combo which makes me feel full and satiated after eating it.
9. Go nuts
Be careful with this one. Nuts are pretty calorific and high in fat. But if you know you won’t binge, then serve yourself out a portion of nuts (ideally raw, unroasted nuts) to munch on through the evening. (By the way, a portion of nuts is one handful or around 30 grams.) Nuts are absolutely a healthy option in the right quantities. They are high in protein and fibre and their healthy fat content will leave you feeling satiated. But I’d recommend not putting out the whole tin or jar of nuts or you’ll find you’ve eaten the lion’s share by the end of the night.
10. Get cultured
For some people it’s not the actual eating that is their problem ‘snack’, it’s the fizzy drinks and diet sodas. Don’t fool yourself about that diet soda, by the way. Studies have found that although they may be calorie-free, your brain responds to artificial sweeteners in the same way it would to sugar – by releasing insulin and by craving even more sugary, calorific treats. Frequent rises in insulin have been linked to insulin resistance and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. So, no diet wins there. And while you can’t beat good old H20 water as the beverage of choice, you might find that a probiotic drink in the evening can help improve digestion and satisfy your cravings for a tasty beverage. I make my own delicious, bubbly and fruity water kefir, but there are plenty of good probiotic drink brands out there with a bit of fizz to them. I recommend Remedy brand kombucha as it is natural and sugar-free, but if you’re at all caffeine sensitive, then try to opt for a water kefir which is low in sugars or even a fruity milk kefir instead.