Put An End To Late Night Cravings

Do you find yourself undoing all the hard work you put into eating healthy as soon as you sit down to watch TV at night? Suddenly, thoughts of ice cream, cookies, popcorn, chips, or your favorite snack start to consume your mind. Personally, it’s always peanut butter for me. These late-night hunger cravings often lead us to consume unnecessary calories, especially when we give in to our cravings. Are you ready to put an end to these cravings? Follow these easy steps to make it happen.

  1. Plan your meals wisely: Take the time to sit down and determine what you will have for each meal and snack. This will help you stick to the necessary calorie intake and prevent you from falling victim to your cravings. Make sure to include breakfast in your plan and aim to consume sufficient protein. It is recommended to have 50-175 grams of protein per day, so if you can’t get enough in a meal, save the remaining amount for a snack. For example, a three-ounce serving of chicken provides approximately 27 grams of protein.
  2. Boost your fiber intake: Fiber is a crucial component in fighting off those late-night cravings. Aim to consume 25 to 40 grams of fiber per day. You can find fiber in vegetables, fruits (especially in the skin or pulp), and whole grains (such as popcorn). If it’s challenging to get enough fiber during your meals, use fruits as snacks to increase your daily fiber intake.
  3. Get enough sleep: Ensure you get seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Studies have shown that an adequate amount of sleep reduces calorie intake and helps regulate satiety. Lack of sleep disrupts hormone levels that affect appetite, leading to unnecessary calorie consumption. So, tuck the kids in bed and make sure to prioritize your own sleep.
  4. Eliminate distractions: Turn off the TV, computer, or phone while eating. When you engage in other activities while eating, you become distracted and may lose track of how much you’ve consumed. Take the time to fully enjoy your food and the company of your family by eliminating these distractions. By doing so, you can better recognize the signals your brain sends about your satiety level and prevent overeating. If you feel the need to snack at night, leave the snack in the pantry. Bringing it to the couch with you will likely lead to consuming more than necessary.
  5. Assess your hunger: When a late-night craving strikes, pause and ask yourself if you’re genuinely hungry or simply bored. If it’s true hunger, evaluate what you had for dinner and choose an appropriate snack. Opt for something like an apple instead of reaching for an entire bag of chips. Who eats multiple apples in one sitting, right? If you crave something sweet, go ahead, but consume it in a sensible portion size like 1 or 2 small cookies, and avoid turning it into an evening habit.

For more valuable nutrition tips, tune in to the Bite by Bite; Nutrition for Life podcast. New episodes are released on the 4th Wednesday of every month.

– Monica Nagele is the County Extension Director and educator of health and human science for the Montgomery County Purdue Extension.