Eating well during the day is easy. Doing the same at night is hard! Those hours between dinner and sleep time rev up cravings. And every food resisted during the day starts shouting your name at night! That’s why you need this short routine to end nighttime snacking.
Why a nighttime routine? Because a routine has power and symbolic relevance. It can remind your body that you don’t need to eat. And you probably don’t snack at nighttime because you’re hungry. You snack because it is your routine. So, let’s replace this eating routine with a better one.
A Simple Plan To Stop Snacking At Night
Step 1: Form A Routine
Do you read before sleep? Some nights, you force yourself into the bed with a book even when you’re not tired. But within a few pages of the book, you’re half asleep. If you read before bed on a regular basis, the act of reading signals your brain it’s time to sleep.
So, similarly, let’s send a signal to your brain that it’s time to stop eating. Do this by ending dinner the same way every night. Maybe this means a piece of fruit. Perhaps you have just a bite of chocolate. Maybe it’s something as simple as a prayer or a statement of thanks for all the good food you’ve eaten in your day. Do this every night. With time, your brain will start to understand your message that the eating part of the day is over.
Step 2: Do Something Calming
Let’s get real. You don’t always eat because you’re hungry. You often eat to just alleviate the stress you’ve experienced in your day. Naturally, you won’t curb the nighttime cravings without reducing the stress. So, do one of the following after dinner:
- Do some light stretches.
- Breathe in and out 10 times slowly from the diaphragm (feel the area under your rib cage expand and contract as you breathe).
- Meditate for 10 minutes.
- Diffuse some essential oils while listening to calming music.
- Write in a gratitude journal.
- Drink soothing teas like chamomile or lavender.
Don’t have any stress? Lucky you! Do this anyway.
Step 3: Plan An Evening Of Activities
Plan an evening that does not involve advertisements or “food porn.” One of the best ways to feel hungry is to look and think about delicious food. We are often bombarded with food images during the night. Your evening routine needs to center around fun, relaxing activities that keep you safe from the onslaught of food temptation.
So, instead of watching the TV commercials, put the volume on mute and get up and stretch. Watch a movie or something that’s been pre-recorded without advertisements. Scroll past the recipe videos while on social media. Or better yet, create a nighttime habit that doesn’t involve electronics. Take a short walk. Read a book. Spend time talking with your family.
This practice needs to become an active part of your evening routine. Because being reminded of food temptation is the fastest way to increase cravings.
Step 4: Keep Drinking Water At Hand
The only reason you probably need to go back into the kitchen after you do the dishes and cooking for the next day is to get water, right? And once you’re in the kitchen, you can open the refrigerator or go searching through the food cabinets. Before you know it, all your good intentions are undone. So, keep yourself out of the kitchen.
Bring a pitcher of water with glasses into the living room. That’s easy enough. And if you need some further incentive to stay out, put a chair in front of the door. Or buy some fake police tape to display at the kitchen entrance to make it a tad bit more dramatic. Just do something that will push you to stay out.
So, that’s the short nighttime routine to end snacking. If evening snacking is a problem, you can’t depend on willpower alone. You need to retrain your brain to stop requesting food after dinner. And this requires effort. Don’t be disappointed if this doesn’t provide instant relief. The point is to transition your mind from associating night time with a snacking time to a relaxing time, engaging in non-food-related activities.
Be patient and kind to yourself. Try this short routine to end nighttime snacking tonight. It will definitely put you on the road to a better nighttime relationship not only with food but also with yourself.