By Erin McKenna, RDN, CDN
There are many reasons that someone may overeat at night, including restricting food during the day, boredom or tiredness.
Here are some tips to help drive away those night time cravings.
Plan Your Meals
It is very important to not skip meals throughout the day. Skipping meals can lead to over-indulging at night. You may feel like you have to make up for the calories missed throughout the day. This can slow your metabolism and lead to weight gain. Focus on planning healthy meals and snacks throughout the day.
Protein & Produce (fiber) at all meals and snacks
Including both protein and fiber at your meals and snacks provides satisfaction. Your body will digest them slowly, which will sustain you until your next meal. Aim to get between 60-80 grams of protein per day, 25 grams of fiber for women and 38 grams of fiber for men. Spread out your protein and fiber intake throughout the day; aim to have three planned meals with two-three snacks per day. This will help prevent you from overeating at night.
Figure out why you’re eating
Nighttime eating may be due to restricting food during the day, leading to overeating at night. It can also be caused by boredom, habit or emotional eating. Identifying the cause will help you start to take the steps to solve your nighttime eating problems. Ask yourself if you’re really hungry. If you are truly hungry, you should have a healthy balanced snack such as an apple with peanut butter.
Turn off the screen
So many people tend to mindlessly eat while watching TV. If you decide you would like to have a snack at night, sit at the dinner table, turn off the TV and eat your snack. If you find that you are just very bored and are looking for something to do, find an activity that you like. It could be doing a crossword puzzle, painting your nails, knitting, or maybe make a nice hot cup of relaxing tea. Find what works for you.
Erin McKenna is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is currently working with Bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients. She works with patients to help them achieve their health and weight loss goals.