It can happen to the best of us. It’s that time of night when you’ve settled down for the evening. The overwhelming urge to eat again is nibbling away at you. Temptation is overpowering your willpower even though you know eating at night can cause you to pack on the pounds. Take charge of this late night pest by trying some of these tricks.

1) Learn to recognize when you are truly hungry. Emotional eating causes pounds of weight gain and contributes greatly to our obesity epidemic. Think before you eat. Is your stomach growling? Has it been three or four hours since you had dinner? Or, are you bored, lonely, sad, upset etc.?

2) Brush your teeth right after dinner. Having that clean, just brushed feeling can take away the desire to put something else in your mouth.

3) Make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day. Dehydration can cause false hunger signals. You should be drinking half of your body weight in ounces per day. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs you should drink 75 ounces of water daily.

4) Consume a low or no calorie hot beverage (without caffeine). Hot beverages can give you the feeling of being full or satisfied. Sip it slowly and enjoy your time to relax!

5) Try the 10-minute rule. Have a glass of water. Find something to keep you busy for at least 10-minutes. Then decide if you really need the snack. Chances are you’ll keep yourself occupied longer distracting yourself from the calls of the pantry.

6) Chew gum. If you have the munchies, chew on some sugar-free gum. Five or ten minutes may be all you need to put temptation back in its place. Sweet flavored gum works great to calm sugary cravings too.

7) Exercise! It’s a healthy habit for your mind and body. The feel good endorphins released during physical activity can curb emotional eating. Plus you’re burning calories, not consuming them. If cardio keeps you awake at night, try doing some strength training, pilates, yoga or stretching.

8) Turn off the television. If you’re a nighttime TV watcher you have to fight temptation even more since almost every other commercial is for food. If it’s a show you really like, tape it. Then, you can fast forward through all those enticing commercials. Or, if you can’t wait to watch it, turn your back to the screen during commercial breaks and exercise.

9) Don’t skip breakfast! It really is the most important meal of the day. It gives your metabolism a boost (when it’s at its highest point). Eating a healthy breakfast keeps you from eating too much later in the day. Skipping meals slows down your metabolism.

10) Have a little protein with each meal. This helps regulate blood sugar levels and helps to fill you up. Below is a formula to determine if you consume enough protein each day:
Your weight in lbs ______ by 2.2 = ______ weight in kilograms
Your weight in kilograms ______ x .8 = _______ daily protein requirement

11) Change your eating habits. Try eating five or six small meals a day. This plan fools you into thinking you’re eating more and you stay satisfied longer. Or, try consuming a larger breakfast and lunch, then have a light dinner. This way you are consuming the bulk of your calories early in the day (when you can burn them off). Eating more calories earlier in the day can ward off the need to overeat late at night.

12) Keep a food journal. People that do this in combination with exercise tend to get the most successful weight loss results. Writing it down keeps you honest with yourself. You become more aware of the types of foods you ingest and how much.

13) Ignore the urge and go to bed. When you consistently don’t get enough sleep hormones are triggered in your body that increase your appetite (ghrelin increases, leptin suppresses). Lack of sleep causes leptin levels to decline and ghrelin levels to rise. This means you won’t feel as satisfied after you eat and you’ll have the desire to have more (resulting in overeating). Adults need 7-8 hours of sleep. People that get enough sleep tend to weigh less. So, there are benefits to saying “no” to those late night cravings. Your body will thank you for the extra winks. Plus, you won’t feel guilty for eating those extra calories you can’t burn off.

Overall, learn to listen to your body. Identify what your true hunger signals are. Be cognizant of what you’re eating. Is it healthy and nutritious for your body? Will it give you energy or cause a sugar crash? If you surrender to temptation, don’t beat yourself up. Tomorrow, make a fresh start. Set small goals for yourself until you can ultimately say “no” to the nighttime munchies. Stay positive, active and mindful.

Author's Bio: 

Wendy Stoll is a certified personal trainer with over 18 years of experience in Lansing, MI. She specializes in exercise program design for women. Wendy has worked with a diverse clientele base from age 9 to 89. She can be reached at 517-327-1992 or