Getting the munchies when you’re curled up on the couch with Netflix and a warm blanket is pretty inevitable—those cozy vibes and entertainment might make you crave a crunchy snack, like popcorn, for example.
Whether it’s a mindset issue (you associate entertainment and movies with snacking) or you really are just hungry, those added calories could lead to weight gain over time, especially if it becomes a nightly habit and you’re choosing more carb-laden and sugary foods.
And even if you’re not consuming too much prior to bed to make a real difference in weight, munching away on snacks can stimulate your mind, keeping you awake, or lead to indigestion, which make it harder to fall asleep and snooze as soundly.
Here are a few reasons why you might be eating too much at night and some tips for curbing appetite and finding greater satiety during those evening hours.
Your Dinner is Too Small
If your dinner is too tiny, you might be hungry shortly after and find yourself looking towards your snack collection to settle the late-night munchies.
While you don’t want too heavy of a dinner, which can lead to indigestion and weight gain, you want to make sure you’re eating enough to hold you over until morning. Aim for a balanced meal with fiber, protein and good fats for satiety, as well as enough calories. If you worked out before, you may need a larger meal in order to refuel and repair muscle damage.
You Aren’t Eating Enough in the Day
If you are starving by the end of the day and eat a massive dinner (or keep snacking throughout the night), think about how much you’re eating in the daytime. If you skip meals and snacks earlier to save calories for nighttime, you can crave—and eat—them, plus some extra due to intense cravings and hunger!
To avoid binging later, eat throughout the day to keep energy levels and mood up, as well as your metabolism. This will help increase satiety and suppress appetite so you eat more regular meals.
Home alone with nothing to do before bed? You might be eating out of boredom, rather than hunger. Here’s a tip: if you could eat an apple at that 10 p.m. time, then you’re likely hungry. But if you can’t and only want the cookies or chips, you are just having a craving from lack of activity. Find something fun to do—read a book, call a friend, FaceTime a family member, or play a game. This will help distract you from eating.
You’re Watching TV
We associate TV time and movies with snack foods for our viewing entertainment, but it can lead to an unhealthy pattern with eating late at night if we do it regularly and aren’t in tune with our bodies for hunger cues.
Make a plan to enjoy a healthy snack with your favorite show (just one!) or get all cozy under blankets or with a buddy to forget the snack foods altogether and focus on the entertainment and company instead.