6 Ways to Take Control of Your Evening Snacking

What habit has kept you from attaining your weight loss goal in the past?

When we asked that question in our online Full Plate Living program, the most common response was, snacking. Here are a couple examples:

“Late night snacking is my downfall. I do fine all day until 8 o’clock or 9 o’clock, and then it is like I am ‘possessed’ and the ‘sirens of the kitchen’ are calling me.”
“Snacking at night…why or why do I do it when I know what the consequences will be?”

Some people can cut their calories in half if they stop snacking

Most of the time, snacking in the evening is not about hunger. It has more to do with: boredom, stress, fatigue, or just plain habit. This is a problem because it leads to too many calories. Some get as much as half their daily calories from snacking. Not very helpful if you’re trying to lose weight and keep it off.

So what can you do about it?

How our course participants are taking control of their snacking

In their own words, here are some of the solutions our course participants in Are You Eating Enough to Lose Weight? are using:

1. Develop an after dinner ritual

“I have a cup of decaf coffee after dinner. For some reason, that usually provides a mental cue that eating is over for the night. It sounds weird, but it works for me. Of course, it doesn't have to be coffee. If you are a tea person, that would work just as well.”

2. Keep busy doing something fun

“(Snacking) is a hard habit to break! I have had success with taking up a hobby that keeps my hands busy doing something else, such as crocheting or hand quilting. When I am doing one of these activities, I am NOT snacking on food as I do not want my project to get food on it! :)”

3. Plan ahead and eat high fiber foods

“I work eleven hour days and do not get home until 8:30 pm most nights. I would eat supper with my husband really late and then go to bed. I also crave sugary junk after supper. Since starting this program, I make sure that I take supper with me to eat at work or just eat breakfast and lunch since the high fiber food keeps me really full. I'm sleeping better with no heartburn now. I whiz up frozen fruit in a smoothie or sorbet with breakfast and that seems to keep my sugar cravings at bay.”

4. Drink water

“I am…trying to remember to have a glass of water before I reach for food. If it does nothing else at least it slows down the eating.”

5. Plan a healthy snack

“My hubby is a skinny man and he can and does eat alllll the time. My suggestion to each of us…is…cut up carrot sticks, celery sticks, etc and put in little baggies in the fridge. When he brings in the junk food, I…get up and grab a bag of the good stuff.”

6. Ask yourself, “Are you really hungry?”

“Eating in the evening. It seems that evening equals open season! Especially hard after 12-hour shifts, I come home and the first thing I want is to eat. I am reminding myself to remember, 'If I'm not hungry enough to eat an apple, I'm not hungry"

Two questions that help me not snack

In addition to asking yourself, “Are you really hungry?,” I find it helpful to ask myself these two questions:

  • Is eating right now really going to help me?
  • Is there something else I could do that would give me as much pleasure and not interfere with my desire to keep my weight down?

Usually my answer is “No” to the first question and “Yes” to the second one. I then find something else to do and before long I’m not even thinking about snacking anymore.

Be clear on what you mean by taking control of your evening snacking

If getting control of evening snacking is important to you I encourage you to set a SMART goal. To do this you need to be clear on what you mean by “getting control” of evening snacking. For some it may mean no more snacking after supper or a certain time in the evening. For others it may mean not snacking more than once a week or snacking on something other than “junk” food.

Once you set your goal, you can use some of the suggestions in this blog to help you achieve it. If you have some additional tips you think might help someone, please share them with us in the comments sections below.

One final word

You’ve spent a lifetime developing and practicing your snacking habit, so don’t expect it to disappear overnight. It takes an average of 66 days to establish a habit (the range is 18 to 254 days) so give yourself time. Be patient and persistent.


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