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2 Habits That Keep The Late-Night Munchies Away

Hunger used to hit me like a freight train each evening. Not anymore.

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illustration gif of woman eating cookies and drinking coffee at midnight, munchies, midnight snacks
Marta Sevilla
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Hunger used to hit me like a freight train every night around 8 p.m.

I never understood how I could float through my day with a regular appetite — wanting something to eat a few hours after I woke up and then lunch in the afternoon — and then feel like a crazed bear hunting for food after the sun went down.

Almost every night around dinner time, my hunger would be at an all-time high. As soon as I scraped my plate clean, I wanted more food. I’d usually end up eating more than an entire meal around 8 p.m., which affected my sleep and made me feel horrible the next day.

This vicious cycle went on for a while, and not only did the pounds pile on, but I was also constantly sluggish and irritable.

Until I talked to a health and fitness coach, I had no idea my late-night hunger could be fixed so easily. I always assumed I was someone who was just hungrier at night and that I’d never be able to get it under control.

But I was wrong.

My health coach had me journal about my food intake, and right away, she noticed the problem: I wasn’t eating enough during the day when I was busy with work and running around taking care of my kids.

I didn’t feel hungry because I was so crazed. Instead of sitting down to a well-balanced meal with one serving of protein, one serving of carbs, and one serving of fat, I’d grab something quick like a bag of low-fat chips and a banana or a veggie sub.

I thought I was being healthy. In reality, I was missing essential fuel to keep my hunger level down at the end of the day when I was slowing down, and my body was like, “Hey! You haven’t fed me enough today.”

Instead of a veggie sub, she suggested a salad with protein and fat, like guacamole. If I was in a hurry during lunch or breakfast and thought I only had the time and appetite to grab a banana, she suggested two bananas and a serving of nuts or nut butter.

I thought I was doing myself a favor by only eating what I was hungry for, but each night, my stomach and brain proved me wrong. The first time I ate as much as she suggested, I was full and felt like I’d overeaten. I was also afraid I’d still eat as much as I normally do at night, defeating the purpose.

However, I noticed something right away. I no longer wanted to snack at night. And when it was dinner time, I was no longer starving, shoveling in food to make up for the nutrients I hadn’t given myself during the day.

The second piece of the puzzle was that I was staying up too late, so even if I had a day when my hunger didn’t sneak up on me, it eventually would because I was relaxed, usually reading or watching television without as many distractions. I would think I was hungry even if I wasn’t.

Normally, I’d get tired around 9 p.m. but then fight through it. Not only did that mess up my regular sleep cycle so that it was harder to fall asleep when I finally did go to bed, but there also were times I’d eat out of pure boredom.

Now, right after a satisfying dinner, I brush my teeth and get ready for bed so that as soon as I’m tired, no matter what time it is, I go to bed without any excuses.

Getting the right amount of sleep and food by bulking up my breakfast and lunch (then grabbing a bigger snack in the afternoon if I wanted one) changed everything. The best part about these two changes is that they weren’t hard — I was getting more sleep, and I wasn’t going hungry.

Another wonderful benefit was that I was no longer crabby, sluggish and irritable during the day, something my entire family appreciated.

If you feel like you can’t beat the late-night munchies, I can’t recommend the above enough.

How many of YOU get the late-night munchies? What do you do about it? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Health