Is Late Night Snacking Causing Weight Gain?

Is late night snacking keeping your weight up? If you are like me, the best part of your day is finally being able to sit and relax while watching TV and snacking on some munchies. Even when most of us eat really well during the day, it is at this time of night that we get into real trouble. Studies show that eating at night does not make you fat unless you exceed your caloric intake for the day. In other words if your maximum intake of calories should be 1800 per day, your nighttime snacks should not bring you over that amount, plan for the snacks to be part of that 1800 calories.

All day long, we run around busy with work or family so we don’t have time to wallow in our worries until we get home and have some quiet time. The problem is we nurse our woes with food. Since we just finished dinner, we know we are not really hungry, so our late night snacking comes from pure boredom or stress relief.

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Here are some ways to lessen your urge to raid the cupboards:

Make sure you eat enough throughout the day. If you come home late, and have skipped meals all day, you are most likely ravenous. You begin to grab everything in sight and eat way more than you need to. If you are “mini-mealing” it all day, this should be a problem. Keep snacks handy when you are on the go, so you are never feeling hunger pains for long periods of time

You can’t eat what you don’t have. Take the junk food out of your house and trade it in for the good stuff. Always have your fridge stocked with low fat, high fiber, high protein foods that can be prepped in a jiffy.

Learn to indulge in other ways than food. Think of all the things you enjoy, a facial, a manicure, listening to music or a hobby. Pamper yourself with candles or aromatherapy to truly relax. If you are to wired tackle that odd job you have been putting off-keep yourself busy.

Late Night Snacking and Idle Hands…

If you must snack however, try to keep it under 250 calories. This is a great way to do it. Try foods that are high in fiber and with lean proteins and low fat. Heavy foods or sugar will only keep you up at night, so keep it to a minimum. Some foods I call snack traps are anything involving chips, crackers, cheese or those 100 calories individual snack cakes because in moderation they are okay but who can stop eating them after one serving, not me.

Try these instead:

Something Sweet:
Fresh fruit
Cottage cheese with sugar free jam
High fiber cereal with a sprinkling of cinnamon
Something creamy:
Plain Yogurt with some bran flakes
Nonfat fruit smoothie (try freezing it for a creamy treat!)
Something crunchy:
Low fat hummus with carrots
Crispy salad with anise and cucumbers with balsamic vinegar
Something savory:
Low fat egg white salad
Turkey or chicken luncheon meats

Herbal teas
Chicken or beef broth

Again, all in moderation and don’t eat too close to bedtime, it will interrupt your sleep patterns. Good night snacking!

-Fiorella DiCarlo RD, RDN, CDN

Bonus time: Watch my segment on foods that keep you up at night.

Fiorella DiCarlo RD, RDN, CDN