How to Stop Night Time Snacking (pro tip: get a kitten!)

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Anna Grotevant, MS, RD

Recently, my husband and I adopted a kitten. We named her Izzy, and now we call her Busy Izzy. She is an incredibly active, fun and vocal little kitty! It has been so great having her around for us, but also as a companion for our 2 year old cat.

Upon some reflection over the past few weeks, I have noticed an unexpected benefit of our new addition- both my husband and I have been snacking a lot less after dinner. With something other than the television or our phones to keep our attention, the urge to snack just isn’t there.

This realization brought me back to something I tell my patients all the time: if you want to reduce your night time snacking, you need to more than just vow to never eat after dinner. You need to shake yourself out of your routine. Turn off the television and do something with your hands. Keep your mind occupied and you won’t even have the urge to dip into the cookie jar.

Snacking at night often relieves boredom, stress or anxiety from the day. Eating (especially sweet, salty or fatty foods) does bring us a form of fleeting pleasure and happiness. The more we use food to cope with our boredom or stress, the more the mind begins to crave it. If you feel sad, eat potato chips and then feel better, your brain learns that the solution to feeling sad is potato chips.

I know how many people struggle with night time eating, and it is often the main contribution to excess calories during the day. If you truly want to stop, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is triggering my eating? Am I physically hungry? Stressed? Bored?
  2. What is the true solution to this problem? A healthy snack? A relaxing activity? An engaging activity?

The more you engage in a healthy activity to combat boredom or stress, the less you will think about food. And if that doesn’t work, you can always adopt a kitten!

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