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How to Stop Snacking After Dinner

Ugh.  Easily the hardest part of sticking to my nutrition goals comes when the clock strikes 12Have you been wondering how to stop snacking after dinner?  This has plagued me for years.  Whether I’m focused on calorie-counting or eating right, I always have the biggest trouble at night.

I’m not sold that the act of eating late at night is bad for you (at least, not as long as you’re within your daily calorie goals and moving your body efficiently) – but in 2015 the Washington Post shared some other thoughts on the matter

Regardless, recently I’ve focused on how to stop snacking after dinner and found some tips that really work for me.  Here’s hoping they can offer you some help, too!

Tips to Stop Snacking After Dinner

Tips to Quit Late Night Snacking

Eat if You’re Hungry

Listen, if your body is telling you that you are honest-to-goodness hungry, then you need to eat.

No WAY should you just drink some water or try to ignore your hunger pangs simply because it’s a certain time of day. Our bodies are designed to notify us when they need sustenance for energy and basic functions!  If yours is hungry (even if you recently ate!), then by all means, hunker down for some food!

Use your best judgment here and maybe choose a snack that will offer you the most nutrition possible.  Instead of a crunchy, salty bag of chips – grab a tub of Greek yogurt!  You’ll have an awesome protein punch without feeling weighed down by too much snacking.

Have the Treat and Move ON

Which brings me to my next thought: if you cannot possibly help yourself and that delicious, delectable treat is calling your name – portion out a piece and move on

Let yourself enjoy whatever snack you have to have. 

Please don’t beat yourself up.  Enjoy it. 

Then, happily continue on with the rest of your night.

I think for a lot of us, once we go “off plan,” we have a tendency to throw in the towel and just say, “Well, I ruined the night.  Might as well have all the snacks I can find and start again tomorrow.”

But that’s not necessary. 

When needed, just have a portion of whatever treat you’re craving and be done.  Grant yourself grace.

One trick we use in our house for how to stop snacking after dinner is to reach for a Tootsie Pop when we’re in need of a sugar fix.  The calorie count isn’t crazy high and they last for several minutes.  Hopefully, by the time you’ve finished the lollipop, the craving will have passed with minimal “damage”.

Don’t Keep Munch-Worthy Snacks in House

If you find that you’re having too much trouble saying, “No!” to those delicious looking treats in the pantry, maybe you shouldn’t keep them in there at all.

I’m not suggesting that you should cut them out of your life (because I am absolutely NOT a fan of restriction). 

…but I do believe there is something to be said for having limited access to special things.

For example, my sweet husband can absolutely not have cookies ‘n cream ice cream in the house – or he will devour the entire tub within days.   (It doesn’t matter how big the tub is.)  The man just cannot help himself.  It’s simply way too big of a trigger for him.

So, we try not to keep that particular ice cream around.  Not because he “can’t have it”, but just because it doesn’t fit with his personal goals.

When he wants ice cream, he’ll make a special trip to our local ice cream parlor!  That way, he can still enjoy the yummy treat – but 100% on his terms.

If you can’t totally remove the snack (maybe it’s part of the kids’ stash!), just put it further out of sight. 

You might find yourself mindlessly stopping at the candy bowl on your kitchen island two or three times a day.  But, if you just move those treats to a more hidden location, you’ll be much less likely to make the effort to go find them!

Up Your Protein Throughout the Day

Another idea for how to stop snacking after dinner is to make sure that you’re getting lots of great protein in throughout your day.  Protein sources can help reduce appetite, boost metabolism, and increase muscle mass according to an article by Healthline.

I’ve found that when I’m focused on protein first, I feel more satisfied between meals and am less likely to look for snacks.  This remains true even after dinner is over. 

Consider finding your protein source for each meal and snack before supplementing with your fats and carbs.  You might be surprised by how satiated you feel!

Eat Your Dessert Immediately

One way I like to “shut down the kitchen” is to eat my dessert immediately following dinner.  This helps my brain to know that food is done for the day.

I have my dinner and then my sweet treat right after.  (I have such a sweet tooth, there is no skipping this step.  Ha!)

This tip is two-fold, because usually I’m quite full from dinner, so there’s not much room for dessert.  So, I’m less likely to over-indulge and I know that the kitchen is now closed.

Tea cup with tea pot for how to stop late night snacking

Have a Cup of Tea

Ooo, I just love this one when it is seasonally appropriate.  I mean, Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea in the Fall? (This is my favorite!Peppermint Tea in the Winter? 

Related: Why We Celebrate the Little Things

Sometimes, all I need to stop the late-night snacking is simply the treat of a small cup of tea!  When I know I get to enjoy something else, the need to snack disappears.  (Especially since, remember, I wasn’t hungry to begin with!)

Brush Your Teeth

Once I’m totally done with eating and drinking anything besides water, I like to brush my teeth.  The minty taste makes everything else completely unappetizing, so I am unlikely to reach for a snack.

I also found that if I go through my entire nighttime routine, it sends a signal to my body that we are in relaxation mode.  I brush my teeth; wash my face; and take my nightly supplements.

Now my body and brain know: Food time is over and it is time to sit back and relax.  (I may, very well, be awake for another few hours, but my mindset is different!)

Distract Yourself

I think, after a long day, I like to reward my hard work by sitting down and vegging out.  Sometimes, that’s with TV and a snack – or maybe just my phone….and a snack.  But usually, it involves a snack.

So, one of my best tips for how to stop late-night snacking is to remember that I have a lot of other activities that I LOVE!  Often, I’m so exhausted once the kids are asleep, I just settle in for the easiest choice and forget about the other things I want to do.

…but consider the activities that you enjoy!  What could you do with your free time instead of snacking?

Here’s what’s on my to-do list:

  • Pick a book from my to-be-read bookshelf
  • Do a craft
  • Color by number
  • Work on my blog (oh, hey!)
  • Other quick self-care type stuff

Related: How to Sneak in Exercise as a Busy Mom

Watch TV with an Activity

And some of the above options can be done while watching TV.  They work really well when you want to watch a show, but need to use your hands!  …because sometimes, the whole reason we snack is simply because we’re so used to snacking!

SO, use your hands for something else!  When you’re too busy coloring a picture, you won’t be able to grab handfuls of popcorn from a bowl on the couch.

When you’re learning to knit, you can’t possibly work on a scarf and snack on a bunch of treats at the same time.

SO, get creative!  And use your hands for something that doesn’t involve snacking.

Tips to End Late-Night Snacking

Honestly, the options that I’ve found for how to stop late-night snacking are actually pretty straight-forward.  But you have to choose to do them mindfully to make it work.  Otherwise, it’ll just be another night with a treat you didn’t really mean to have in the first place.

Do you have any other tips for working on after dinner snacking?  How do you stop yourself from grabbing food from the pantry when you’re not actually hungry?

Join us on Pinterest for more thoughts and ideas about #MomLife.

9 Tricks to Stop late night snacking

About the Author

The Merry Kate

Katie Johansen is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University with her M.A.Ed in Children’s Literature.  She spent 6 years as an elementary school teacher in South Florida before transitioning to stay-at-home #momlife.  Now, it’s all things PB&J – with an extra large cup of coffee on the side.

How to Stop Snacking After Dinner

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  1. Stellar Wellness Niomi | 8th Aug 19

    Great post. I always have the late night munchies and try to be mindful of what and when I eat. Thanks for sharing 😊

    • The Merry Kate | 8th Aug 19

      Yesss, me too! These tips were definitely created from my own tendency to grab those treats way later than necessary! Ha! Glad I could help!

  2. Kristina | 8th Aug 19

    Great advice! I usually do pretty well but there are times I give in to the munchies. Watching tv definitely lends itself to snacking. Exercising while watching tv helps and drinking a cup of decaf coffee also suffices often. I also found, making sure I drink enough water throughout the day, helps to curve my appetite some. Brushing teeth and distraction are also good ones!! Thanks for sharing!

    • The Merry Kate | 8th Aug 19

      Oh, I totally agree! Making sure you’re nicely hydrated is mega-important, too! I hate when a piece of advice is to drink water INSTEAD of eating – as if, drinking water would negate your hunger. But, no doubt about it, if you’re dehydrated, you can definitely misread signals. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Tracy-ann Aston | 8th Aug 19

    I do far too much late night snacking so will start to put these tips into practice 🙂

    • The Merry Kate | 8th Aug 19

      Awesome! Good luck to you!

  4. Mamie | 9th Aug 19

    I do the tea in the evening which helps some. Great suggestions here.

    • The Merry Kate | 10th Aug 19

      Thank you, Mamie! Tea helps because I get excited about the new flavors! Ha!

  5. Trish | 10th Aug 19

    These are useful tips! I’m terrible about eating late night snacks!

    • The Merry Kate | 10th Aug 19

      Me too, Trish! I have to really commit to stopping after dinner – or the snacks take over!

  6. Shannah | 11th Aug 19

    I use most of these ideas too since I’m such an after dinner snacked as well. The ones that work the best for me are the out of sight out of mind (or mouth that is) and distraction!

    • The Merry Kate | 12th Aug 19

      You know, it’s the easiest tip, isn’t it? Just move the treats out of the way! …but sometimes, it’s also the easiest to forget!

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