Eating at night – we’re all guilty of it from time to time. Who hasn’t curled up with a bowl of salty chips or buttered popcorn while watching a good TV show? But late-night snacking too often is a direct trip to weight gain, which puts you at a greater risk for obesity, heart disease, diabetes and more.

The upside is, like any bad habit, you can break it! Here are some strategies to try:

Eat more, earlier. If you’re skipping meals throughout the day, it’s no wonder you’re bingeing late in the evening. At a minimum, get in a proper breakfast, lunch and dinner – full of filling lean protein, veggies and good carbs. If you’re not a breakfast person, have a small snack before lunch, and make sure to eat a dinner that leaves your stomach content.

Get some structure. Eating (and sleeping) at random times of the day could be the problem. Spread your food intake evenly each day. Consume your meals around the same time, making sure your last meal ends by 7 pm on most nights. Then get some sleep. Lack of zzz’s is linked to overeating, which leads to obesity. A healthy balance of food intake and sleep can help curb your desire for bad snacking.

Pause.  When it comes to cravings, nutrition experts often advise us to take a breather from what we’re feeling at that moment. Grab your phone, check the time and wait 15 minutes before you devour something you really didn’t want or need. Distract yourself with another activity – enjoy a bath, drop an do 10 push ups, have a cup of tea with lemon, something! The point is to get your mind off of reckless snacking.

Have healthy snacks on hand. Actually, just keep junk out of your kitchen. Then, when you do want to nibble on something, have fruit, berries or sugar-free yogurt. Even a popsicle is better than a cupcake.

De-stress. When we’re stressed and overwhelmed, we eat. Food is comfort in times of mental struggle. Find positive ways to relax when you’re anxious about something. Try meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, or a walk outdoors.

 

Stacy Julien is editor in-chief of CRUSH Fitness Magazine.