Do you feel like the later it gets, the more you’re drawn to the kitchen? 

Like once the clock strikes 8 pm, you’re eating shredded cheese over the kitchen sink and feeling ashamed?

If you’re looking for a solution on how to stop snacking at night, you’re in the right place. (Don’t forget to download this FREE checklist and journal too).

In this blog, I’ll share whether snacking is healthy and 10 dietitian tips to help you stop overeating at night. You’ll learn why it’s happening so you can finally overcome late night snacking for good!

Close-up photo of a bag of potato chips laying open.

Is snacking at night bad?

Here’s a better question: is snacking at night healthy for me?

And the answer is… it depends! On what you’re eating, why, and how it leaves you feeling.

That’s because there’s nothing inherently bad about eating in the evening. Your body does not run on a clock and you might need fuel at any time of the day.

But nighttime snacking tends to happen with chips, ice cream and fries. And if we eat those foods in abundance, they might not support our health. 

When snacking is healthy

Snacking might be totally okay (and actually, healthy!) when:

  • It fits your schedule 
  • You’re genuinely hungry 
  • You can stop when you’re satisfied
  • You feel in control during the experience
  • You’re left feeling better physically and mentally

What’s definitely not healthy is feeling out of control around food, experiencing guilt after eating, or eating way more than what’s comfortable for you on a regular basis.

So if that sounds familiar, late night snacking is a habit worth tackling.

Why you’re overeating at night

These are the most common reasons I see people snacking at night

  • Skipping meals – if you skip meals and ignore cues during the day, you’ll likely feel even hungrier later
  • Imbalanced meals – a blood sugar rollercoaster can make appetite and cravings feel inconsistent and intense
  • Unsatisfying meals – if you never let yourself eat the good stuff, your cravings are going to eventually take over
  • Habits – maybe you’re just used to using food to keep you busy!
  • Stress – using food to cope with stress, anxiety, or boredom is common too
  • Poor relationship with food – a poor relationship with food can make you feel drawn to and obsessed with food

There’s a lot that can contribute to snacking at night, and none of it has to do with you being a bad person with no willpower. Understanding your why for eating more than you’d like at night can help prevent it from happening so much in the future. 

Let’s shift into solution mode. What can you do differently to prevent snacking at night?

1) Eat a solid breakfast

An iced coffee does not a breakfast make, my friend. Sorry!!

Start your day with a real breakfast; something that includes protein and fiber. When you include those two nutrients in your breakfast, you’ll feel satisfied and energized for much longer. And a lot less likely to overeat at night.

It doesn’t have to be boring, pinky promise. Check out my Nutella Overnight Oats for a delicious option that I highly recommend. 

White bowl of chocolate oats topped with nutella and banana. Hemp seeds and nutella displayed on counter behind the bowl of oats.

2) Eat when you’re hungry

When you ignore hunger or skip meals, your brains shifts priorities to get you to EAT.

That means lots of food thoughts and cravings… and plenty of physical hunger cues to get your attention.

So if you only eat when you’re really, really hungry… it’s going to feel way more urgent and hard to stop when you’re full. You just can’t overcome your body’s biological need for fuel.

Stop skipping meals and snacks or delaying the inevitable. If you feel hungry–eat! Just find ways to add nutrition to make that food nourishing and filling too.

3) Make room for fun stuff

If you never feel satisfied from what you eat, your body is going to beg you for the fun stuff.

That might mean intense cravings or nighttime snacking that you just can’t shake.

Focus on nutrition, sure. But plan to have fun foods with balanced meals and snacks throughout your week too. Intentionally adding satisfaction to your diet is a real game-changer.

If you’re scared of adding fun foods because you’re used to strictly counting calories, check out this post: How to Stop Calorie Counting & What to Do Instead.

4) Keep nourishing options on deck

If all you have is chips, that’s what you’ll reach for. 

Stock snacks you like but that also offer nutrition. And make them all-the-way ready, as in, just as easy as grabbing the bag of chips. Otherwise, which option are you going to take when hunger strikes? The easiest one!

Here are some easy, healthy snacks to keep at home:

  • Trailmix
  • Baby carrots
  • Tuna packets
  • Grab-and-go fruits
  • Hummus and crackers
  • Single serve greek yogurt

Check out this post for easy ways to eat healthy without cooking (including a HUGE list of healthy convenience foods for download).

5) Keep a food journal

I don’t recommend this so you can micromanage every single bite you eat. This isn’t about weighing your food or tracking calories.. promise!

Instead, journal what you’re eating, why, and how it makes you feel. Track data like:

  • When you eat
  • What you’re eating
  • How you feel before and after
  • How you feel later in the evening

Look for patterns. Does skipping breakfast mean you’ll land elbow deep in the nutella jar before bed? Does skipping protein at lunch mean your cravings for chips are impossible to ignore? Use this info to get curious, not judgemental.

This FREE checklist and journal to help you stop overeating can help you get to the bottom of it.

6) Prioritize rest

Did you know that when you get a crappy night’s sleep or simply don’t get enough rest, your body’s hormone levels change and make you crave sweets?

SO annoying, I know!

Getting a good night’s sleep helps you to eat with more intention and mindfulness. The kind of eating where you can honour cravings without spiralling out of control. And it’s good for your health as a whole too!

Cat sleeping under the covers on a bed with white sheets.

7) Eat a bigger dinner

Sometimes the reason that you’re midnight snacking is simply because dinner wasn’t enough! 

Consider adding more food at dinner (and at other meals, if needed!)… and see how that changes your evening hunger levels and urge to snack.

If your meal feels big enough, consider playing with proportions. A little extra protein and fiber can make a huge difference! 

8) Make a new routine

Maybe you’re snacking just because it’s a habit?

If this is true for you, explore other activities that might feel relaxing and fun for you after dinner. 

Grab a good book, go for a walk, take a bath, or paint your nails. You could consider a craft activity, like learning to embroider with a simple kit or turning on an audiobook or podcast while you finish a puzzle. 

9) Eat more mindfully

It’s hard to feel satisfied when you’re watching and listening to a thousand things while you’re eating.

And when you never feel satisfied, you’re going to look to fulfill that later in the evenings by raiding the cupboards. 

Try to limit distractions at most meals and snacks.

But we never need to be perfect, BTW. If a silent room sounds boring and unrealistic, simply try to pay more attention to the food in front of you. Put the fork down between bites and maybe check-in with your fullness halfway. It can make a huge difference!

10) Ask yourself what you need

If you’re feeling snacky in the evening, ask yourself honestly, “what do I need?”.

Are you hungry? Bored? Needing some chocolate because it’s that time of the month?

You can offer your body the best solution when you know what its real needs are, to begin with. But a lot of us simply forget to check-in! 

Don’t forget to give yourself grace

Real health and wellness is what we do most of the time. 

There is no reason to beat yourself up if you have some delicious snacks. Even if you’re eating those snacks after dinner. And even if they’re a little more ‘fun’ and indulgent once in a while!

And even when you’re working on changing your habits–make sure to give yourself patience and grace. 

Eating well is skill-building. A lot of them actually. So it’s going to take time!

Key takeaways

A lot of factors can contribute to nighttime snacking.

And when you’re learning how to stop snacking at night, understanding what factors are relevant for you is important. Is your nighttime overeating out of habit? Under-fueling? Boredom? Or something else entirely?

Download this free journal to understand why you’re overeating and learn to overcome it:

>>> FREE Checklist + Guided Journal: Understand Your Overeating