The Night-time Snack Attack

Hi friends, hope your week is off to a great start. I was reading my Women’s Health magazine yesterday and one article about late-night snacking got my attention. The article explained that research shows that, on average, women take in nearly half of their daily calories at or after dinner. Interesting.

Some scientists also believe that our hunger cycle peaks around 8pm, largely due to the course of evolution: we have been conditioned to chow down after sunset so that we have enough energy to get through the night. Also interesting.

Now I obviously don’t believe everything I read but I found myself relating to both facts. As I continued to read the article, a highly regarded obesity doctor, Yoni Freedhoff, explained that often times this occurs because we are not eating enough during the day and we are actually hungry. [Source] Hm, this sounds like me… most of the time!

Not me… obvs.


[Image source]

Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a difference between having a satisfying snack (when I’m hungry) and mindlessly sticking my hand into a bag of trail mix (often when I’m bored). Lately I have been extra attentive to my body’s cues and more often than not, it tells me that an after-dinner-snack/dessert is in order. But before I eat again after dinner, I turn on the kettle and make myself a cup of tea. Sometimes hunger is confused with thirst.


After I drink my tea I assess my hunger. Literally ask myself: am I hungry? Most nights, the answer is yes. At around 8:30pm or so, I portion out something that will quell my hunger and satisfy my craving. This works for me. I am listening to my hunger cues, honoring them and striving to eat intuitively.

I used to have some greek yogurt and berries but since striving to eat dairy free I have changed this up. I often crave something sweet rather than savory and aim for a bit of protein, fat and carbs. Here are some ideas:

  • Banana/apple and nut butter
  • Oatmeal and fruit
  • Oatmeal and cocoa powder
  • Oatmeal, banana and peanut butter
  • Veggies and hummus
  • Dates and nut butter
  • Dark chocolate and nuts/fruit
  • Celery and peanut butter and raisins
  • Rice cakes with jam and nuts
  • Trail mix: chocolate chips, nuts, seeds, dried fruit
  • Homemade bar with a piece of fruit

Trail mix snack

One of those options usually does the trick. But wait… what if I still want to munch after this snack?! Well nine times out of ten I am bored and not actually hungry so I employ these strategies:

  • Drink more tea
  • Chew gum
  • Brush my teeth
  • Turn off the lights in the kitchen
  • Do something else

These tricks usually work but of course sometimes I find myself reaching into that bag of trail mix more times than I would like.

Kitchen is closed

[Image source]

Happy {healthy} snacking!

P.S. I was a bit late signing up for Lindsay and Elle’s “Elf for Health” challenge but I am so glad to be participating. Elf for Health is a four week health and fitness challenge that runs through the holiday season with a different challenge each day. Check it out and join in on the daily challenges! Today’s challenge: unsubscribe. Unsubscribe from three email lists you no longer wish to receive. Done :) Happy Tuesday friends!

The Lean Green Bean

Questions of the day…

Do you find yourself snacking at night?

What do you usually eat and what strategies do you employ? 

Are you participating in “Elf For Health”?

49 thoughts on “The Night-time Snack Attack

  1. I actually close my kitchen up after dinner so no eating after 6-7 for me .I eat dinner really early. I like going to bed slightly hungry instead of bloated so it’s worked for me. I definitely know I have to eat enough during the day though or else this would be miserable but it’s become routine.

    Smart snacking is crucial I think (at least for me). Great ideas on some snack options!

  2. Usually at night I snack because I’m bored, so I try to brush my teeth after dinner so I don’t fall into that trap. But sometimes even that doesn’t work..

    I need to check out this elf challenge!

  3. I almost always need a snack before bed, but sometimes I still want more afterwards and I start mindlessly snacking. My problem is that lately I’ve been keeping bags of almonds, dried fruit, and other snacky foods right at my desk… I need to put them out of sight and out of mind!

    1. So true about out of sign out of mind. It’s nice to have those emergency snacks but I find a bar less tempting than a bag of nuts of dried fruit.

  4. Ahh I like that you said hunger is confused with thirst sometimes–so true! I don’t usually snack too much at night, as long as I go to the gym. If I go to the gym, I make sure to have a post workout snack and I’m good, but if I skip the gym I usually find myself snacking out of boredom.

  5. I don’t typically snack at night. I don’t like food in my stomach when I lie down. Plus, it gives me heartburn sometimes when I do that. If I do get hungry, I opt for a cup of tea instead. That usually works!

  6. I snack during the day a little too much. It’s hard for me to sleep if I’m hungry though. I used to have a big problem with insomnia when I was going through my eating disorder. I can’t eat a whole lot before bed though or I’ll have bad dreams and wake up with my stomach hurting. My metabolism is still a little messed up.

  7. I definitely find myself hungry at night. Especially because I get most of my workouts in after work,leaving me hungry for the rest of the day. I usually try to eat a piece of fruit or some roasted vegetables because I don’t want to eat too much before I go to bed at 9:30/10ish.

  8. Most of the time if I’m eating at night it’s cause I definitely didn’t eat enough that day so I just let myself eat what I want. And then there’s those nights when I’m anxious about something and I’m stress eating…cue popcorn.

  9. Turning off the kitchen lights seems weird, but it does work for me. I usually eat a good amount at dinner so I’m not usually hungry afterwards. I also go to bed embarrassingly early, so I don’t usually have “late night” snacks, haha.

    1. I am so glad you said that! I originally titled this post “late-night” but I thought “night-time” is way more appropriate given my timing haha

  10. The nighttime is my worst for food. I definitely eat way too much then, and need to work on it. I have been working on it, but it’s still hard! I wish I enjoyed healthy snacks at night, too, but I’d rather have pretzels, or cookies.. my downfall haha

  11. These are great tips! I’m trying really hard to be better about night time snacking. I usually eat dinner pretty late so I am actually hungry and some days work is so busy that I’ll only get to eat part of my lunch. I find that warm tea is a great substitute for snacking too!

  12. In the last little while I’ve changed the way I’ve been eating – particularly eating slightly bigger meals – so I’m not hungry at night any more. But I used to get super hungry around 8 or 8:30 pm. Apple sauce and nut butter or carrots and peanut butter was always a go to! I also loved making mug cakes.

      1. It has been a long process – I was definitely a 6 smaller meal type of gal for a long time! I started to switch when I was home in Toronto (mostly because I was sleeping in! Haha) But I also just got sick of constantly having food on hand. Adding more fat has definitely made meals more satiating!

  13. When I’m hungry at night, I always turn to a cup of tea first. It is such a good way to see whether or not I am actually hungry, or as you said, just bored, I find when I am watching TV I need something to snack on, so I have been scheduling my favourite TV shows around my gym time so I can watch them while I am running or on the elliptical.

  14. Ohhh nighttime snacking … my downfall!! Great tips, especially the turning the light off (even though it sounds dumb) … I am all about eating a snack if I’m actually hungry, but so many times I go back and back and back to the pantry/ fridge without thinking about it, so turning the light off helps me ask myself if I’m hungry or not! Still have a ways to improve on this though :)

  15. I usually always go for the tea at night. I find that it helps to calm my stomach, and usually I don’t get hungry for anything after dinner unless it’s chocolate or if I had a suuuuuper early meal. Lately I have been eating around 7, and by the time I might get hungry I am asleep haha!

  16. I find myself snacking at night. I definitely intake more of my calories at night than during the day but that’s because breakfast is my least favorite meal of the day and dinner is my most most most favorite (plus wine has calories ;) ha) so that’s why I tend to eat more as the day goes on. Plus on weeknights my gym trips are at night so I get hungry after the gym – big dinner time!
    Articles like that one in Women’s Health have been stuck in my head for the last few years now and they often lead me to question myself when I want a snack after dinner. I almost always keep my after-dinner snacks on the healthier and smaller side so I try to give myself permission to have one when I want it. Sometimes I will get in bed to read and literally cannot stop thinking about a snack! That’s when it’s easier to just munch a little something and then move on. Other times I am truly outright hungry and there is no question about it – I want a snack! And sometimes I brush my teeth and get in bed and pass the eff out without having a snack. Every day is different and that’s why I’m trying to abandon the rules around late night snacking…I feel like our society makes us think we have to live by them!

    1. You are so right about societies silly “rules”. I definitely read my magazines with a grain of salt. I do enjoy them but it is also too easy to get consumed by all the nonsense. Hungry? Eat :)

  17. I’m definitely a late-night snacker – after spending years forcing myself to go to bed hungry, I like to avoid that now! I try to avoid boredom snacking, but it definitely happens sometimes…and I’m a sweet snacker at night. My go to is Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with a half scoop of chocolate casein powder and maybe some nut butter or chocolate chips if I’m really hungry. Or a mug cake. Of course, sometimes I go for ice cream instead ;-)

  18. I can’t fall asleep if I’m hungry, so I definitely need to snack on something before I go to sleep — especially since I eat dinner pretty early. I’m usually okay with one snack, but if I don’t eat enough in the earlier part of the day then I become a snacking FIEND when the evening rolls around. My favourite snacks usually involve some kind of yogurt, cereal, and nut butter combo, but I’m partial to popcorn, fruit, and chocolate as well.

  19. Most of my after dinner snacks are things you mentioned like, fruit with a nut butter, a homemade bar, or veggies and hummus. I really try to keep from having the unhealthier snacks so late.

  20. We are definitely twins- I am definitely hungrier in the afternoon- night period, and have wondered how it would be if I ‘front loaded’ alot more of my meals and see how that would work! I try not to chew gum before bed as it gives stomach pains but yep. Boredom eating and I are good mates.

    Those pre bed snacks sound great- nothing like some satisfying carbs to push you into slumber!

  21. This sounds JUST like me, no joke. A lot of my late night hunger comes from actually being hunger; since you suggested it, it probably is because I’m not eating enough during the day. This is definitely something I want to change! I do focus more on getting water in instead of a snack if I think it is boredom snacking, or a cup of tea!

  22. These are such great tips! I love all the research you put into it!

    My nighttime cravings are always sweet, so hot tea with honey usually satisfies them. If hot tea and dark chocolate & almonds isn’t working and I’m desperate, I have a low-fat mini fudgsicle (only 40 calories). It’s not the best option, but it totally satisfies my worst sugar cravings, so I save it for emergencies!

    Lisa @ TSOH

  23. I use the same trick with tea! I think it’s the thirst/hunger confusion. I find it works better than water because the flavor helps convince my brain that we’ve taken care of whatever the issue is. No elf4health for me this year. I missed the sign-up and the second half is during finals, so I figured it would be better not to, but I’m still an elf at heart!!

  24. I’m totally guilty of late-night snacking and I never seem to be satsified. I’m trying to drink more tea and usually gum works. It’s the worst when I have to be doing homework or have to stay up until something is finished. Otherwise I would just try to go to sleep. I sometimes feel like I can easily ruin a day of healthy eating just by mindless snacking. It’s something I’m trying to work on.

  25. I always reach for a glass of water when my stomach starts to growl — if that does not satisfy it, then I know I’m actually hungry and should fuel my body with something. Otherwise, if my stomach isn’t hungry but my mind is, then I get occupied and do something fun. :)

  26. Hi again cute girl!
    Im Leticia from Madrid (nice city if you dont know it, and of course a savory and plenty of taste food!, I love beans, veggies but the omelette with potates, “tortillas de patatas” and the wine and the “tapas” are my heaven).
    I must tell you, I am enjoying a lot reading you because I think you are my double “Leticia” living in Canadá.

    Because most of your healthy style life, eating habits, type of food, snacking, “diet”..are similiar to my life.
    And when i hace read this article I have thought…”I am me!, in front of the fridge at 11 pm…why? why I am hungry after having this big dinner, and lots of snacks during the day, a big bowl of oatmeal fruit and nuts for breakfast and a big dish of beans, meat, veggies, nuts for lunch!?!?!?!?!?

    My craving ideas are usually no sugar jam, a rice cracker with some tahini or…a bit of protein bar.
    And sometimes after that, I want to eat again, so I close the door of the kitchen, I wash my teeth, and go to bedroom as soon as possible and having a look at instagram and fall asleep.

    Congrat for your blog, your healthy journey and thanks for sharing with us, your feelings, thoughts, experiences…

    Sorry for the mistakes, bad grammar and terrible english.
    I need to improve it in order to communicate better,

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