Stress eating can happen any time of the day (or night). In fact, it is usually worse in the evening. So, every effort should be made to stop stress eating at night.
You have a hard day at work, or one of the kids give you grief after school. Finally, dinner is over, dishes are cleared, and everyone is asleep except you. You are finally alone and have time to relax. It is so nice and quiet.
Unfortunately, there is also too much time to think about the day and everything that has happened, or might happen. It is all TOO MUCH!
All you can think about is eating something sweet and yummy – the great distractor – to make you feel better. AND . . . you deserve it! What can you do?
There are a few tips I can share that may be helpful. They work for me; maybe they will work for you, too.
When You Want a Snack – WAIT!
This is a tip that not only works in the evening, it is a good one to use anytime of the day when you have the overwhelming urge to grab an unhealthy snack between meals.
Find some other way to distract yourself. Ignore the urge for a few minutes. Tell yourself you will get the snack after you take care of “one more thing.” This gives your body time for the craving to disappear so you can move on with healthier activities.
After 15 or 20 minutes, if you are actually feeling hungry, then maybe your body really needs something. Go for a healthy snack of fruit or a small handful of nuts to take the edge off until meal time (or bedtime).
There is a good chance the craving will fade and you will know that you were in “stress-eating mode” rather a real need to feed your body. Plus, you will have made it through without giving in.
Clean-out Your Pantry – No Junk Food Allowed
Take the necessary steps to make night-time stress eating difficult. Clean out your pantry, freezer and refrigerator. Get rid of all the chips, ice cream, buttery popcorn, hot fudge, cookies, pretzels, and any other favorite munchies that you typically have readily available.
When you have multiple choices of favorite unhealthy snacks lying around, you will almost always go for them. It is difficult to choose healthy alternatives when stress is in control of your mind and body.
If your pantry is bare of such temptations, you are more likely to eat a healthier substitute that you have on hand than you are to jump in your car and drive to get something unhealthy.
When your pantry is clean, make healthy options easy to find and eat. Always have fresh fruit you can peel, or cut up quickly. Also, keep small portions of raw nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts, packaged in snack-sized baggies ready to grab and munch.
Hard-boiled eggs are great for a quick evening, high-protein snack – even a few slices of real cheddar cheese, or apple slices dipped in almond butter.
Snacking can be fun and healthy if you want it to be.
Always Eat at the Table
Eating should be reserved for the kitchen or the dining room. When you get used to eating in the living room, your favorite recliner, or in bed, you will have a much harder time breaking the night-time stress eating habit.
In fact, eating in any of those places creates a double whammy bad habit. You are not only stress eating unhealthy foods, you are doing it in parts of the home that are meant for relaxation (not eating). It can easily lead to overeating and serious weight gain.
For the health of the entire family, make a strict rule that meals and snacks are only eaten in the kitchen, breakfast nook, or dining room. No eating should be allowed on the sofa, the recliner, in front of the TV, in the office, or in bedrooms.
Establish a Healthy Evening Routine
How do you wind down and get ready for bed? That may be part of the problem.
If you make it a habit of grabbing a bag of chips or a big dish of ice cream to eat in front of the TV before you go to bed, you have already established a pattern that must be broken.
Change things up! If your family enjoys dessert, serve smaller dinners so they have room for a small tasty dessert that is served at the end of the meal, with a nice cup of tea or coffee.
Start a tradition of enjoying conversation with the whole family over dessert. Then clear the table and have the whole family go into the living room to watch a little TV before bed.
Or, take a leisurely walk around the block – a great way to relax before settling down for the night.
Another great way to de-stress is to use aromatherapy while taking a long bath. It clears the mind, relaxes the body, and helps release tension for a better night’s sleep.
The more relaxed you are the less likely you will be to indulge in stress eating at night.
I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for a good evening routine.
What ideas to you have for de-stressing and relaxing in the evening before bed?