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Nutrition, General Health

How to Avoid Eating Junk Food at Night

By Shannon Cole on Jul 17, 2023 10:00:00 AM
5 Minutes Reading Time


It’s 9 p.m., you’ve stayed on track with your nutrition for the day, but the ice cream, cookies, and snacks in the pantry are calling your name.

You were able to control your cravings during the day and the idea of junk food never even crossed your mind, but now that the day has finally come to a close, and the craziness has died down, you’re suddenly craving anything and everything that wouldn’t be considered “healthy.”

We’ve all been there, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up for indulging every once in a while, but if you find yourself eating junk food most nights and can’t figure out how to put a stop to it, keep reading.

Drink Water

It’s amazing how water influences our hunger and cravings. If your water intake is less than adequate, it shouldn’t be a big surprise that you are hungrier than usual, and even crave heavily processed foods.

Water is a natural appetite suppressant, and a lot of times, people mistake dehydration or thirstiness for hunger. Drinking enough water throughout the day can not only lead you to a feeling of fullness and satiety, but can improve mental clarity and concentration. And for me, at least, when I can’t focus or my mood is off, it’s always a good time for a snack.

Next time you reach for the chips or cookies, drink at least 8 ounces of water and wait 20 minutes. You many be surprised that you don’t want something to eat anymore.

Eat More During the Day

When we want to eat better, our motivation and adherence to a better nutrition plan is always highest in the morning. But by the evening, junk food seems a little more appealing.

The biggest mistake people make is that they feel like they need to eat far fewer calories than they should. When your goal is to work out every day, and maintain a 1,200-1,400 calories-per-day diet, no wonder you are starving for some food that has a high amount of sugar, fat, or sodium.

Start by increasing your daily calorie intake by 200 calories, and see how you feel!

Treat Yourself

If you have the mindset that you can’t have junk food, guess what will happen? Your favorite snack food will ALWAYS be on your mind, and it won’t go away until you have some (or multiple servings) of it.

Your nutrition doesn’t need to be perfect, and you can even treat yourself to something you truly enjoy eating every day. This could be adding some whipped cream on the top of your protein shake to make it feel like a dessert, or getting the snack-sized bag of chips with your grilled chicken salad. 

As long as portions are reasonable, and you can honestly say that 70-80% of your daily calories come from nutrient-dense, whole foods, a little, daily treat isn’t going to cause much harm. In fact, you’ll likely crave these foods even less in the evenings.

Protein Intake

Meeting your daily protein goal makes a huge difference in satiety and cravings.

Studies continue to show that protein helps to keep you feeling fuller, longer, and can lead to a reduction in cravings both during the day, and at night. 

Make sure you are starting your day with 15 to 20 grams of protein, which can help keep you on track throughout the day. If you are not consuming .8 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, your protein intake is too low.

It takes less than 30 seconds to calculate how much protein you should be consuming. And for some, it may be shocking how little their protein intake is.

Look at Alternatives

I don’t like denying people of a “bad” food or snack, because it can eventually lead to unhealthy and disordered eating habits.

It is not impossible to eat well and take care of our bodies, while still enjoying treats and snacks here and there. There are so many snack options out there that actually taste good while also providing many nutritional benefits.

I like keeping my pantry stocked with foods that taste like junk food, when they actually make for a great, nutritious snack. Magic Spoon has an amazing selection of cereals that replicate your childhood favorites, while Organifi offers delicious, plant-based protein, perfect for making protein-packed cookies, shakes, and other treats.

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Shannon Cole

Shannon Cole is an ISSA certified personal trainer and lives in the Dallas area. She is a certified nutrition coach through NASM and NCI, and is currently pursuing her M.S. in Sports Science and Rehabilitation. After obtaining her B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication she eventually gravitated to personal training, and hasn't turned back since. Her passion for athletics and fitness initially stemmed from her high school years playing golf, and her love for the sport still hasn't faded; her career goal is to obtain her Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) certification and develop strength and conditioning programs for golfers. You can usually find her working out in her garage gym, or training for the next Spartan Race with her husband.

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