So you’ve worked hard all day long, stayed disciplined, ate 3 healthy meals, got your workout in, and now it’s crunch time. That small window between dinner and bedtime. If you can just fight the feeling for a bit longer I can make it to bed without sabotaging the day’s hard work! Then, squadoosh! One bite turns into 2, turns into the whole bag. We’re left feeling defeated and possibly sick to our stomach. We wake up feeling that dreaded hunger in the bottom of our stomachs and mentally the only thing that will make it go away, some carbs. What do we do? How do we stop this repetitive, progress sabotaging cycle?

I’ve lived this scenario more times than I want to admit. I’ve also found ways to overcome this and build habits that are congruent with my goals instead of sabotaging them. Overcoming the late night snacking just might be the one thing that spurs your progress and helps you to wake up every morning feeling great about the day ahead.

First off, the science. Calories in, calories out. When we plan out a great day of nutrition, typically we are not accounting for late night snacks of the sugary and/or salty variety. These calories go into the “we’ll pretend it didn’t happen” category. Unfortunately it did happen and those calories are accounted for. At night right before rest and relaxation, our body puts them into storage, a.k.a. body fat, a.k.a. energy for later.

Second, the mindset. Why do we do this to ourselves? What is spurring these cravings? Is it actually hunger? Or, are we bored and this is how we’ve trained ourselves to act when bored? Are we stressed out from the day and food is a coping mechanism for stress? Are we actually craving carbs? Do we limit carb intake throughout the day in the name of fitness and then give in to end each day? Everyone’s reason is different and at the end of the day we want to build self awareness and understand why we have specific habits. A nutrition coach can help you reveal what may be causing these setbacks for you and then help choose appropriate actions to replace the old actions.

Once you understand yourself and decide that you’re going to tackle your late night nutrition habits it’s time to implement strategies that get you through the nail biting moments. Those times when we choose to stay strong or give in. To get through we’ll prescribe a couple of hacks to help you combat your urge. The most “disciplined” people in fact aren’t more disciplined. They’re just better at not putting themselves in tempting scenarios. These strategies will build upon that idea and set the stage for progress towards more established “discipline” later. 

Try brushing and flossing your teeth immediately after dinner every night. Adding this one habit will make it less likely you give in later. Why? Well no one wants to use their energy to brush and floss twice in a night. If you’ve already done it you just might say no to the snacks knowing that if you do A, you’ll have to do B, again. This one is effective especially if you value your oral hygiene. Combine this with keeping treats stored in your garage instead of the kitchen. Out of sight out of mind is a valid concept that works. You won’t have treats staring at you as often and the added effort of having to go into the cold garage just might save you.

Next up we address the food itself. Always have a well stocked fruit bowl in plain sight in your kitchen. When you wander into the kitchen for a snack, the fruit bowl will be there for you before you see anything else. If you have a craving, grab a piece of fruit and eat that. This simple replacement might cure the craving and keep your blood sugar level stable, preventing further snacking. Having the fruit right in sight and not stuffed away in the fridge is crucial. If after the fruit you still want something else, do it, but hopefully the fruit does the trick! Second, with a coach, establish what your “trigger” or “red light” foods are. These are the items where you can’t eat just one. One bite always turns into a downpour of over consumption. Stock of these foods should not be maintained at your house. You and your coach can find items with small similarities that may replace your trigger foods but not have the effect of the trigger. This will be an experiment and will require the discipline of walking by your favorite snacks at the store and saying,”No.”

Now we turn the focus to not keeping snack foods at your house. This can be especially difficult if you have children who tend to be snack happy individuals. But it can be done. Any snack that is worth consuming is worth the effort. Don’t keep them at your house. However if you feel that you need it badly enough, it’s worth going to the store to get it. When you do so only purchase enough for your immediate consumption, an amount that won’t hang around the house when you’re done. This means potentially going to a convenience store and paying more for a smaller portion than you might at the grocery store or Costco. But the extra dollars you pay make up for themselves when it comes to your health and self confidence. If it’s worth having now then it’s worth going to get now.

Start with one of these habits/actions, see if one works for you, and then progress yourself as you find success. As always remember, we’re in search of progress not perfection. We don’t have to be perfect every day or any day, we just have to be better today than yesterday. We deserve occasional treats. Plan them into your day, week or month and you’ll find that we fall victim to impulse much less often. But if you do, be kind to yourself. It will happen to us all and what matters most is how we respond. Be someone who picks back up and keeps moving forward in stride!

-Coach Derrick

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CrossFit Level 1 Certification

Niko Garcia


Niko comes to Earned Fitness with a wealth of coaching experience having trained under the Yamada’s for 6 years. His enthusiastic yet detailed approach to coaching allows his athletes to excel and find love for a more active lifestyle. 


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