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2 reasons you can't stop snacking in the evening and what to do about it

Let's talk about evening snacking. Specifically, TWO reasons you can’t stop the evening grazing. 

Let’s get right into it. 

The first reason you can't stop snacking in the evening

Not that you never stop snacking - of course you do - but it might feel like you never do- but that reason is because of your hormones

I’m not saying your own hormonal “imbalances”, I’m talking about the natural cycle of your hormones, especially those related to your circadian rhythm, your natural day-night cycle.

Some of the hormones that are higher first thing in the morning include cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones wake you up, get you going, and may contribute to feeling less hungry in the morning. Lingering levels of melatonin have also been suggested to reduce morning appetite. 

Ok. So that’s first thing in the morning. You can probably guess where I’m headed from here. 


Just because these hormones wind down at the end of the day doesn’t mean your appetite does too. On the contrary. And that’s why you’re reading this. 

And another hormone that just might contribute to this evening grazing phenomenon is your hunger hormone, Ghrelin, which is higher in the evening, according to some studies. 

Oh, well it’s no wonder then!

Additionally, if you’ve been stressed, Ghrelin is supposed to be even higher at night. 

So time to stop blaming yourself, like your non-existent willpower, on your inability to eat less than you’d like in the evening. It’s your circadian rhythm and hormones. 

The second reason you can't stop snacking in the evening

The second reason you can't stop the evening snacking, especially if it’s more along the lines of binging, is not eating enough during the day. 

Reasons for not eating enough during the day are many and may include:

  • dieting or other forms of intentional food restriction

  • stress

  • running around

  • poor hunger cues

  • slow moving digestion

  • eating meals to a fullness level of less than 7-8 (pleasant fullness) which can happen from underestimating food portions (like from packing lunch quickly for work), among many others

It’s easy enough to get by during the day not consuming adequate calories. Many of us are busy, running around, working, etc, and may not be fully attuned to our hunger and fullness cues. 

When you plop down on the couch at the end of the night, however, it's a whole different story. Your hunger catches up to you. 

Add stress and tiredness to that and it’s a perfect recipe for snacking galore. 

So what do you do now with this information?

For one, it’s helpful to have an understanding of what’s going on. That way you stop blaming yourself, or supposed 'lack of willpower', for your snacking. 

If you feel you snack too much and would like to snack less, don’t restrict your snacks. Portion out some snacks for yourself. Perhaps pre-pour some popcorn into a bowl, cut up some fruit, cheese, chocolate, or whatever it is you want to eat. Try and add a little protein and/or fibre to your snack for increased satiety. 

And make sure to eat enough during the day. Long periods of fasting, such as in intermittent fasting, can easily contribute to increased hunger levels at night, and on subsequent days.  

And just because your colleague has no problem not eating past 8pm, doesn't mean that it should be easy for you too (I would have a very hard time not eating past 8pm).

If you’re feeling like getting a hold on your night time snacking is an impossible mission and you’d like some support, book a (free, no strings attached) call to chat with me. We can talk about it. 

Lastly, if you feel you’d like to eat less at night, ask yourself why you want to eat less. Is it for weight control? Because your stomach hurts after snacking? Because you simply feel you “shouldn’t”? You’re under no obligation to eat any more or any less. Question your “shoulds”. 


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