Come nighttime, I am pretty much the snack queen. And considering I’ve been going to sleep as late as 2 a.m. since the pandemic reared its head, I’ve had ample time for mindless late-night snacking.
After a few months of evening snack attacks, I knew I wanted to kick my habit to the curb. I found the snacking stimulating, which made it harder to fall asleep at a reasonable hour. The more I ate, the more I felt awake, the more Netflix I watched, and the more I snacked. It was a vicious cycle. Plus, I found that the sugar and sodium in many of my snacks left me feeling bloated and heavy.
I found during my later-hour snacking that I wasn’t reaching for a piece of fruit or a yogurt. Instead, I’d go for chocolate bars, light ice cream (which still adds up when you eat half a pint in a sitting…), popcorn, cheese crackers (my weakness), and way too much nut butter. It was time for a change.
When I commit to changing a habit, there is no turning back. So when I finally decided that enough was enough, I tackled my late-night snacking with full force. I brainstormed ways to try and crush my snack habit until I finally came up with a plan.
Read More: 8 Swaps For Smart Snacking At Home
Finally, I landed on a simple trick I hoped would help: After dinner each night, I’d brush my teeth.
While that may seem silly, I know myself—and I am way too lazy to eat something after brushing my teeth and then be forced to brush them again. I value my time (and my toothpaste)! I wondered if I would stop snacking after I brushed.
Of course, I didn’t want to deprive myself of food if I ended up hungry later at night. After all, I couldn’t suddenly change my bedtime. So I chose to delay my evening workout and eat dinner a little later. I sat down to eat at nine o’clock so that I could brush my teeth right after my meal and watch TV on the couch for a bit before hitting the hay.
To my surprise (and delight), this really worked well! When I started brushing my teeth right after dinner, I stopped grabbing snacks late at night.
My laziness (oh well!) and unwillingness to get up and brush my teeth all over again made snacking feel less exciting. If anything, I ended up drinking more water after dinner, instead. And that likely helped settle some of my munchies without my even realizing it.
This routine change helped me shift my bedtime earlier, too. While I still went to sleep late (usually after midnight), I found I got sleepier earlier and left the couch to go to bed sooner with snacks off the table. Without the stimulation of the food, I was better able to power down and doze off. Plus, I digested my food during those hours of watching television, and so I headed to bed feeling less gassy or bloated than I typically did.
Not to mention, pushing back my workouts and dinner time to make this habit change stick helped me realize I actually prefer working out and eating later in the day.
Ultimately, this small change made it easier for me to get eight hours of sleep—and I woke up feeling more refreshed and ready to start the day. I’ll definitely be sticking with my new trick for the long haul.
Diggin’ What’s Good? For more essential health facts, tips, and inspiration, join our Facebook community, Eating Healthy, today!