You may be able to stop nighttime eating by having a frequent meal plan, eating breakfast, changing what you eat during the day, and practicing stress reduction techniques, among others.

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You may find yourself eating late at night, even if you’re not hungry. Nighttime eating can cause you to eat more calories than you need, which can make it harder to manage your weight.

Here are 10 things you can do to stop eating late in the evening or at night.

1. Identify the cause

Nighttime eating may be the result of daytime habits like boredom or overly restricting your food intake.

However, nighttime eating has also been linked to some eating disorders, including binge eating disorder (BED) and night eating syndrome (NES).

These two disorders are characterized by different eating patterns and behaviors, but they can have the same negative effects on your health.

People with BED typically eat large amounts of food in one sitting and feel out of control while eating. For NES, people graze throughout the evening and wake up during the night to eat. They also consume at least 25% of their daily calories after dinner.

In both, you may use food to curb emotions such as sadness, anger, or frustration. You may also eat even when you’re not hungry.

Both conditions have been linked to obesity, depression, and trouble sleeping.

2. Identify your triggers

You may find it useful to look for a specific pattern of events that usually sets off your nighttime snacking behavior.

For example, you may find that you’re using food to meet an emotional need, rather than physical hunger.

On the other hand, you may be eating at night because your body is used to consuming calories at this time. Your nighttime eating patterns could be influenced by your lack of daytime hunger.

One effective way to identify the triggers of your nighttime eating is to keep a food journal. Tracking your eating and exercise habits alongside your feelings can help you identify patterns. This may enable you to work on breaking any negative cycles of behavior.

3. Use a routine

If you’re overeating at night because you aren’t eating enough during the day, establishing a routine may be helpful.

Structured eating and sleeping times can help regulate your circadian rhythm. This could help you spread your food intake over the day, which could decrease your hunger at night.

A 2019 study found that eating more calories in the morning could decrease your risk of developing overweight or obesity by nearly 50%. Eating more calories at night may increase your risk by up to 80%.

Eating later at night has also been linked to higher calorie intake and poor-quality diets. Over time, this can increase your risk of developing diseases, such as:

Establishing set times to eat and sleep can help you separate the two activities, especially if you wake up to eat during the night.

4. Plan your meals

Meal planning can also help you stick to a routine, spread your food throughout the day, and manage your weight.

Planning your meals and healthy snacks can help you reduce your chances of eating impulsively. Impulsive eating has been associated with higher calorie intake, snacking, and health conditions like obesity.

Having a meal plan can also reduce any anxiety about how much you’re eating. Speak with a healthcare professional about how to develop a meal plan that’s best for your dietary needs.

5. Seek emotional support

Talk with a trusted friend, family member, or a healthcare professional if you’re struggling with nighttime eating.

A doctor could refer you to a mental health professional who can help you develop a treatment plan. This may include different types of psychotherapy, which have been shown to help with many eating disorders.

For example, the authors of a 2017 review suggest that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for BED. CBT for eating disorders can help you identify the thoughts, behaviors, and feelings associated with eating and weight. Once these are identified, the aim is to help you develop healthy habits to better cope with triggers.

Other treatment options may include:

Creating an emotional support network will also help you find ways to manage negative emotions.

6. De-Stress

Anxiety and stress are two common reasons why people eat when they’re not hungry.

Research suggests that relaxation techniques could help manage eating disorders like NES and BED.

In a 2015 study, 44 participants with NES were assigned to one of three groups:

  1. E: Education
  2. PMR: Education and progressive muscle relaxation therapy (PMR)
  3. PMR Plus: PMR and exercise

After 3 weeks, the researchers found that participants in all three groups had fewer symptoms of NES, anxiety, and stress. However, participants in the PMR group had the greatest reduction in food eaten at night.

Some relaxation techniques you may find useful include:

7. Eat regularly throughout the day

Eating a variety of healthy, filling foods during the day can help you reduce your nighttime cravings, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).

The authors of a 2019 review also found that having an infrequent meal pattern is linked with irregular eating habits. The research on how many meals to eat during the day is mixed. However, the authors note that maintaining a regular meal pattern is more important than meal frequency itself regarding appetite control.

8. Include protein at every meal

Different foods can have different effects on your appetite.

Adding protein to each meal and eating more frequently during the day may help reduce your nighttime eating and help with weight management. This is because protein can help keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer.

A 2010 study in 47 males with overweight or obesity compared the influence of consuming high-protein (HP) vs. normal-protein (NP) meals and the frequency of consuming them on hunger management.

The researchers found that HP meals reduced cravings by 60% and cut the desire to eat at night by 50%.

9. Stock up on healthy snacks that are readily accessible

Limiting your consumption of high fat, high sugar, and processed foods is important for weight management and overall health. If snacks with low nutritional value are not within easy reach, you’re less likely to eat them.

Try swapping unhealthy foods for healthy, nutrient-rich foods, such as:

10. Distract yourself

If you’re preoccupied with thoughts of food due to boredom, find something else you enjoy doing in the evening.

Some nighttime activities you can try include:

These can help keep your mind occupied and even help improve your sleep.

Is there a time you should stop eating at night?

The exact time you should stop eating at night depends on several factors, such as your work schedule, culture, and habits. That said, the authors of a 2019 review suggest having an eating period of 8–12 hours a day during daylight hours to match your circadian rhythm.

What time should you stop eating to lose belly fat?

There’s no exact time to stop eating food to lose weight. However, certain dietary tips like intermittent fasting may help you find a time that works best for you.

How can I train myself to eat less?

To help you eat less and reduce your portion sizes, you can try:

  • eating more vegetables
  • eating protein with every meal
  • drinking more water throughout the day
  • using smaller plates
  • eating more slowly


Nighttime eating has been associated with excess calorie intake, obesity, and poor health.

If you’re struggling to stop eating at night, some tips may help you change your habits. These may include eating more protein during the day, practicing relaxation techniques, and identifying your triggers.

Talk with a healthcare professional if you may be living with BE or NES. They can help you develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.