Stop eating after dinner, and you’ll improve insulin sensitivity and encourage your body to burn stored body fat as you sleep. But moving through those evening hours without food can be challenging because of expectations, established habits, and cravings. In this blog post, we’re going to take the pressure off those post-dinner hours and learn how to navigate them comfortably without the calories.
Fasting After Dinner – At-A-Glance
- Eat a protein snack one hour before dinner to reduce cravings.
- Use a Stopper after dinner and comfortably avoid dessert.
- Floss your teeth one hour after dinner to discourage evening snacking.
- Allow yourself to eat a hearty breakfast. It gives you something to look forward to, providing a psychological advantage at night.
How to STOP EATING After Dinner (& Feel Comfortable Doing It) [Video]
In this video, you’ll learn…
- Four suggestions to help you comfortably stop eating after dinner.
- Examples and tips to help you follow each suggestion.
- An in-between option if you feel like you do need to eat before bed.
Eat Protein One Hour Before Dinner
Success with fasting after dinner begins before dinner. When we set out to change our nightly eating schedule, it’s common to just try to muscle it out and push your body to make do with less.
But that puts you on the willpower hamster wheel, where you have no recourse but to tough it out. For those super-humans among us, that works. For the rest of us, it pays to set yourself up for success by eating a high-protein snack one hour before dinner.
Going into dinner in an underfed state is asking for problems. Having a pre-dinner protein snack controls cravings during and after dinner. High-protein foods that I’ve found work well are: 100 to 200 calories of meat, cheese, or hard-boiled eggs.
As I’ve shared before, the mere act of eating stimulates your appetite, but I’ve found that these choices quiet that desire likely because they provide the hunger-satisfying trifecta of protein, fat, and no carbs.
You can certainly experiment with these or other foods to find what works best for you and remember that you always have a fail-safe to short-circuit overeating, which is a Stopper.
Use Stoppers (a.k.a. Eating Disruptors)
I recommend using a Stopper to disrupt eating and end a meal before it turns into dessert. Stoppers can also help you keep snacks from turning into meals.
Any item, drink, or activity that either changes the taste in your mouth or takes time to consume qualifies as a Stopper. This includes chewing minty sugar-free gum, sipping hot or cold tea, sipping an electrolyte drink, walking your dog, and brushing your teeth.
Floss Away the Habit
Whenever we set out to make a positive change, there are challenges, and we must change how we do things. You can argue that changing your evening eating schedule is particularly hard because it requires you to stop doing something you’ve become accustomed to doing.
Most of us have an established nighttime routine, which often involves food.
We can consciously remove eating from that part of the day, but we are left with the subconscious habit. That is the hard part because it generates nagging thoughts, “Boy, a snack would be great right now,” “I wonder what’s in the frige?” “Maybe there’s something I could eat that wouldn’t really be eating.”
If you can relate to this issue, you have two options. One, muster up a nightly dose of willpower, and these habitual thoughts will eventually fade. Or, you can bypass the hardship by replacing the eating habit with one that works against eating, specifically flossing your teeth.
Floss One Hour After Dinner
I really dislike using dental floss, but I love how clean it makes my mouth feel. And flossing one hour after dinner wipes out my desire to snack at night. The way I see it, I just went to the effort to floss; the last thing I want to do now is dirty up my mouth with food.
Make this your replacement habit by setting a timer for one hour after dinner and storing a container of dental floss where you spend your evening time, whether that be next to the TV remote, beside your computer, or elsewhere. Having it handy reduces the initiation barrier, ensuring it gets done.
Flossing in the evening works great, but I still get that there is a lingering mental hurdle, disappointment. Eating is fun. There is nothing wrong with that acknowledgment. In fact, it is the way we were designed, ensuring that we take in enough nutrients for survival.
Therefore, declaring that we will not eat after dinner may be accompanied by some sadness. It helps to have something to look forward to. That something can be a hearty breakfast.
By not eating after dinner, we are setting up an intermittent fasting routine. Many people are already practicing intermittent fasting, just on the other end of the day, meaning they feel comfortable skipping breakfast. That is fine.
However, if you try to fast in both the morning and evening, you might find yourself in a mentally uncomfortable place where you feel like you are burning the candle at both ends. Therefore, if skipping breakfast is causing you to sabotage yourself at night, allow breakfast.
Knowing that you can eat when you wake up gives you a psychological advantage. Your body will handle the morning calories efficiently, and it’s something to look forward to, making it easier to accept not eating at night.
Know Your Limit
And lastly, know your limit. There are many benefits to not eating before bed. However, there is a balance between gaining the benefits and driving yourself crazy with hunger. If the stretch between dinner and bed is too long to feel comfortable, having a small protein snack will help you rest during the night without disrupting your metabolism by heating up your core temperature or spiking insulin.
In a past blog post, I discussed a small study where participants saw improvements in morning blood sugar levels when they stopped eating after dinner and consumed two tablespoons (30 ml) of apple cider vinegar with one ounce of cheese before bed.
The cheese was used to make the vinegar more palatable and was intriguing because it did not take away the blood sugar advantage. Let that be a little food for thought as we wrap up this post. Ultimately, it’s not about how much willpower you can muster; it’s about creating a way of eating that is easy-to-follow, enjoyable, and effective.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day!