It’s 9pm and I’ve just put my daughter to bed or returned home from a late night at work. All is quiet except for the occasional key clacking from my husband’s computer. I change into pajamas and turn on the electric teakettle, preparing for another several hours of work before I turn in for the night. This is my time to catch up on emails and bills that pile up throughout the day. This is my time to write. With tea in hand, I settle into the familiar nook next to the oven and begin to work in earnest. It’s when I hit my first involved task that the shadow settles over me.

“This is going to take a while,” my brain grinds, “and it’s going to require some energy. Perhaps you need a snack.”

I try not to react to this voice and take a deep slurp of tea. On the nights where I work late, I try to eat dinner before I come home.

“But you didn’t have dessert and there must be chocolate in the house somewhere.”

“Fruit,” I declare aloud, “I will have fruit.” And so I do. My emails are done and I start writing.

“That was nice,” hisses my brain, “but you still have hours to go.”

Knowing that I’ll be getting to bed around midnight and sick of this voice, I get some crackers from the pantry. I nibble, I work, I nibble, and the crackers are gone. I try to avoid looking at the empty bowl but I’m already getting out of my chair. I can taste the salt on my lips. My arms lengthen even though my mind fights to stay in my seat.

“Just one more bowl,” I hear myself murmur and I know that it’s happened: I’ve become the Night Snacker once more.

How many times have I had this Gollum-esque exchange in my head? I wish I could say that the kitchen was closed after a certain time and that working in another room was the answer to making that stick…but it’s not. I know that part of the problem is that I’m going to be sitting in front of my computer for 3-4 hours after Madeleine goes to bed and I turn to snacking as a companion and reward for my efforts. Sometimes, I’m upset about something which drives me to the pantry more often. Right now, this is probably one of my hardest habits to break. I’ve tried making A LOT of tea to divert myself. I’ve tried carrot sticks/sliced veggies which is totally unappealing when it’s so cold out. The nutritionist that I’ve seen at Harvard Vanguard suggests that I eat a snack like a simple turkey sandwich vs. an entire bag of Goldfish over the course an evening.

What do YOU find works for you?