It’s 8:38pm. You’re sitting in front of the television thumbing through the channels.
You’ve had dinner.
And, you might have even had a snack.
And yet here you sit and you still feel like eating.
Are you hungry?
Nope. Not at all.
But off to the refrigerator or cupboard you wander.
If you relate, as I do, then you struggle with not overeating in the evening. For some of you this happens mid-afternoon at the office. You find yourself noshing away on whatever you can find. It’s often not healthy but even if it is you probably don’t really need it.
Many a pound can be gained through these nightly sessions of overeating. Even when the food is healthy. While I am not big on counting calories it isn’t as if they don’t matter at all so when we down 900 calories in the evening hours the affect can be detrimental to your waistline. Here’s X strategies to nip your “after hours” eating in the bud (or most any time you’re eating when you’re not actually hungry):
- Figure out WHY you’re prone to frequently the cupboards and refrigerator in the evening. Are you bored? Was your day stressful? What’s going on for you? Sometimes just figuring out why you are constantly eating can help you figure out what strategy you need to stop constantly snacking at night.
- Find an alternative. This one piggy-backs on #1. Once you have an idea about why you keep overeating in the evening solve the REAL problem. If you’ve been really stressed do something that actually destresses you – a bath, meditation, prayer, a brisk or calm walk (one works sometimes while the other another time). If you’re tired…..go to bed. If you’re bored start researching a hobby that might fill your evenings. Invest in a good book.
- Hydrate. Sometimes hunger is false hunger and you’re simply a bit dehydrated (or a lot). Divert yourself from the fridge or the cupboard, grab a glass and drink 8-12 ounces of water. Then promptly walk away from the kitchen and give yourself at least 20 minutes before you walk back in. It just might do the trick.
- Eat enough (healthy) calories during the day. I can’t tell you how many people tell me they forget to eat during the day. And while there is a lot of disagreement on whether or not eating at one time of the day is more detrimental to your weight – there is a lot of evidence that not taking enough break between dinner and breakfast can lead to excess weight (and a whole host of other issues – which is why I love intermittent fasting – but that’s a conversation for another post). Beyond the benefits of fasting, eating enough healthy, nourishing calories during the day will signal your body that it’s had what it needs. A day full of junk food will keep your body from feeling nourished and it will simply keep signaling you to give it what it needs.
- Include protein and a healthy fat at each meal (especially dinner). Protein and fat are satiating. Simply put they leave you feeling full for longer. You’ll be less likely to eat because you’ll actually feel full.
- Skip the carb-fest at dinner. Eating foods such as pasta, bread, potatoes or even a giant fruity smoothie at dinner can actually increase the likelihood you’ll overeat later. Why? Because these foods turn into sugars in your body and eating too much sugar can increase your appetite.
- Distraction. We’re always told being distracted is bad but when it comes to snacking having a plan for distraction can be just what you need. While this is similar to #2, here is how it’s different: having a set of things you do to distract yourself from eating (which you determine ahead of time) vs trying to fulfill an unmet need. You might decide to perform 20 squats each time you want to go to the refrigerator. Or maybe you do your nails (because you won’t want to ruin them!). What can you do instead of eating – just to get through the moments of wanting to eat “just because”?
So next time it’s evening (or afternoon) and you keep finding yourself in front of the cupboard or refrigerator mindlessly grabbing food to munch on try out one or two of these strategies. Eliminate “after hours” overeating and in no time you’ll be able to watch the weight start to come off.
Laura Primus is a Bay Area Expert Bay Area health and wellness expert, certified personal trainer, life coach and breast cancer survivor. She specializes in helping women have a body that will support them in achieving anything they desire.
Contact Laura at (925) 876-5891 if you think your body might be getting in the way of your dreams. Not sure if it is? Take this quiz and find out: www.primefitnessbayarea.com/quiz.