Evening eating. Nighttime eating. After dinner snacking.
Whatever the term you use – it can ruin your diet if you are not careful.
Let’s face it. Many of us who struggle with our weight eat snacks at night that fall in the bad category rather than the good category.
I do not generally like to categorize foods into bad and good, but when it comes to evening (after dinner) snacks, some foods really are bad choices and some are good choices.
I loved the bad nighttime snack foods. I’d pick candy over a healthier snack that I knew was better for me because I wanted the candy and did not want the better choice. I’d bake cookies but I would not pop popcorn because it took too long. I’d open up a bag of chips but not peel an orange.
Evening eating can absolutely derail your weight loss plan or it can enhance it. The choice is yours.
For me, I realized that I was eating in the evening from boredom and habit rather than from hunger. When I finally got serious about losing weight, I cut out an evening snack completely and have never gone back to evening eating in the 17 years that I have maintained my weight loss.
I made this decision for several reasons.
- I realized I did better when I ate my calorie allotment during the day rather than trying to save some for the evening.
- I had gotten into the habit of always having junk food at night and wanted to break that habit and replace it with something else.
- I just felt like I needed to stop. (Kinda like when your mom used to say, “Because I said so!”)
Evening eating is very common. It’s not always bad. Some people need or want an evening snack and that’s perfectly fine. But for me, I needed to make a change. If you are like I was, and feel as though evening eating is detrimental to your weight loss efforts, here are several ideas on shifting away from eating after dinner.
1. Close the Kitchen
Put away the dinner dishes, clean the counters, sweep the floor, and turn off the lights. For me, the visual cue of seeing the lights off reminded me that I was done eating for the day.
2. Keep Busy
I found that keeping busy in the evening was a great way to avoid mindlessly eating or heading to the kitchen to whip up a batch of cookies. I scrapbooked, taught myself to knit, wrote in my journal, talked John’s ear off, or called a friend.
Some people find evening exercise revs them up, but it never bothered me. I always walked in the morning, so in the evening I would sometimes lift weights or do part of an exercise video when I needed to take my mind off food.
4. Go to Bed
5. Talk To Yourself
Now, talking to yourself can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on why you are doing it. In this case, talking to yourself can be beneficial. Remind yourself of your goals, remind yourself of your commitment to avoiding nighttime eating, and remind yourself that one good decision builds upon another.
If you are trying to avoid nighttime snacking, I encourage you to give some of these ideas a try. Over time, you will find that you no longer crave brownies at 10:00 p.m. or are tempted to break open your spouse’s stash of chips when the sun goes down.
What tips or tricks do you have for someone who wants to break the nighttime snacking habit? Diane