One of the biggest challenges people face when trying to lose weight is nighttime snacking in front of the TV. After a stressful day, who doesn’t enjoy a relaxing evening parked on the couch with a snack watching your favorite shows? Unfortunately this leads to a lot of mindless munching. With all the cooking shows and commercials for candy, salty snacks and fast food, it’s no wonder we seem to be hungry all the time!
So before you tear into that bag of chips or dive head first into the tub of ice cream, ask yourself this: “What am I really hungry for?” Are you really hungry for food or are you bored, stressed out or lonely?
Here are my top 12 tips to help squash the evening snack attack:
1. Eat enough dinner: If you’re trying to lose weight, you may be eating too few calories at meals. While it’s best to make dinner the smallest meal of the day, make sure your dinner includes protein, lots of vegetables and healthy fat so you feel full and satisfied.
2. Brush your teeth: When you’re finished with dinner, brush your teeth. You won’t want to ruin your minty fresh breath
3. Drink something: You may not be staying hydrated enough and confusing thirst with hunger. If you think you’re hungry, try having some water, sparkling water flavored with fruit or herbal tea.
4. Get crafty: Learn to crochet or knit, string some beads, get some colored pencils and start coloring. When you lose yourself in an activity, you’re not thinking about food.
5. Get organized: You know that closet or junk drawer you’ve been meaning to clean out or the desk you’ve been meaning to organize – just do it. The hardest part is getting started.
6. Read for pleasure: Turn off the TV, grab a good book and cup of tea and get cozy. Visit the library for a bunch of free options or download a book on your e-reader.
7. Move it: Take a gentle yoga class, do some light stretching, dust off the Zumba DVD or better yet join a class with a friend.
8. Write something: Many of us mistaken stress, boredom, loneliness or sadness for hunger. Start journaling and work through your feelings. What is it that you really hunger for? A new job, a vacation, companionship?
9. Call someone: When the urge to snack strikes, call someone. You know that friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with? She’s probably fighting the urge to hit the cookie jar too so call her!
10. Pamper yourself: Take a luxurious bubble bath, put on a face mask or give yourself a manicure or pedicure.
11. Learn something: Have you wanted to learn how to create an app, speak a foreign language or take some personal development classes? Take a free online courses on subjects you’ve always wanted to learn about through EdX and Coursera.
12. Go to bed! When you’re tired, your body will craves sugary snacks to stay awake. The later you stay up, the more likely you’ll end up snacking. Make sure you’re getting at least 8 hours of shut eye. Not only will you feel more rested in the morning, you’ll also wake up feeling less bloated.
If after all that, you’re truly hungry, have a small snack which includes fiber and protein. Avoid high carb snacks like crackers and chips which tend to lead to overeating. Some good snack options include a handful of nuts or seeds, celery with hummus, carrots and guacamole, half a banana or apple with a smear of nut butter, a small (1 cup) smoothie, or a cup of soup.