After Dinner Munchies
Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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After Dinner Munchies

I have had a few people asking questions about eating snacks in the evening, so I thought I would create another post about snacking at night.

I know Oprah says she doesn't eat after 7 PM, but that doesn't mean it is law. What time do you go to bed? If you go to bed at midnight, eating before 7 PM may leave you hungry. My rule of thumb is to try to get dinner 3 or more hours before bedtime.

Most people eat their largest meal of the day for dinner. Usually this meal is larger than we really 'need' in terms of portion. Therefore, a snack is not usually necessary after dinner because you are not actually hungry. If you are snacking, it is very likely you are snacking because of emotional reasons, boredom, stress, or just plain feeling like eating something. Usually when we eat even though we are not hungry we are choosing things that are high sugar or high fat to satisfy the psychological hunger. Our brains like sugar because it is instant energy and we like fat because it is very dense in energy.

If you are truly hungry after dinner, eat the snacks listed in my snack smart blog. If you are not hungry but just eating for other reasons, then make sure that you eat something that will satisfy your craving with as few calories as possible. Before I give some suggestions, also consider modifying your habits so that you do not snack when hungry. since you are psychologically hungry, avoiding eating will be all about occupying your mind. Change up your routine so that you break the habit of snacking. Sit in a different chair when watching TV so it is a different environment. I know this may sound silly, but just making one change to your environment can help you break a habit. Chew gum or strong mints. Brush your teeth right after dinner so you have a minty mouth and you won't have to do it again before bedtime. Go for a short walk around the block. Make a sign that says "Kitchen Closed" and post it at the entrance to the kitchen after dinner dishes are cleaned up. Call a friend to occupy your mind. Surf the internet because if you are using your hands you are less likely to snack than if you are sitting with your hands free.

If you really feel that psychological need to snack, try to limit calories as much as possible. Set a limit for yourself of less than 100 calories.

Here are some ideas:

Lemon Sorbet (or any flavor, I like the tartness of the lemon)
1 piece of high quality chocolate
Fresh fruit
Sugar free gelatin
Low sugar/sugar free popsicles
Skinny Cow ice cream products
Toffuti frozen products
Light microwave popcorn (100 calorie bag or snack size bag)
6 peanut M&M's
Glass of sugar free beverage (Like Crystal Lite)
Diet V-8 Splash (low sugar fruit juice)

I hope this helps with your evening snacking!

Photo courtesy of beesparkle

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Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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