After-dinner and before-bedtime snacking when not hungry can result in consuming unneeded calories. Often this may be due to boredom, stress or tiredness. Try these tips to help banish evening cravings and curb after-dinner snacking; and, if you snack, go for nutritious options.
End Mealtime Madness
Spend a little time planning ahead and grocery shopping for nutritious meals, including breakfast, and snacks throughout the week. When you eat a variety of foods throughout the day according to your hunger and fullness, you're less likely to overeat at night.
Boost Protein and Load up on Fiber
Protein can help you feel full faster and for longer, so ensuring you incorporate protein during meals and snacks may help with mindless snacking.
Some ideas include, a breakfast of oatmeal with a cup of low-fat or fat-free milk, small handful of nuts and fruit, which provide approximately 20 grams of protein. At lunch, a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter (7 grams of protein), half a can of tuna fish (16 grams of protein), half a cup of black beans (7 grams of protein) or a small 4-ounce salmon filet (25 grams of protein) can help push up protein. At dinner, aim for recommended serving sizes such as a small — the size of a deck of cards — 3-ounce chicken breast (27 grams of protein) or a 3-ounce lean top sirloin steak (26 grams of protein).
Dietary fiber also helps us feel full, in addition to being protective of intestinal and heart health. Find fiber in whole grains, legumes such as beans and lentils, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. The daily recommendation for dietary fiber is 14 grams for every 1,000 calories, which is about 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men per day.
Sleep deprivation can impair glucose metabolism and affect hormones linked to hunger, appetite and body weight regulation. When we get too little sleep, we may confuse tiredness for hunger. If you're tempted to keep snacking after a balanced dinner, that may be a sign that your body needs rest. Adults should strive for 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.
Turn off the Screen before You Pick up Your Fork
Screen time may encourage mindless eating and increased food intake. Eating in front of the TV, while playing video games or surfing the Internet can distract attention from what and how much is eaten, reduce satiety signals sent to the brain and lessen memory of snacking.
Still Starving after Dinner?
People often eat out of boredom, because of stress or out of habit rather than from true hunger. Consider asking yourself the following questions before eating: Am I hungry? Am I thirsty? Am I tired? Am I bored? Am I sad?
If you are still hungry after ruling out other factors, it's OK to have a snack. Opt for foods with high protein and fiber and eat small portions slowly, and without distractions.