January 19, 2022

Here’s a Quick Way to Curb Your Evening Snacking

Posted by Jessica Penner

Bowl of popcorn in front of a TV

Here’s some OKAY sleep advice… For a good night’s sleep, allow your digestive system a break from food for the last few hours before you hit the sack.

It’s only OKAY advice, because “stop snacking in the evening” isn’t a simple, easy thing to do! GREAT advice includes some practical tips and a plan to implement this difficult task.

I’m going to give some on this GREAT advice, this but first I’ll let you in on a little secret… There’s a reason that you snack in the evening and it’s not because you have no self-control!

There are many powerful physiological and psychological forces that drive us to eat. The exact reasons you eat in the evening are unique to you! To uncover your personal reasons, the first step is to ask yourself “why am I eating right now?”

Yes, before you even try to change your behaviour, it’s important to understand why you do what you do! Once you know why, you can begin making changes. Let’s look at some possible answers and what you could do to find a different solution!

“Why am I eating right now?”

Answer: I’m eating because I physically feel hungry!

On one hand, this is fine. If you’re physically hungry in the evening, then go ahead and have a snack! Your body is hungry for a reason… it needs food!

But maybe you can avoid being hungry in the evening. Take a look at how much you eat during the rest of the day. Are you having a filling breakfast, lunch, and supper?

Many people skip meals, and with the busyness of the day they don’t notice minor signs of hunger. When the evening comes around, it’s time to relax and the body says, “Hey! Remember me! I need food to survive!”

Instead of allowing your hunger to snowball throughout the day, focus on eating foods that are rich in protein and some fat. Those foods will keep you full so that your body won’t need to play catch up in the evening.

Answer: I’m eating for comfort.

Understand that comfort eating is normal. Everyone does it! Eating food with positive associations gives us a boost of dopamine (the pleasure brain chemical).

 However, if comfort eating is the only tool in your mental health toolbox, you may become overly dependent on it! In that case, you would benefit from having other coping mechanisms to turn to. 

Think about what helps you calm your mind! Some ideas include playing an instrument or relaxing music, journaling, going for a walk, taking deep breaths, or calling a friend.

Answer: I’m eating to reward myself.

Food rewards are common in our society. Child falls down and gets hurt? Give her a popsicle to feel better! Child behaves well at the haircut? Reward him with a lollipop!

We end up doing this to ourselves as adults. Tough workout? “I deserve an extra cookie!”  Hard day at work or with the kids? “I deserve to crash on the couch and devour this bag of chips!”

Food is a basic human need, not something to be earned by slugging through a chore!

Non-food rewards are still great though! Buy yourself a special candle, pick up a new book at the library, allow yourself to binge on the latest Netflix series…there are a lot of ways to reward yourself without turning to food!

Answer: I’m eating to feel social.

Isn’t it interesting how everyone seems to gather around the food table at a party despite there being cozy couches a mere five feet away? 

Food brings people together. It’s a way to bond and connect… and that’s a great thing to love about food!

But sometimes people feel compelled to eat simply because everyone else does, or to feel part of the group. This can even happen within couples when one partner pulls out some snacks and invites the other to join in.

There are other ways to achieve that same sense of belonging and connection without eating when you’re not hungry. You can choose a calorie-free beverage (it’s nice to have something to do with your hands), play a board game, or simply focus in on a good conversation.

These are just a few examples to get you thinking. The reason you eat in the evening is going to be unique to you! Just remember: the next time you reach for an evening snack, start by asking yourself “Why am I eating right now?”

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