Breaking Evening Munchies


There are a few simple steps you can take in the day to ward off evening food binges.

It’s practically an American tradition. After a hard day at work you come home, plop yourself down in front of the television and start eating. A bag of potato chips here, a pint of ice cream there. By the time the late night news comes on, you’ve put away a day’s worth of fat and calories in just a few hours.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are a few simple steps you can take in the day to ward off evening food binges. First, eat your breakfast, like your mother always told you. When people eat late at night they wake up full.  Then they skip breakfast, which starts the cycle of not eating properly throughout the day.

Eating three square meals will help keep your blood sugar stable so you won’t feel famished at night. And don’t forget the power of snacking. Eating smaller portions in more frequent intervals, helps stave off hunger while ensuring that your body receives a steady supply of nutrients.

At work, try to keep a bag of trail mix, fruit or other healthy snack within arm’s reach. This will help you avoid that other American tradition, the enormous lunch. And snacking helps you stay alert. As everyone who’s ever nodded off at the computer in the afternoon can tell you, large meals tend to make you tired.

Try to avoid the empty calories of soft drinks and the high fat content of salad dressings, butter and margarine. Contrary to popular opinion, a healthy diet doesn’t have to mean sacrificing treats. In fact, depriving yourself during the day is one way to set yourself up for disaster at night. Enjoy a cookie or small portion of dessert after lunch or dinner. This will satisfy your sweet tooth without putting you over the top in fat and calories.

Since most of us can’t make it from dinner to bedtime without a trip or two to the kitchen, it’s a good idea to have an early evening snack. Stick with light carbohydrates, such as cereal, a piece of fruit or whole grain toast with a bit of jelly. This will keep you from waking up at night with a craving for a pepperoni pizza. Try to limit the amount of time spent in front of the television at night, as all those commercials for junk foods tend to whet the appetite. Reading, crossword puzzles, or exercise are good alternatives.

Since you can’t eat it if you don’t buy it in the first place, limit the amount of junk food you bring home. When you go to the supermarket, do so on a full stomach. Those aisles lined with pies, cakes and potato chips are a lot more tempting when you’re hungry. Remember, if it isn’t it your cupboard or refrigerator, then you can’t be tempted. Don’t forget to include some exercise in your daily routine.

Exercise helps burn calories and improve metabolism. In fact, exercise raises your resting metabolism, so that you’re burning more calories even when you’re not doing anything.

And finally, don’t try to accomplish everything overnight. By focusing on making small improvements in your dietary habits, week by week, you’ll make lasting progress. For instance, you could start by replacing the daily bag of potato chips with a piece of fruit. And be sure to talk about your goals with family members and friends. Telling other people about your goals helps to increase your resolve.