There are so many variations of the myth that eating at night is bad because it is especially fattening. Except, the calories you consume affect your body the same way, no matter what time of day it is. If it is night time and you are legitimately hungry, it’s okay to have a small, nutritious snack. But if you are eating at night because of emotional triggers or just because you are bored, that is unhealthy. For some people this is a problem. If you are one of those people, here are healthy ways to avoid after-dinner snacking.
Your evening meal should be centered on a high-quality protein source because it is the most filling nutrient for the long run. For dinner entrees prepare skinless poultry, seafood, soy-based foods and other legumes. Occasionally eat lean red meat, because though it’s high in protein, it is also high in calories, cholesterol and saturated fat.
Fiber is the second most filling nutrient and it is essential to good health, therefore try incorporating dietary fiber into your dinner. Also include whole grains like brown rice, couscous, whole grain pasta, and quinoa. Try eating lentils, split peas, beans and other legumes that are high in fiber and contain protein, with green vegetables like kale and spinach. For an appetizer, have salad and eat few colors of vegetables.
Balance your dinner with unsaturated fats from oils, seeds and nuts, some fruits. Try to have sensible dessert such as ice cream with fruit or low fat yogurt. If you balance your dinner with dessert to get a good variety of nutrients, you will feel full and you will be able to stave off later cravings related to deficiencies.
When you have the urge to eat, try to resist it by drinking a glass of water or a cup of tea or decaffeinated coffee. Beverages that don’t have calories are still filling and at times being thirsty can be mistaken for hunger.
If you snack out of boredom at night, look for alternate ways to pass your time and attention. Avoid mindless activities like watching TV or using the web because it could encourage mindless snacking. Find an engaging hobby or maybe read or solve puzzles.
Fight the urge to snack stemming from emotional or stress factors by doing stress reducing activities. Listen to some soothing music, take a walk, meditate or do yoga, find other calming activities or get some exercise.
Pay attention to what triggers your after-dinner snacking,. Maybe it is the television, topics of conversation or certain activities that prompt the urge to eat after dinner. You can keep a food diary if you’d like, to detail when you get urges to eat and what you eat if you struggle with emotional triggers for eating. Keeping a diary like this will help you look for patterns and avoid triggers.
You need to pay attention to your body and learn to differentiate between cravings stemming from emotional causes and those stemming from physiological hunger. You are probably hungry if your stomach is growling and the urge to eat does not go away but intensifies. In such cases, eat a small, nutritionally dense snack, like a handful of nuts, low-fat cheese on whole grain crackers, fruit, or raw vegetable slices with or without a low-fat dip.