In a pickle: What to do if you're still hungry after dinner
It's best not to eat anything after 7 p.m., since your body goes into rest mode and burns calories at a slower pace. But what happens if you eat dinner around 5 p.m. and are starving later in the evening? Do you eat or try to fight the craving?
I'll be the first to admit that dessert is by far my favorite meal of the day (yes, I'm calling it a meal). There's nothing better than having dinner, getting the kids to bed, finishing up the dishes and then sitting on the couch with a bowl of mint chip ice cream or a hot, gooey brownie. Unfortunately, as good as this is, I know it's not what's best for my body or my weight loss goals. So if you're legitimately still hungry after dinner and just aching for something sweet, what's a girl to do? Should we cave, night after night, or try to fight this urge for good? Let's fight it — together!
Tip #1: Make sure you're eating enough during the day
A lot of times, nighttime hunger is a direct result of not eating enough during the day. If you eat 1,800 calories per day, try to have consumed between 1,300 and 1,400 before you sit down for dinner. If you keep your body energized and fueled throughout the day, you'll be less likely to snack and crave sugar come nightfall.
Tip #2: Eat something sweet after lunch
Some people like to have something sweet once per day. If this is you, don't fret — just try to eat that something sweet after lunch instead of after dinner. Your metabolism is still in full-force during the day, but after dinner it starts to slow down as you prepare to go to bed. Eating sweets earlier allows your body to burn off the calories instead of storing them as fat.
To curb your sweet tooth, check out this sugar-free banana bread with whole wheat flour recipe >>
Tip #3: Distract yourself
If you're busy, you're less likely to feel the need to munch. Anyone with a child knows this is true. How many times have you looked at the clock and realized it's 1p.m., and you have yet to eat anything? Guilty! Let's commit to keeping ourselves busy after dinner. Go for a walk with your husband, read a few chapters of your latest book, call an old friend or, if you're feeling really motivated, hit the gym!
Tip #4: Drink a large glass of water and brush your teeth
Wash down your dinner with a 10-ounce glass of water. Immediately after finishing the water, go brush your teeth. Use mouthwash if available. Having a clean, minty-fresh feeling in your mouth will help stop you from snacking, since the food will no longer taste good.
Tip #5: Adjust your schedule
Think about what time you eat dinner versus what time you go to bed. If there's a large (think more than four hours) gap between the two, you will more than likely get hungry. Try pushing dinner back an hour and going to bed an hour earlier. Instead of eating dinner at 5 p.m. and going to bed at 10 p.m., have dinner at 6 p.m. and be in bed by 9 p.m. You'd be surprised at how effective this simple strategy is!
Are you a late-night snacker? What are your tips for kicking the habit? Share in the comments below!