Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years and all the holidays in between. This is the season of good cheer…. and food. So much food. I love food and this is the time of year that some of my favorite dishes are made (sweet potato casserole anyone?). Having all this delicious food around used to be very difficult for me and would usually end in a late night binging fest. Thankfully I have been able to control that unhealthy habit and my holiday eating is much better than it used to be.
These past few weeks though I have noticed that after dinner I have been going back to the kitchen to look for something else to eat. I have no problem with having a little dessert or snack after my dinner, but this snacking is happening even if I am full from dinner. Before I started to eat healthier I would never have thought twice about why I was eating when I wasn’t even hungry, but now I know to stop and figure out why I am wandering to the fridge after a full meal.
In this case, I know it’s because there is just food there. After two Thanksgivings (one with Adam’s family and one with mine), there were plenty of leftovers that we were sent home with, including an apple cranberry crisp that I made and tahini brownie bites. I am not one to waste food, so I eat it. I know this habit can lead to binging on food so I have thought of a few tips that can help curb this “extra” eating. If you know that this is a problem for you, you can use some or all of these ideas to help your snacking.
Make sure you eat enough throughout the day. This is fairly self explanatory, but make sure that you are getting enough food at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Eating enough throughout the day helps curb that nagging feeling after dinner that you didn’t get enough food and you need to eat something more.
Wait 20 minutes after dinner. Before heading straight for dessert the minute you finish your dinner, wait just 20 minutes. Most times just waiting that 20 minutes will give your dinner time to start digesting and you won’t even want to eat anything more. If you do still feel like having something extra, go ahead but make it a small portion.
Plan for a dessert. If you are someone that needs to have a little something extra after dinner, that is totally fine. My husband always wants just a little dessert after his dinner and he makes it work with his eating throughout the day. I don’t really count calories (and neither does he) but if I know that I am going to want to have a piece of that crisp after my dinner, I factor it into my other meals and eat just a little less at lunch or dinner.
Take up a hobby. If you have the habit of always eating at night, think about taking up a hobby to occupy your time. I like to read, and I have recently taken up cross stitching (yes I realize I am like a 65 year old woman). Keeping my mind as well as my hands busy makes it harder to eat brownie bites. If reading or cross stitching isn’t your thing, try yoga or crossword puzzles or jigsaw puzzles, or whatever interests you!
Sip some tea. Tea is a really great way to feel like you are getting a dessert without actually eating a dessert. There are so many different flavors out there like pumpkin spice, cranberry, and even chocolate tea! I love sitting down after dinner with a good book and a mug of hot tea. It’s a great way to wind down before bed and keeps me from eating when I really don’t need to eat.
These are the tips that help me from mindlessly eating after dinner. I am not trying to bash dessert or night snacking at all, I don’t think that they are bad things. I am saying that eating when you aren’t hungry or just because food is there is not a healthy habit to have. Mindlessly eating is never a good thing and can lead to binge eating or eating too much. There is no reason that you can’t enjoy your favorite dishes this holiday season. Don’t feel guilty for making a conscious decision to eat any food. If you do find yourself indulging when you don’t need to, find out why you did, make the choice to not do that again, and then move on. Beating yourself up or falling into a downward spiral of unhealthy eating because of one slip-up is not good. Getting right back on track at the next meal is the best way to stay on your healthy journey!
What are some ways that you avoid mindless or needless night snacking? I would love to hear your tips and be able to share them with all my readers!