Snacking after Dinner isn’t the Problem

Do you snack after dinner?  Most people think that this is a big problem.  I don’t.  Snacking after dinner ISN’T a problem.  Snacking after dinner is a SYMPTOM of another problem.  

Here’s the thing guys, when our bodies tell us to eat, we should eat.  If you are hungry after dinner, eat.  But if you think that it’s a problem and let’s clarify, if you are happy with your current body composition, energy levels, ability to sleep well, and how you spend your time in the evenings, there is NOTHING WRONG with snacking.  However, if you are not sleeping well, are sluggish, or trying to change your body composition, evening snacking isn’t always helpful.  But why are you snacking?  Most likely because you are hungry!

The first thing that I say to my clients when they express a desire to change this habit is “how is your nutrition throughout the day?  Are you getting enough to eat?  Are you balancing your meals and getting enough nutrients?”.  And before we try to change that evening snacking thing we focus on one meal at a time to make sure they are getting what they need.  

Here are some common reasons why you might be hungry at night:

  • You didn’t have your first meal of the day until lunchtime
  • You skipped lunch
  • You haven’t had enough calories in your meals
  • You aren’t getting enough protein or fat or carbs
  • You are so focused on your children at dinner that you forget to eat enough

If evening snacking is an issue for you, let’s try to improve your daily nutrition habits:

  • Do you eat breakfast?  Have at least a little food with your coffee and try to have some kind of real meal by 9 or 10 am.  Ideally, you have a decent-sized protein serving with about ¾ cup-ish of carbohydrates.  I usually eat 3 poached eggs with potatoes or with rice for breakfast.  Try to find 2-3 quick easy healthy filling breakfasts that you can easily eat each morning.
  • Try to eat lunch by 2 pm, and the same instructions as above: protein and carbs (you need fat too but it usually finds its way in there without much effort, in your salad dressing, avocado, protein serving etc)
  • Hungry when you get home from work?  Try to eat some leftovers, and stick to real food rather than “snack” food.
  • And then eat a well-balanced dinner.
  • Do your best to sit down while you eat and spend at least 5 min focused on eating (rather than multi-tasking).
  • Eat lots of fruits and veggies – they do fill you up and provide so much nourishment
  • Drink lots of water, staying hydrated is SO important!

Once you are getting enough food throughout your day, you just might find that you’re not so hungry in the evenings.  

Now, if evening snacking has become a habit that is difficult to break, even when you are eating enough, here are some tips:

  1. Make a list of your “high priority” treats.  
  2. Decide how often you’d like to enjoy those (maybe once or twice per week?).  
  3. Schedule your special treat nights.
  4. On treat day, buy an appropriate serving of your favourite things, and enjoy it without guilt (after all, it’s part of the week’s nutrition plan!)
  5. Make a list of non-food treats that you can enjoy on other nights (paint your nails, bath, book, special snuggle with your person, there are lots of ways you can treat yourself after a long day!)

Changing habits can be hard!  Try to go one step at a time, make it a habit before adding in the next step.  If you need a little support as you work on building the healthiest lifestyle, please reach out, I LOVE to help!