Nighttime Snacking--Tricks to Help - Julie's Healthy Living
 
A common scenario: It's after dinner and the kids are settled in for the night. You curl up on the couch to catch up on your DVR shows or read a book. Something is missing. You go to the kitchen and start rummaging through the freezer, fridge or pantry to find something to nibble. Never mind that you just ate dinner an hour ago and your body isn't really craving food. Chances are you are bored or trying to fill a void that food won't fill.

Now that is not to say that nighttime snacking is off limits. There will be movie nights and/or game nights with the family, gatherings with friends and legitimate hunger pangs that lead you to snack after dinner. However, there are a few tricks that can make nighttime snacking a real treat instead of something that induces later feelings of guilt. Also, dessert seems to be a common thing in many homes. It's the way to signal that dinner is done and the kitchen is closed for the night. I am not in any way suggesting that people change these routines. What I am suggesting is changing the way we snack so we can still achieve our goals.

Things that I do to help with the nighttime munchies. Please feel free to use any of these suggestions.

Hot tea--My favorite thing to do when I start to get the after dinner cravings is to steep a cup of tea. I was a HUGE coffee drinker for years, then I switched to tea. I still drink both; however, more and more I reach for the tea. The picture above is the collection of Bigelow Teas that I get at Sam's Club. I pay 7.86 for 74 tea bags. I only share this little tidbit to show that having healthy choices in your home does not have to cost an arm and a leg. Really hard to argue with 10.5 cents for a cup of tea. Nine out of ten times the tea trick works for me, but I know that not everyone is a tea drinker, so for you I offer these strategies.

Chewing gum--sugar free of course ;). The commercials you see for Extra Gum may be marketing ploys; however, I know for a fact that chewing gum DOES work. NOTHING tastes good after you've been chewing gum, especially the mint flavored gums. Minty gum provides a double appetite trick--peppermint and spearmint aromas are known natural appetite suppressants.

Fruit. Just about any variety of fresh fruit will do. Fruit is a great substitute for sweets. Naturally sweet by mother nature, fruit will not spike your blood sugar or devastate your hard work at the gym. In addition, fruit contains vitamins, nutrients, fiber and water thereby filling you up for little calories.

Popcorn. More bang for your buck than a bag of potato chips. Make sure you air pop it or do it on the stove top with a tablespoon or two of canola oil. Don't drown the popcorn in salt. Mrs. Dash seasonings are a great no-sodium substitute to pump up the flavor. Bonus to popcorn--a good way to sneak in a serving of whole grains. Popcorn is about 15 calories a cup for air popped and about 50 calories when popped with the oil. Again, little calories to fill you up and not defeat your efforts.

Dark Chocolate--proceed with caution. If you are prone to binges when you bring chocolate into your home then I suggest not having chocolate in your home. If you are someone who enjoys chocolate in moderation then I recommended making the switch to dark chocolate. The higher the cacao content the better for you. Dark chocolate contains flavanoids and antioxidants that are heart healthy in the proper portion size. A recommended serving for most brands is 1 oz. It sounds like such a small amount. I am a self-confessed chocoholic, so I never thought 1 oz. would satisfy my chocolate love. I was wrong. Because dark chocolate is bitter, a little goes a long way. To keep myself in check I buy a bag of the Green and Blacks Organic Dark Chocolate 70%--they are individually wrapped pieces. Four pieces are 1 oz. so I feel like I'm spoiling myself when the whole treat is about 200 calories. :)

My last suggestion---brush your teeth. Again, NOTHING tastes good with a minty fresh mouth except maybe a glass of water.
Jamie
1/11/2010 21:48:21

Thats funny you just described my evening exactly lol!! Nice to read your story so happy for you that you reached your goals. :)

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Julie
1/15/2010 19:23:25

Thanks Jamie!!!

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