How to Shut Down Evening Snacking

This evening I reached my intake limit fairly early – about 6:30pm. Regrettable, but sometimes it happens. Unfortunately, my body didn’t really get the message so it’s been aiming me at the kitchen relentlessly all evening. It’s not going to work tonight. Although tonight I’m running on logic and willpower (Logic: Dear body, we’ve had more than enough fuel today. Willpower: Therefore I will NOT put another thing into the hopper today), that’s not always a sure bet. In fact, it’s usually a bad bet. Willpower is not a muscle, it doesn’t get stronger the more you use it. It’s a finite resource, it gets depleted every time you use it until it’s gone.

Here are some of my methods for shutting down evening snacking:

  • Brush my teeth once I’m done eating for the day. Gets my mouth out of the food zone.
  • Take a long bath with a good book – keeps me out of the kitchen.
  • Occupy my hands. Hobbies such as knitting, sewing, embroidery, calligraphy – really any hobby that leaves me unable to stuff my face is a good one.
  • Go do something that doesn’t involve food. A walk. Shopping for new clothes (!). Visiting a friend. Playing with the dog.
  • Exercise! Hit the gym.
  • Drink a big glass of water whenever I find myself absentmindedly stalking the fridge.
  • Sugar-free gum, if I absolutely must have something in my mouth.
  • If all else fails – go to bed. Seriously. If I absolutely can’t shut down the urges and I don’t want to give in, it’s sleepin’ time.

Watching television is a terrible idea. Mindless snacking is so easy, yet so counterproductive. Going out to the movies is borderline – yes you’re away from the kitchen, but if popcorn and candy have a siren song you can’t resist, that’s not a win. For me, it’s not a problem because I’m a cheapskate, but evaluate for yourself and determine if going to the movies would be a good or bad idea.

So, all that being said…I’m going to bed.

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6 Responses to “How to Shut Down Evening Snacking”

  1. Rachel Says:

    Spot on. Thinking about the evening danger zone so much lately. This evening I ate dinner in front of the TV and went back for seconds needlessly, just because I was enjoying that comforting, familiar, mind-numbing combination of entertainment and food. Also, some stuff had been laying around the house since Christmas that I hadn’t given a single thought to (mini candy canes and lemon curd in the fridge that was used for a holiday recipe) until tonight. I’m not wild about these things, but I ate some of both anyway because a particular mood struck. I’m safest if I stay at home in the evening–my moods cannot be trusted near a concession stand or grocery store right now–but home isn’t ENTIRELY safe until I clear out all the problematic items. It’s all common sense and yet here I am, struggling to make it all come together.

    Thank you for writing; I love the way your blog helps me understand the realities of maintenance long before I’m even there. I like to think that if I study a realistic depiction of maintenance, such as the one you provide here, it won’t throw me for such a loop if/when I get to where I want to be again. I lost a good chunk twice in my life and regained it (plus more) promptly because I thought the hard work was over when I saw a certain number. Oldest story in the book.

  2. Caron Says:

    Great post. I especially love the willpower statement. Even though I’ve been in maintenance for many years, my willpower has not become this great thing that carries me through the rough patches. I am still susceptible to overeating or a binge almost without warning.

    I’ve noticed my husband is eating later and later into the evening but I hesitate to mention it as I know he is under some stress right now. He isn’t gaining but he isn’t losing the last seven pounds either. Thanks for some great ideas. Can I quote you on the willpower? I’ll link back to you of course. 🙂

  3. Andie Says:

    I’m a big believer in just going to bed – the added benefit is that being well-rested makes it easier the next day!

  4. overextended Says:

    You hit the nail on the head. As winter settles in, I swear mother nature is trying to fatten us up! Willpower is certainly finite. Haven’t we all tested that in our past? And failed?

    My go-to activities are exercising (when I can), going outside to do yardwork, or tackling a larger organizational/cleaning project (i.e. the basement, a closet) that is far removed from the kitchen.

    So much of the battle is getting a brain that thinks incessantly about food to think about anything other than food!

  5. Yoko Olsgaard Says:

    My secret for moments of desperation when the treats in the fridge are calling my name is… A hot pot of fruity tea with skim milk and splenda makes me think I had a treat. Served in a beautiful china with a bone china tea cup – it somehow seems to be more than just a cup of tea.

    I made it through last night without touching the ice cream!!! Happy me!


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