First and foremost, before I can hammer out some strategies for ya, I want to mention that it really doesn’t matter what hot new program you’re doing, what 30 day challenge you’re doing or even the tools I am providing here. Unless your mindset has dealt with WHY you have continuously struggled with your weight, or have been a yo-yo dieter, none of this is going to stick for the long term. So address the mindset first (which we can explore together) and then start to utilize some of these strategies if you struggle with late afternoon and evening snacking.
The challenge when it comes to snacking is when it becomes something we do even when we are not hungry, but for so many other reasons! Over the past 10 years I have seen so many clients struggle with late afternoon and evening snacking, and it is the # 1 thing that gets in the way of their health and wellness goals. This week my client Meg said to me “Julia, this is the first time in years I haven’t eaten after dinner, and if I do need something, I grab some fruit and a dollop of whipped cream. No longer do I grab one thing, then another, then another.” WOW. I thought to myself, I really need to help others struggling with this, and that’s’ why I am writing this blog!
This past week @ Verve 360 Nutrition on social media we have been talking all about this challenge: late afternoon and night time eating. Whether it be from being bored, lonely, grief, or food by association (watching a movie so I need popcorn) we dove in to some strategies that could help put those cravings to rest, and in turn, move you in the direction of your goals. These are the exact 5 solutions I take my clients through to get to the root cause of why it is happening, and how to start solving this challenge.
- Identify the cause: Why is this happening? Habit? Boredom? Grief? Loneliness? You must get to the deep-rooted cause of WHY.
- Identify your triggers: Once you are aware of the cause, you must identify the triggers. Often you will find that eating at night or in the afternoons is you trying to fill a void that is not hunger. Identifying what sets it off is super important. Is it a fight with a loved one, is it watching a sad movie, or maybe it’s because those cookies are in eye sight on your counter which triggers your brain to crave them? I encourage clients to keep a “food and mood” diary. What they ate, when, what they were feeling at the time, and what set it off. This helps us to identify patterns and trends.
- Change your routine: If your nightly routine is sitting in front of the TV and having snacks? (I USED TO BE GUILTY OF THIS!) it may be time to change that up. Is there another activity you can do to relax in the evening? Your brain now associates food with whatever habit you’re currently doing at night, so we must change it up and make a new habit where food isn’t involved!
- Look at your daily eating patterns: Are you restricting your intake during the day? Are you eating mostly carbs and sugar? Do you prioritize protein? Do you go hours without eating?
Finally, are you prioritizing YOU time and fun? Meg told me when we first started that food was the main thing that brought joy to her life. Look at your “Circle of Life” and see what is missing. Where else could you find joy?