As the night’s draw in, I’m all about cosying up on the sofa with a blanket, candles on, a Netflix boxset, a glass of red and a bar of chocolate – call me old, but that’s the perfect night in for me. Although I’m very much about all the food, my evening snacking was becoming an issue and was often one of the reasons why I would wake up feeling sluggish and heavy the following day. I would eat in excess, especially if I’d had a particularly “healthy” day of food because I was using it as an excuse to eat more than my body really needed.
I never put any restrictions on my food choices and I’m all about fear-free eating, I hate how dieting mentality creates a guilt culture around food. However, I’m also very conscious about eating mindfully and eating the kinds of foods in the amounts that feel good for my body. After dinner, I allow myself to have something sweet like a few squares of chocolate, but later in the evening, I would go on a snacking frenzy even when I wasn’t particularly hungry I was just eating for eating sake. There have been times when I’ve fallen asleep on the sofa and then woken up and mindlessly raided the biscuits for no reason whatsoever. I don’t think I even enjoyed them at the time because my body didn’t actually need them and personally, food always feels wasted if it doesn’t bring joy – eating should be a pleasurable experience.
In August, I set about focusing on myself again and began a journey of getting back on track with my health and wellness, which I’m writing an update post on to share with you soon. One of the things that I knew I wanted to concentrate on was my mindless evening snacking. I’m one of those people who struggles to switch off so even though I’m quite happy sitting watching a movie I still need to be doing something and that ends up being snacking. I’ve made some major shifts and changes over this past couple of months and there are some things that have really helped me see a transformation in this area.
Ask Yourself “Are You Really Hungry?”
A lot of the time evening snacking isn’t about hunger at all, it’s derived from boredom or tiredness. So if you’re about to raid the kitchen cupboards, what helped me is taking a moment to honestly ask myself “am I actually hungry?” and most of the time the answer was no. In the instances where I was actually hungry, I made sure that I fixed myself a snack, and honoured my bodies needs.
Make Healthier Snack Choices
Upgrading your snack choices is a great way to still enjoy your evening munchies while watching a movie and not miss out, but not leaving you feeling sluggish and sometimes bloated like I was the next day. Bulking up sweeter foods like chocolate or cake with berries and fruit is a nice way to add more fibre to your evening snacks. This may be different for you, but I find that high fibre foods keep me fuller for longer. Therefore, a couple of squares of chocolate and lots of berries or a chopped apple is perfect for me (not to say it will be for you). Alternatively, you can switch up your snacks completely to something like a sliced apple topped with cinnamon for added sweetness or dates stuffed with almond butter, which is another favourite of mine.
There is no right or wrong way here, it’s all about embracing your bodies needs and doing what feels good to you because we’re all different. I also want to reiterate that it’s not about depriving yourself, still allow yourself the sweet stuff if you need it, but changing things up slightly in a way that’s right for your body, which in the long run is going to make you feel fabulous.
Keep Your Mind Busy & Do Something Fun
As mentioned above, if we’re snacking when we’re not hungry it’s usually down to something else, mainly boredom. Finding something that’s fun and engaging will keep your mind busy. Reading or journalling in the evening has been a big help for me to keep my attention focused elsewhere when my belly is satisfied and obviously full after dinner, but the snack monster in me wants more.
Drinking a Sweet Flavoured Herbal Tea
I have a major sweet tooth, so when the urge to snack in the evening arises it’s normally something sugary that I’m after. Drinking my favourite peppermint and liquorice tea has become an evening ritual of mine to help curb these cravings when I’m not hungry. It has just the right amount of sweetness, but also offers that comforting cosy factor too.
Reduce Your Screen Time Before & During Dinner
I’m not just talking about checking your social media feeds while you eat, but also watching the TV during meal times. When your attention is distracted from your food you’re often left unaware of how much you’ve actually eaten. Therefore, even though you’ve satiated your hunger because your attention is pulled elsewhere, you may feel like you’ve eaten less. You miss out on the enjoyment factor of eating and probably don’t even get to taste your food properly because your head is in the TV. We switched to eating dinner solely at the dining table, which has helped me to savour every mouthful and feel satisfied, plus it’s nice to eat together as a family.
These are all things that have worked for me and drawn from my experience when it comes to evening snacking out of boredom. I’ve found them to be really effective and some of them may not work for you at all, but that’s the beauty of bio-individuality – we’re all different and that’s OK.