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Do you get the after-dinner munchies?

Okay, so let’s set the scene. You've finished dinner and, let’s be honest, likely eaten an ample amount and feel full. But then you get that uncontrollable feeling that you just need something extra, maybe a little sweet treat to finish?

It might not be straight away, it could be even an hour or so after dinner, you kind of ‘feel’ like eating something else? You maybe start off with a yogurt or some fruit, but that can lead to a biscuit or three, some chocolate or maybe just mindless snacking on whatever you can lay your hands on. I know I am not the only one who has gone through this – it must feel like I am reading your mind right now, or in your house with you at night…

For most people I have met, and certainly myself, nine times out of 10 this is not because you are genuinely hungry, but really just a habit and being used to having something sweet in the evening. It is nothing more than a big mind game really.

The reality is that for some people, the little extras you may eat at this time can really add up. Grazing on biscuits can end up being more calories and fat than a full meal. Even if you have a yoghurt, a handful of cereal and a piece of fruit, if you aren’t genuinely hungry it will be more food than you need in a day and it will not do you any favours. Eating mindlessly or when you aren’t really enjoying it is wasteful and frustrating and takes you away from being the happiest, healthiest you.

Panic not, there are things you can do! That is what I am here for, to help you sort this stuff out. Here are some things to think about.

When this munching time arrives, ask yourself – am I actually REALLY hungry?

There is a BIG difference between fancying a piece of chocolate or a scoop of ice cream to the GENUINE feeling of being hungry.

If you are actually hungry, it might be that you didn’t have enough veges at dinner or no healthy starch with your meal, so now you are craving sugar for that quick energy fix. It would have been better to have a little bit of healthy carbs (I always do) than telling yourself ‘no carbs at night’ then reaching for a chocolate yoghurt every night – that’s not helpful, is it?!!

If you are going to have something, at least go for an option which has some good nutrition, eg. a yoghurt, frozen banana (which tastes like ice cream) or vege soup. If you are GENUINELY hungry, this will be enough; if not, you are feeding something else – a sweet fix habit!

If you aren’t really hungry, then you can at least start to realise this is just a habit and it is time to break it.

Break that habit! Here are some things you could try.

After dinner, have a herbal tea (I like peppermint) to cleanse your palate and then brush your teeth.

Keep those foods which are your ‘nibble foods’ at the very back of your fridge/pantry in a non-transparent container. You could even put a Post-it note on it, saying “Do you really need to eat me?” I haven’t got to that stage yet, but I know someone who did that and said it worked… each to their own!

Find something else to DO when you are heading for a snack that you know you don’t need. Read a magazine, call someone, write down how you are feeling or what’s going through your mind, make a pot of herbal tea. If it is still light, go into the garden for 10 minutes or walk round the block.

Manage the THOUGHT behind the snacking. What you are thinking when you head into the kitchen? I deserve a treat? I haven’t eaten well all day, so why start now? I need something to make me feel better? This is using food for the whole reason you need to work on your thought pattern. There is more on this in my book Lose Weight for Life, grab a copy here.

So, what can YOU do to stop your after-dinner munchies?

Plus, make sure you share this blog with your friends and family!

Until next time… happy healthier living.

Love, Claire x

Claire Turnbull, BSc (Hons) Dietetics UK, NZ-registered nutritionist. Managing director of Mission Nutrition, and Healthy Food Guide nutritionist.

First published: Aug 2013



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