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Has anyone figured out how to deal with poor evening eating?


Alicia64
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About 10 yrs. ago I lost 48 lbs. and I've kept it off.

 

Somewhere along the way I find myself losing and gaining the same three lbs.

 

I'm great during the day: I have a hard and fast rule that I don't eat sugar or junk food during the day. I realized that sugar was making me feel badly so I save it for after dinner.

 

But after dinner I can't seem to stick w/ my otherwise good habits. I eat too many cookies. Have too much ice cream and so on.

 

Sure, it helps if I beg dh not to bring my favorite stuff into the house, but if my favorites aren't around, I end up going for anything that's sugary and fattening.

 

I'm pretty sure on the evenings when I really go crazy with sugar -- tonight it was Peeps and chocolate eggs -- I end up feeling foggy in the morning.

 

I was able to do well last night -- I had a health-ish bowl of cereal for dessert and stopped eating. This morning I felt great.

 

You'd think this sort of understanding would make me be more diligent about nixing sugar, but it doesn't.

 

Have you found a way to get a handle on evening eating?

 

Alley

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Once my teeth are brushed and flossed for the night, it's much easier to skip eating more. Maybe brush and floss right after dinner?

 

You know, I actually heard of a man doing that exact thing. Okay, I'm brushing my teeth after dinner. Thank you!

 

Alley

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This might not be what you were hoping to hear, but personally I find it easier to cut out all sugars and sweeteners completely than to attempt "moderation". Moderation just keeps the cravings alive.

 

Seasider's recommendation about brushing teeth helps too! ETA: and so does rebbyribs's suggestion of a hot beverage! (Though for me, it has to be unsweetened or it backfires.)

Edited by Greta
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Could you be missing nutrients during the day so when you "relaxed" your sugar rule at night your body is pressing you to eat all those sugary carbs in a mistaken attempt to fill in those missing nutrients?

 

I've started using a tracker that tracks all of my exercise, my sleep (deep and light), my liquids, my water intake and my food intake, including breaking it all down by nutrients.  Cutting just calories or sugar in general without paying closer attention to what I wasn't getting was a bad idea because I was cutting out things I needed and was already shorting myself on things I needed.  I found that I was shorting myself on important nutrients and by night time I was craving sweets/carbs to make up for it.  Now I include a sweet treat at lunch but I fill up on healthy proteins and carbs and other critical nutrients at breakfast, lunch and my mid-day snack.  By dinner I am not that hungry so I eat light and fill in whatever remaining nutrients I have not consumed enough of (usually I need to pump up potassium or iron or vitamin C).  I no longer eat any sweets at night.  Just the treat at lunch.  It has helped so much for me to feel healthier and not binge on stuff that doesn't get my body what it actually needs.

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Partly because of Dh we don't have much sugary stuff in the house. No cookies, muffins, chocolate, ice cream, ... it does mean that if a person gets a craving for something sugary they have to bake something.... which doesn't happen much, especially at night.

 

Can you just cut back more in the stuff that you are snacking on. If it's not in the house you can't have it.

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Could you be missing nutrients during the day so when you "relaxed" your sugar rule at night your body is pressing you to eat all those sugary carbs in a mistaken attempt to fill in those missing nutrients?

 

I've started using a tracker that tracks all of my exercise, my sleep (deep and light), my liquids, my water intake and my food intake, including breaking it all down by nutrients. Cutting just calories or sugar in general without paying closer attention to what I wasn't getting was a bad idea because I was cutting out things I needed and was already shorting myself on things I needed. I found that I was shorting myself on important nutrients and by night time I was craving sweets/carbs to make up for it. Now I include a sweet treat at lunch but I fill up on healthy proteins and carbs and other critical nutrients at breakfast, lunch and my mid-day snack. By dinner I am not that hungry so I eat light and fill in whatever remaining nutrients I have not consumed enough of (usually I need to pump up potassium or iron or vitamin C). I no longer eat any sweets at night. Just the treat at lunch. It has helped so much for me to feel healthier and not binge on stuff that doesn't get my body what it actually needs.

What tracker is that?

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What tracker is that?

DH set me up with MyFitnessPlus.  I wear a watch 24/7 that keeps track of my sleep/exercise.  It is waterproof and comfortable to wear.  I can also use my phone to enter in everything I am eating/drinking and it breaks it all up by nutrients to show me where I am taking in too much (such as sodium or the unhealthy fats) while also showing me where the deficits are (such as lack of iron or Vitamin C or whatever).  The data from the phone and my watch are all tracked through the program.  It has helped so much.  I can balance out my foods throughout the day so that my body is getting what it needs.  I am not dieting.  I am balancing my nutrient intake.  I don't get so hungry, I don't crave junk like I did, I am losing unwanted pounds, sleeping better, I have more energy and I am gaining muscle tone.

 

ETA: Realizing that part of my mental and physical issues were poorly balanced nutrient intake, even when I THOUGHT I was eating healthy was a huge revelation for me.  

Edited by OneStepAtATime
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I try to remember how I'll feel in the morning. That foggy feeling you mention? That would be enough to keep me from over doing it most nights. Not all the time, of course. I'm human. But did you read the thread about cleaning the kitchen at night? It helps start my day off right if I walk into a clean kitchen in the morning, and it also starts my day off right if I wake up w/o a food hangover.

 

The older I get the less I can eat at night and feel well in the morning. I'm beginning to understand why so many seniors show up for the early bird dinner specials. ;)

 

A couple of other points --

 

Make sure you're getting in enough calories earlier in the day. Maybe you really are hungry and that's why you find those foods irresistible at night.

 

And . . . gaining/losing three pounds?? That's water weight fluctuation territory. Are you sure it's not that?

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re: tracking micronutrients

 

Cronometer is a free web-based thing or there's a cheap app to track micronutrients. It's easy to use and informative *if* you cook most of your own food. If you rely a lot on prepackaged food it's hard. 

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I don't deprive myself of the foods I like. I've learned to eat small amounts of them and be satisfied. I have certain snacks every night. It's part of my overall eating habits. I simply must have something to nibble on before bed. One good one is animal crackers. Low calorie and you can eat enough of them that you feel like you're really getting something. I actually buy the chocolate ones but I bet the plain are better.

 

FWIW, brushing my teeth does not deter me from eating and drinking anything, so that wouldn't work for me.

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Is your evening eating died to television watching or hanging out at sports fields watching the kids? I am wondering if you need to change other habits as well. Would it help to walk instead of sitting?

 

I rarely eat anything after dinner until morning but I almost always have a cup of herb tea while reading before bed. Habit?

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I knit, because if my hands are busy and I want to keep them clean, I won't snack.

 

Another thing that may or may not help for you is that we eat late dinners around here. The reasons for this are more because that's how the timing works out, but I view it as a fringe benefit that I ate late, so I'm not feeling munchy. If I eat dinner at 6-ish, as many more Americans do, I start looking for something to nosh on by 8-8:30.

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I like having a hot beverage (decaf tea or cocoa) in the evening, and I view this as my "made it through another day" sort of treat.  

 

I have trained myself (doesn't mean I always do it) to count a cup of coffee as "dessert" like when I am out at a restaurant.  It just completes my meal.

 

I don't really like decaf though, so at night I will have a cup of something else.   A cup of some sort of herbal hot drink, or some sugar free hot chocolate.

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I really struggle at night, too.  I allow myself a treat every night (for me, it's a protein bar that I eat very slowly).  I look forward to that and it satisfies my sweet tooth.  

 

What I really like to do is eat a very small dinner and then allow myself a few small snacks between dinner and my protein bar so I can eat frequently.  So, I'll have some fruit an hour after dinner, some cheese two hours after dinner, the protein three hours after dinner, and then I'm done.  That makes me feel less deprived.  

 

 

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I go to bed!  After I had surgery a few years ago, I let myself sleep whenever I wanted as I recovered.  I wasn't terribly hungry so I did lose some weight.  When I got up and around, I ate more, naturally.  But once I stopped letting myself go for a nap when I got tired, I started really craving food, particularly junk.  It was always when I was really tired and trying to push through.  I was using high carb, junky snacks to force myself to stay upright and functioning.  

 

It was an epiphany for me.  If I start getting cravings at night, after I've eaten a good meal, it's usually a sign that I need to crash.  I'm not always able to, but if I can just go to sleep I am fine forgoing the munchies.  Some people think they are hungry when they are really just thirsty; I think I'm hungry when I just need sleep.

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Begal Spice tea (Celestial Seasonings) tastes sweet because of the spices, but it does not contain sugar. I just suck back these all evening and I can usually make it. If not, I have a back up jar of pure maple sugar. All I need is a spoonful of that and I'm sugared up. I know some friends who do a spoonful of molasses to address the sugar cravings.

 

Once my body is accustomed to having pure, natural sugar, the thought and taste of processed sugar is not appealing.

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Definitely track your food and make sure you are gettng your nutrition, especially the healthy fats.

Instead of ice cream and cookies, switch to fruit for sugar. Add a very small quantity of nuts for fat.

Get your bloodwork done. If you have metabolic syndrome, you might want to make a 'Kitchen Closed at 7 p.m.' rule so you get twelve hours food free. Go for a walk at 7 pm rather than sitting.

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I allow myself to snack at night.  It's just something I enjoy doing.  I basically build that in as a meal.  But I don't eat junk.  I also portion stuff out so I'm not mindlessly eating while watching TV. 

 

One tactic is to portion stuff out.  Just say ok I'm going to allow myself some cookies...I get 2 cookies and that is that.  If I still want to snack on something I'll have these carrot sticks or whatever other healthier option.  You probably aren't going to eat the whole bag of carrots.  KWIM?  It still gives you the option to snack and the option to have (a sane amount of) cookies without going overboard.

 

 

 

 

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A couple of other points --

 

Make sure you're getting in enough calories earlier in the day. Maybe you really are hungry and that's why you find those foods irresistible at night.

 

And . . . gaining/losing three pounds?? That's water weight fluctuation territory. Are you sure it's not that?

This. Maybe you really are hungry and if you upped your calorie intake slightly it might help. Also, build your treat in. There isn't anything wrong with having a treat provided it doesn't sabotage your overall goals (which for you is weight maintenance). So, maybe both/and. A few more calories during the day and a smaller portion of the treat at night.

 

And yes, human weight naturally fluctuates based upon a number of factors through out the day/week/month/year. I really wouldn't see that three pounds as anything more than the normal thing a body does.

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Make sure you eat enough at dinner to really fill you up (things like meat and veggies).  Maybe finish the meal with a small portion of fruit/berries, which at least for me, satisfies any sweet craving for the evening.  A cup of coffee to sip on after that is nice.

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Three pounds doesn't sound like a huge problem to me, I suspect that kind of variation is more normal than not.  But my suggestions are - plan for a small snack, eat later, and go to bed earlier.  Sleep is important for maintaining a healthy weight anyway.

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