This is a tough one for many of my clients. And myself occasionally.
You finish your dinner. You’re feeling full. And then the snack attack hits, just when you know you shouldn’t be eating.
There are many underlying reasons for this, including:
- Habit – you have fallen in the habit of snacking on something sweet or salty after your dinner. It could stem all the way back to your childhood, perhaps your family just always had dessert after dinner. Or a newer neurological pathway you picked up somewhere along the way.Either way, your brain now tells you ‘it’s snack time!’ and you’re just along for the ride.
- Emotional connection – this is a big one, as most emotional eating usually occurs after 4pm. You feel like you’ve been ‘good’ all day, and now you deserve a treat dammit! Or perhaps you are processing your day – and need something soothing (hello ice cream!!) to give you a hit of those happy hormones, like dopamine. And sometimes, you’re just in need of some excitment because you’re bored.. Spicy chips will do the trick!
- Mindless eating – so you like to watch some mindless TV to relax into the evening. You’ve had a stressful day and you just want to ‘turn off your brain’. And along with that you sometimes get a little (BIG) bowl of your favourite snack to go with your favourite show. And those little big bowls can add up pretty quickly!
- Nutritional imbalances – if you’re not careful, you may actually be having a physical craving because you are missing a micronutrient (ex. Magnesium) so you are craving foods that are naturally high in this nutrients. In comes chocolate – which, in it’s natural state, is a great source of magnesium and iron. Or maybe you are having cravings for more food because you are not getting enough of a certain macronutrient, like healthy fats, for example. If you don’t have 1-2 servings of healthy fats in your meals, your blood sugars will fluctuate and you will not be physically satisfied – which means your cravings will go through the roof!
Now that you have a better idea of why you suffer from post dinner snacking, or may be craving certain foods, let’s talk about ways we can stop this cycle and get you feeling better. And of course it’s fine to have dessert every once in a while, but most days, we don’t actually need any more food after dinner. In fact, a great trick for maintaining a healthy weight or releasing extra weight it to make sure you have about 12 hours of fasting time in between your last meal and your first meal in the morning.
5 Tips to Stop After Dinner Snacking
- Brush your teeth after dinner. So simple, and so effective. This is a great way to signal to your brain ‘hey, it’s time to stop eating now!’
- Make sure you are eating enough through the day. If you’re in the habit of skipping meals and you have moments of the ‘hangry’ feeling throughout the day, you have fluctuating blood sugar and cravings will surely ensue. Set aside some time to eat 3 meals per day, and carry a healthy snack, like a handful of raw unsalted almonds, with you to prevent low blood sugar.
- Make a mindful decision to go for walks after dinner – instead of flopping down on the couch. Again, you are creating a new healthy habit when you start to do this more consistently. Walking is a great way to release the stress from the day. Save the TV time for 1-2 night per week and make it a fun social event with healthy snacks – like air popped popcorn with coconut oil and nutritional yeast. YUM
- Add a source of healthy fats to each of your meals. This will increase satiety (make you feel full) and slow down the absorption of glucose. Great examples would be 1/2 avocado, 2 tsp cold pressed olive oil or coconut oil, handful of unsalted raw nuts or seeds, or 3 oz of wild salmon.
- Have a healthy drink. This is by far my go to tip. There are so many ways you can use healthy drinks to enhance your health, and they make you feel like you are still having a little healthy sweet after dinner.
Great examples would be:
- Ginger + Lemon Mint Tea with raw unpasteurized honey. This will help to actually digest your food, allow for better nutrient absorption, and sooth your digestive system. If you tend to get a lot of flatulence, add a tsp of fennel to the mix.
- Apple Cider Vinegar + Sparkling Water. Raw organic unpasturized apple cider vinegar is a fantastic way to support your liver, alkalize the body, help with nutrient breakdown for better digestion, and also preventing unhealthy weight gain. Add 1 Tbsp vinegar to 5oz of sparkling water with frozen berries.
- Kombucha Mocktail. Kombucha is a fermented beverage that is rich in enzymes and probiotics, enhancing your digestion and helping to eliminate bloating. (recipe below)
Kombucha Mocktail with Frozen Berries + Lime
2 parts of your favourite kombucha (I used Hibiscus flavour for this recipe)
2 parts sparkling water, chilled
1 Tbsp lime juice
Frozen and/or fresh organic berries (I love strawberries and blueberries in my drinks)
Lavender flowers (if you want to get fancy)
Serve in champagne flutes to feel extra special:)
Don’t forget to share this article and recipe!