By:Jillian Ouhrabka MS, RD, LDN, CHC
So many of my clients tell me they eat well all day and then they get home and they can’t stop eating. Does this sound like you? If you are like so many of us, eating lunch and then have nothing to eat until you get home from work-listen up!
The recommendation is to eat every 3 hours to keep sugar cravings away and help you eat less. So think about this….if you eat lunch at noon and nothing until after work you are going about 5 or 6 (or more) hours without eating. This is too long! Now your body/brain is so hungry that it wants to eat anything it can and it doesn’t want a little piece- it wants the whole cake…meaning you will have little to no willpower to make a healthy choice. This is when you will be cravings sweets, and treats, and be more likely to eat the leftover pie than the leftover salad and you are more likely to overeat and consume excess calories.
How can you stay in control of your eating and cravings?
- Aim to eat every 3 hours during the day, this means having a morning and afternoon snack
- Plan to have your afternoon snack (between lunch and dinner) around 3pm
- Drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated
What should you eat for a snack?
Ideally you want to eat something with protein and carbohydrates to help you feel fuller longer, give you energy and prevent sugar cravings. (Note: If push comes to shove, eating something with just protein or just carbohydrates is fine!)
What are some good afternoon snacks? (Tip: Bring snacks to work and have on hand in your office for emergency hunger situations!)
- String cheese and an apple or orange
- Fat free Greek Yogurt with ½ cup high fiber cereal mixed in
- 1/2 cup cereal with skim milk
- A banana or piece of fruit with 1 Tbsp. peanut butter (slice the banana lengthwise, add the peanut butter and put it back together and eat it as you would a normal banana)
- Save half your sandwich from lunch and eat it at 3pm
- Share a bag of popcorn with a coworker (don’t add butter or salt to it)
- Hummus with celery or carrot sticks
- ½ cup low fat cottage cheese with sliced apple or on a piece of whole wheat toast (or crackers)
What else can I do to minimize overeating when I get home?
- Keep some granola bars, nuts, cereal, or fruit in your car (I recommend keeping granola bars in your trunk and grabbing 1 as you get in the car). When you leave work, eat the snack as you drive home. This way, by the time you get home you will not be quite as hungry and can either wait for dinner or will be more apt to make a healthy option
- Plan ahead: If you like to eat right when you get home, keep fruit salad, vegetable salad, or healthy leftovers in the refrigerator and PLAN to eat it when you get home.
- Put it on a plate: Never stand in front of a cabinet or the refrigerator or eat directly out of a package/bag…always put your food on a plate, in a dish, or bowl and sit down to eat it!
- Drink a glass of water when you get home-this will help fill you up so you are not as likely to overeat. Often times we are actually thirsty when we think we are hungry-drinking water first will help you determine if you were thirsty or if you are hungry and can save you calories!
Late night snacking
If you find you are snacking a lot in the evening, take control and plan to have a snack after dinner. Opt for diet hot chocolate, a bowl of high fiber cereal with skim milk, a bag of popcorn, or Greek yogurt.