IT’S 5pm and dinner is still a couple of hours away – how can you possibly avoid snacking?
Experts say the late afternoon is the “snacking danger zone” when most people can’t keep their cravings at bay.
While it’s important to listen to your hunger cues, eating out of boredom or just because food is there is could become a problem.
Susie Burrell, an Australian-based dietician, said: “Come late afternoon, clients will find themselves snacking liberally on any food that crosses their path.
“Demolishing tubs of dip, packets of crackers, the kid’s lunchbox leftovers and anything else they can grab and munch on quickly while preparing dinner.
“The issue with this is that it is entirely possible to consume an entire days’ worth of calories in a relatively short period time.
“When this eating pattern is coupled with a large meal at night, weight gain is common, even if you have consumed minimal calories throughout the day.”
Susie told 9Honey five ways to prevent overeating while waiting for dinner.
1. Have a substantial snack mid-afternoon
“One of the key reasons we over eat late afternoon is that we arrive home from work starving, as it has been several hours since lunch was consumed,” Susie said.
“When you are extremely hungry, and your blood glucose levels are low, the drive to seek out sweet, carbohydrate-rich foods such as crackers, snack food and chips is strong, which explains why you can eat an entire packet of rice crackers in minutes.”
To stop overeating so much in the late afternoon to evening, have a substantial snack around two hours before getting home from work, Susie said.
Good options include Greek yoghurt with fruit and nuts, cheese and crackers and veggie sticks or a mini wrap with lean meat and salad.
2. Leave room for dinner
If you can’t hold out until dinner time, there is nothing wrong with grabbing a snack prior.
But Susie says: “The key is to choose a snack that has minimal calories so you do not displace your hunger and can still enjoy a nutritious, balanced dinner.
“Good options include cut up vegetables, low calorie dips (such as tzatziki), popcorn, berries…”
You should curb your hunger, so that you don’t overeat by dinner time. But you don’t need to have anything more than what satisfies your hunger.
3. Get rid of tempting foods
“It goes without saying that if your cupboards are packed full of tempting treats — biscuits, crackers, bars, dips — you will eat them, eventually,” Susie said.
Empty the cupboards and fridge of snacks you can’t resist and instead fill them with healthy snacks you can enjoy.
4. Get out the house
If you’re clockwatching for dinner time, no wonder food is on your mind.
Those hours before dinner can be boring or spent alone, which can lead you to thinking about snacks.
Susie said: “Make this a time you walk and catch up with a friend, head to the gym (when you can), walk to the shop to pick up dinner or spend time in the garden.
“Changing the environment is extremely powerful when it comes to changing behaviour.”
5. Make dinner earlier
Susie says one of the main reasons people eat before dinner is because they are snacking as they prepare it.
The most simple way to avoid this is to prepare dinner ahead of time, either earlier in the day or at the weekends.
“Then you only have to go to the kitchen to heat up the meal,” Susie said.
“Again, being out of the kitchen at the time of day when you are most tempted to eat will result in you eating significantly less overall.”
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