The upcoming time change means an earlier sunset and more time indoors — and more opportunities to eat. Humans don’t hibernate, though, and we usually try to avoid winter weight gain.
While recent research suggests when we eat may make a difference in calorie burning, how much we eat is likely a larger factor. It can be too easy to consume extra calories in the evening out of boredom, stress or habit.
Beyond avoiding alcoholic beverages and desserts, there are other tricks and tips to avoid late-hour grazing — and the weight gain that comes with it.
1. Limit eating to the table. When we eat while watching a movie or in front of the TV, we may eat more than is necessary because we are distracted and may not realize that we are getting full. Try eating at the table and focusing on the food in front of you, savoring the flavor and texture to increase your sense of satisfaction.
2. Find a new nighttime ritual. Eating doesn’t have to be the only way to unwind after a long day. Consider a non-food ritual, such as drinking a cup of herbal tea, lighting a scented candle or listening to soothing music to mark the end of the day.
3. Set a kitchen closing time. Commit to not eating after a certain time and close the kitchen for business. Turn off the kitchen lights and put up a “closed” sign if needed. This will prevent wandering into the kitchen for mindless snacks.
4. Brush your teeth immediately after dinner. This is a great way to prevent nighttime snacks because once you’ve brushed, you’re unlikely to consume more. You don’t want to ruin that fresh feeling in your mouth or need to brush your teeth again.
5. Get your zzzs. Make sure you are getting at least seven hours of sleep per night. When we don’t get enough sleep or enough quality sleep, our hunger hormones increase, and our metabolism slows. Plus, when we stay up later, there are more opportunities to eat.
With a little planning, you will emerge to greet longer days in the spring without extra winter pounds.
Contributor: Sue Heikkinen, RD