You’re heading home from work when it hits…the munchies!
You walk in the door and have to pass by or through the kitchen and it’s all you can do to keep from grabbing food before greeting your loved ones. Then while dinner is being prepared, you just can’t help but munching through prep and cook time. It feels like you haven’t eaten all day!
If this is happening to you 3 or more days each week, we need to talk.
There are a few different reasons this can be happening.
1. You seriously didn’t eat enough today.
Sometimes our portions are off, sometimes the balance (every meal needs an appropriate amount of fat, protein and vegetables), sometimes the day gets away from us and we forget lunch. If this is you, fixing your fueling issues will greatly decrease your need to munch before dinner.
2. Your meals were unbalanced throughout the day.
Perhaps you ate breakfast at 6:30 am, lunch at 12 pm and now here it is dinner time at 7:30 pm. When you don’t evenly space your meals throughout the day, it’s very easy to come to a point of “hangry” by dinner time. You see, the body needs fuel on an ongoing basis and at regular intervals. Much like how you probably like to know how much and when you’ll be getting paid so you can plan ahead to pay your bills, your body really likes to know that it will be receiving ALL of the nutrition it needs and when it can be expecting that nutrition so it can jump on the chance to utilize it. Balancing the timing of your meals can have a profound impact on decreasing your evening cravings.
3. You’re exhausted.
After a long day or night, your body has nothing left to give. You need a pick me up. Some energy. Let me let you in on a little secret: the calories that everyone is so terrified of consuming due to the American Fear of gaining weight, they are actually good for you! You see, calories are a unit of measurement for energy! It’s how we measure energy. Much like how an inch or foot is how we measure distance. So while you could grab a coke or cup of coffee to perk you up, that isn’t what your body is in need of. More often than not, your body would love an extra big serving of nutrients (coming from calories) -and water, to get your energy lift.
So why are you craving those not so great for you sweet treats? Because 1g of protein or 1 g of carbs have 4 calories where 1 g of fat has 9 calories. 9 is more than 4 so eating that high fat treat will provide more energy quicker. When you’ve waited too long to eat, the body isn’t thinking as much about superb nutrition as much as it is sheer survival. This leads to higher calorie intake with minimal nutrient density and therefore, more fat storage.
To be more proactive in the future:
Eat plenty of protein and veggies during the day as well as a moderate amount of healthy fats and feel better about walking right past those less than perfect treats.
4.sometimes our cravings in the evening have nothing to do with how we ate during the day because they are made up in our minds due to the habits we’ve built. If everyday you walk in the door from work and ate a handful of candy, your brain would begin to hold you to that and it would become a habit. Breaking habits is never fun or easy but a habit like this will save you untold hours of “working harder to get healthier”. It takes a minimum of 21 days to begin changing a habit. How long you’ve had the habit will determine how much longer it could take to reset.
Sometimes it helps to make a decision to do something different in a different place to “preoccupy” yourself during the time you’d normally be eating that snack.
However you choose to break the habit, you have to acknowledge the issue is there in the first place.
So to summarize, if you are feeling munchy in the evening, check your food balance and timing, work on getting better quality or quantity of sleep and break those bad habits.
If you are having trouble during the transition time and need a little outside help, taking an amino acid (protein) supplement like this one or drinking a protein shake on the way home from work could be the help you need.