How to stop eating after dinner

Monday, January 18, 2021

One of the biggest problems I had to overcome in the past few years is the issue of eating after dinner. Some call it snacking after dinner. I never thought about why I felt like I needed to eat after dinner.

I remember having a solid day of eating and tracking my food. When I got home, I was busy taking care of the kids, the house, and dinner. 

I also knew that I had to prepare myself for the next time. My nightly routine started with having dinner with the family and once the kids went to sleep, I would pack lunches for the following day.

I was often in the kitchen when I ate after dinner. The kitchen was fully stocked with the fruits, snacks and other food we needed for the week. 

I found myself tired from the day but I would persist in packing our lunches. In between packing lunches, I would start snacking here and there. 

At first, it wasn't a huge amount of food. It was just one or two bites that led to overeating. The type of food I'd go for wasn't necessarily bad. It was often the food I was packing for the following day.  Still, my WW budget was spent for the day. Even 5 days of overeating after dinner was not going to help me reach my goal. 

I remember feeling tired when I was packing. It is natural to be tired during that time of day, I confess. I was also stressed. I don't claim to be a stress-eater but the stress was part of the equation for sure. 

My thoughts after I ate were "I'm still tired. I feel like I need something else." Eventually, I would go to sleep and the next time, I would try to fix this problem again. 

Some days I succeeded. I identified the problem (snacking after dinner) and I thought, "I need to fix this habit. Oh wow, this is a habit."

I read a book about habits. It is a popular book that is actually good. I followed the book's advice and I did it! I stopped eating after dinner. 

A few weeks later, the after-dinner snacking started again. This time, I knew the habit formation formula. I just wasn't using it. 

I tried to divert myself from eating. I heard that if "crunching" is what I need, I should have baby carrots ready to go. If a soothing feeling is what I needed, I should have herbal tea. 

Ask me how many times I craved baby carrots? Correct: never. 

The solution to stop eating after dinner was more simple than that. You see, my feelings are real and smart. You can't replace crunchy snacks with baby carrots. At least I couldn't.  The real solution came by giving my body what it really needed. It turns out, I needed rest. 

Have you thought about analyzing why you snack after dinner? Consider these four things:

Behavior - the behavior I was trying to end was eating after dinner.  Plain and simple. 

Environment - I often ate after dinner while in my kitchen. 

Feeling - I was feeling tired, stressed.

Thought - I often thought "I feel tired and I still need something else." 

It took a little bit of time but I decided on the following action plan:

Behavior - I will not eat after dinner;
Environment - I will stop eating after dinner. If I want something, I will drink herbal tea;
Feeling - When I feel tired, I will go to sleep; 
Thought - Sleeping will allow me to feel my very best so I can reach my goal. 

Here are other things I considered:

Patience - this change wasn't overnight. I made a point to learn from my mistakes. 
Why - the reason WHY I wanted to stop eating after dinner had to be my strongest motivator. My why helped me to stay the course and fix this issue. Ask yourself, WHY do I want to stop eating after dinner?
Pause - I learned to pause, think about what I was doing and therefore say "I'm satisfied, I don't need any more food." If you don't pause to think, you might miss your satisfaction cues.
You are the expert - One size does not fit all. You are the expert on yourself. Be a student of your own behaviors, environment, feelings, and thoughts. You will be able to identify the solution to your own problem. You do have what it takes. 

This issue of snacking after dinner really bothered me for a long time. It didn't disappear magically. It took considering my behavior, environment, feelings, and thoughts. I know you too can succeed in this area.