Thursday, January 5, 2012

Evening snack plans

I always want something sweet at night. ALWAYS. I ate sweet(ish) breakfast cereals every morning for over 20 years, but now find I prefer eggs for breakfast. I don't need something sweet at lunch. In the middle of the afternoon, my sugary desires start to whisper. Sometimes it's more of a murmur, sometimes fairly loud chatter. But after dinner, it always ALWAYS morphs into a howl.

I had the best dinner tonight with a friend at a lovely restaurant. As soon as I got into my car to drive home, I wanted ice cream. I find this so frustrating.

I've tried many things--forbidding myself to eat after dinner. Allowing myself to only eat hard boiled eggs and celery sticks. Trying to listen to hunger cues, sort out my emotions, and snack "intuitively." Chugging water and drinking hot tea. Applying portion control to my favorite sugary foods. (Is "half a cup of ice cream" a real suggestion or a horrible joke?) Suffice it to say, none of these approaches have worked long-term, and in my frustration I have said "screw it" and let myself go off the rails nightly for months at a time...before trying yet another solution for my late-night eating urges.

I have to keep looking for a workable answer. So right now, I'm crafting a list of snacks I can enjoy without doing too much damage. Namely, snacks that have some nutritional merit, give me a hit of sweetness, and do not leave me wanting second or third or fourth servings. So far I have come up with:

oatmeal (with any of the following: spices, milk, honey/maple syrup, nuts, raisins or other fresh/dried fruits)

KIND bar, maybe Larabars now and then

glass of milk--sometimes that is enough, especially 2% or whole milk

protein smoothies, but I have to watch the size

a Chobani yogurt cup--I like to top various flavors with fresh blueberries and walnuts

celery with nut butter(s) and raisins/dates/cranberries/whatever

herbal tea--Yogi Egyptian licorice is sweet

I have all these things on hand, usually. I like that the list has hot, room temperature, and cold items. KIND bars sort of replace candy; milk, smoothies, and yogurt are good for when I'm craving ice cream (which is OFTEN); and oatmeal is grainy and carby and sort of a replacement for baked goods. I wonder if, besides oatmeal, I could be happy with a single whole grain waffle and a bit of maple syrup on those nights I want cake or cookies.

I know it's not IDEAL to eat if you aren't clearly physically hungry. I know many people eliminate nighttime eating altogether. But ideals are getting me nowhere; I need something realistic and doable NOW to move me in the right direction. My hope would be to build on this, eventually eating only half a serving of oatmeal, half a yogurt cup, or half a bar...maybe switching to less sugary stuff some nights out of the week...who knows from there...

I think I'll post this list on my fridge.

Anyone out there have other suggestions or tips for evening snacking?


  1. I could have written this post! I love ice cream and used to crave it all the time. Right after a satisfying lunch? Bam! I want ice cream. Right after a filling dinner? Bam! I want ice cream. For me, it took some time and retraining myself. At first I indulge in ice cream, but only if I really really really wanted it. After awhile it changed to something that was sweet, but not necessarily healthy like a hard candy or piece of chocolate. Now I either have a huge sweet apple or a bowl of cottage cheese or greek yogurt with a dollop of pumpkin butter and a sprinkle of fiber one cereal. Not quite ice cream, but over time I don't want it as often anymore. Good luck!

  2. Thanks, Jenn! It's heartening to know that reprogramming is possible. And good snack suggestions--I love cottage cheese.

  3. Boy, you really have tried everything! That's a great list. I get the same craving most evenings, and I'm constantly trying new ways to deal with it, most of what you've listed have been methods I've tried. Another thing I have on my list of evening treats is a small square of dark chocolate - it's good for you and it feels sinful. :-) That one is hard to do portion control on though - it's not like you can buy just a single square, and if you did you'd have to buy one every day to ensure you don't eat the whole bag (speaking from experience...)

  4. You know, I should really give dark chocolate another try. As long as I can keep myself from glopping peanut butter on it, it should be okay!

  5. Late to comment here but I just found your blog and I'm really enjoying it!

    I have the same problem in the evenings and lately I've been having milk with sugar-free Torani syrup, the stuff they use to flavor coffee. I mix orange and vanilla, or I use caramel flavor in warm milk... there is also an eggnog flavor. Not the real thing of course but sweet and filling and even if I do go into a binge it's only skim milk which is a far cry from ice cream.

  6. Thanks, Arwenn! Mmmm, your steamers sound good. I keep meaning to try making those. I've never had one, but it sounds like the perfect drink for those evenings where I feel like I can't make it to bedtime without a little something.