Certain times of day can absolutely destroy all your healthy eating intentions. For some people, it's the 2 p.m. slump, when dinner is hours away and your energy crashes; for others, it's at night in front of the TV. For me, the danger zone is cooking dinner. I'm usually hungry, and while I am chopping and prepping and grating I find myself going for either the dinner ingredients or whatever snacks are within arm's reach on the counter. One popular weight loss program calls those the "BLTs"...the bites, licks and tastes that add up.
Here's some rules I try to follow that minimize the damage:
Never eat anything out of the bag. There's an excellent book called Mindless Eating by Dr. Brian Wansik that looks at all the different ways we overeat without even realizing it. One of the big culprits? Grabbing handful after handful of a snack from a bag, because you don't get any real sense of how much you've eaten. Instead, measure out a serving (look on the label to see what a serving is, and use a measuring cup) and put it in a bowl. If you want more, dish out another serving. Funny how that craving for "just one more" chip or cookie goes away when you have to own up to how many servings you're consuming!
Have something healthy to combat the munchies. When I am cooking, I try to have something nearby that satisfies the hand-to-mouth urge so I don't nibble away at the yummy stuff I am preparing. Of course, if I'm prepping vegetables I let myself go to town!
Out of sight, out of mind...If you can't see it, you won't be as tempted to eat it. Just tonight, I deliberately hid the bag of chocolate-drizzled popcorn someone brought my kids (after I had virtuously measured out a portion and enjoyed it at the table). It was delicious and I knew if I saw it all I'd think about was wanting more. Once it was cleverly hidden behind some other groceries, I didn't even think about it.
Don't let yourself get too hungry. If you're walking in the door at 5:30 and lunch was at noon, you're going to be starving and eat everything that doesn't run away from you. Keep apples, nuts, or trail mix in your car so you can have something to take the edge off your hunger before you hit the kitchen.
How do you combat the mindless munchies?